Friday, September 1, 2023

Aldo Loya, an undergraduate from Iowa City, says he’s found where he belongs within the College of Education's Elementary Education program.

Loya received his associates of science degree from Kirkwood Community College, where he changed his area of study several times. When he came to the University of Iowa, Loya knew he wanted to help people and considered criminology and medicine as possible fields, but he was drawn to the College of Education after taking an educational psychology class with Clinical Professor Mitchell Kelly.

As part of an extra credit opportunity, Loya volunteered 10 hours at his alma mater, Iowa City High School, where he discovered he enjoyed connecting with students in the teaching environment. Loya decided to pursue education as a way to uplift others.  

Loya — a first-generation student whose parents immigrated from Mexico — says he wants to guide youth in the right direction. He experienced trial and error in his education, and he wants to be a source of advice.

“My parents are immigrant factory workers, so they don't have a higher level of education because they came here when they were young and just started working right away,” he says. “They always told me, ‘Get your education, it’s important that you have that because no one can ever take that away from you.’”

Loya has been supported in his studies by the Young Family Scholarship, which awards funds to undergraduate or graduate students pursuing elementary education who demonstrate financial need and who are from an underrepresented group.

In tandem with other scholarships, grants and loans, Loya was able to manage the cost of tuition and purchase professional clothes for student teaching with the Young Family Scholarship money.

“I got to meet the Young family, hear their story, and I'm grateful for them and that they're able to provide the scholarship for students like me,” he says.

This past summer, Loya traveled to Florida for the National Education Association Conference where he had the opportunity to meet with teachers working in the field for decades and discuss the political impacts on public education, advocating for payment for student teaching, and LGBTQ inclusivity in school.

Loya plans to graduate in December 2023 after completing his student teaching requirement in West Liberty.

“I get to do dual language there. I get to use my native language, Spanish, and work with students who speak Spanish and work with students who want to learn Spanish, so that's going to be really exciting.”

To support students such as Aldo Loya, visit

See more from the the 2022-23 Annual Report.