In the bustling journey of life, Grace Oviatt, at 26, found herself at DMACC, not as her initial plan but as a pivotal chapter in her transformative story. After contemplating an engineering path at ISU, financial considerations led her to the dual enrollment program with DMACC. The Boone Campus, conveniently close to ISU, became her academic home, where she not only pursued her studies but also discovered unexpected opportunities.

Living in Ames and commuting, Grace's situation took a positive turn when she tried out for the cross-country team and earned a scholarship, unveiling the plethora of financial support DMACC had to offer. Her ISU engineering advisor's insight guided her, emphasizing that DMACC's science and math professors were unparalleled. The foundation they provided became the cornerstone of her success.

For a year and a half, Grace immersed herself in DMACC's academic embrace, not earning an AA degree but gaining readiness to transition seamlessly to ISU. Majoring in Industrial Engineering and minoring in engineering sales, she graduated in 2016, stepping into the professional arena with TraneTM, a commercial HVAC manufacturer in Des Moines. Grace's role involved designing and selling HVAC equipment statewide, a position the company hadn't filled in a decade. She proudly became the first female sales engineer at TraneTM, attributing much of her success to the preparation she received at DMACC.

Reflecting on her DMACC experience, Grace emphatically highlights the profound impact of the teachers. Their care and dedication, especially exemplified by physics professor Nancy Woods in Boone, went beyond the classroom. Not only did Professor Woods secure a scholarship for Grace, she also played an instrumental role in editing her papers. This personal attention proved invaluable and ultimately paved the way for Grace to secure a full-ride scholarship at ISU.

When asked about her DMACC journey's three standout aspects, Grace emphasizes individual attention, the exceptional faculty, and the affordability that DMACC offers. Her perspective challenges misconceptions about community colleges, dispelling the notion that attending DMACC implies settling for less. On the contrary, Grace insists that DMACC's personalized approach ensures a strong foundation, making it a launching pad for successful engineers.

Grace's story is woven with the threads of resilience and determination. "You either work hard now, or you work hard later," she states, echoing a simple yet profound philosophy that guided her. Her journey from DMACC to a successful career in engineering sales is a testament to the transformative power of education and the opportunities that a community college can offer.

As Grace navigated her academic and career goals, initially aspiring to be an engineer or professor, she found herself in the field of engineering sales after graduation. The soft skills, resiliency, and unwavering

drive that she developed at DMACC became the pillars of her success. Grace's advice to prospective DMACC students echoes her own journey: don't let obstacles deter you from setting yourself up for success. The effort invested now, she attests, pays off in the future, providing a foundation for a fulfilling life without financial burdens and career instability. Her story, intertwined with lessons learned at DMACC, stands as a beacon for those seeking to transform their dreams into reality.