Carver Scholarship provides relief for students overcoming hardship
Thursday, March 29, 2012

Each year, 20 University of Iowa juniors are selected to receive the $5,200 renewable award from the Carver Trust. The criteria includes:

Iowa residency

U.S. citizenship

2.80 cumulative GPA

Junior status by fall semester

Full-time enrollment

Overcome significant social and economic hardship while showing great potential and promise

Demonstrate financial need by filing the FAFSA by March 1

Complete Carver Scholarship application online by April 1

More information at

College students lose sleep worrying about a lot of things — a paper, a project, midterms, and finals. Not to mention the many worries in life outside the classroom. The Carver Scholarship, a $5,200 award given annually to 20 University of Iowa juniors, helps relieve some of that worry and recognizes students who have overcome extraordinary circumstances.

Below, read the stories of three Carver recipients, and find out why they’re not losing sleep worrying about money anymore.

Portrait of Addison Ardolino

Addison Ardolino

Junior industrial engineering major
Anamosa, Iowa

Ardolino is into solving problems and saving the planet, which is a big reason why he is the vice president of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW). He and some of his peers just received a $5,000 grant to build a solar powered funnel cake stand, which he says is great, “because funnel cakes are delicious.”

When Ardolino was a teenager, his father developed severe epilepsy, and his parents divorced. His father lost his business, and the family didn’t have money to send Ardolino to college. So, he took an independent study course his senior year of high school that consisted solely of filling out scholarship applications. He chose Iowa, in part, because his older brother Nathan already was on campus, and Nathan had looked out for him through his tumultuous teenage years.

Receiving the Carver Scholarship has allowed Ardolino to live near campus and not have to work a job, which has freed up time to get involved in student organizations like ESW.

“You go through hard times, and you learn that life is a continuous thing,” Ardolino says. “You just always have to be moving forward. You can look at the past however you want to; you can frame it however you want to. I choose to frame it as: it’s not going to slow me down. It’s going to make me a better person.”

Portrait of Louisa Montealvo

Louisa Montealvo

Senior cinema major
Clear Lake, Iowa

At one point, Montealvo was scared to death of going to school. She developed a debilitating phobia in her early teens that led her to drop out of high school during her sophomore year. Her father was an alcoholic and a drug abuser, and her sister was hospitalized numerous times for emotional and mental health problems after being sexually abused by an uncle.

At 15, Montealvo had to help support her family. She worked full time as a nanny, and then waited tables. When she was 23, she decided it was time to overcome her fear. She earned a GED certificate and enrolled at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City, Iowa. She earned a 4.0 GPA at NIACC, but more importantly regained her confidence.

“Receiving the Carver Scholarship was a huge, huge deal,”Montealvo says. “It was a big part of the reason I came to Iowa.”

Now 28, Montealvo is about to receive a college degree she never thought possible. Her dream is to someday direct movies. She already has lived the script.

Portrait of Thomas Langer

Thomas Langer

Junior international studies major
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Langer is a third-generation University of Iowa student, but he hasn’t taken the traditional route to higher education. He is 41, a recovering alcoholic three years sober, and a transfer student from Kirkwood Community College.

Over the past two decades, he has lived and worked in five countries, but he finally feels like he is where he belongs.

“I really feel like I’m in alignment with what I want to do and what I’m supposed to be doing,” he says. I keep having these amazing opportunities present themselves to me.”

With academic emphases on human rights and South Asian studies, Langer aspires to work combating issues of hunger and increasing educational opportunities for children of extreme poverty. This summer, he is traveling abroad to India to study Hindi language and conduct research for his honors thesis topic of the role and impact of social media on Tibetans living in exile.

He remains inspired by his journey, the compassion of his late mother, and a meeting with the Dalai Lama shortly after his mother passed in 2010. And he has a renewed faith in himself, thanks in large part to the faith others have shown in him.

“I was very, very fortunate to receive the Carver Scholarship,” he says. “I go to school at Iowa without any student loans. It has allowed me to have peace of mind to continue my undergrad without having to worry about money. And it’s really helped me believe in myself. I opened up and shared my story, and it feels good to know the university believes in me as well.”