Grads Give Back event encourages students to do well in school and aspire higher.

Current students visit with Ike grads. Each year, alumni dish about the college experience and represent their university. Grads talk about how to prepare for college, what to expect and how to succeed.

[dropcap color=”#888″ type=”square”]T[/dropcap]he returning graduates represented different colleges. The alumni answered a variety of questions from college preparation to the college experience.

Eisenhower High School’s Grads Give Back annual event coincides with college winter break. This year, more than 70 Ike grads returned to their alma mater to talk with students.


Houston City Council Member Amanda Edwards speaks at Eisenhower HS’ Grads Give Back event. Edwards is an Ike alumna.

Hundreds of Ike students along with invited middle school students benefitted from the initiative. Grads Give Back targets students who intend to pursue college or a post-secondary education. This includes students in Advanced Placement (AP) and dual credit courses.

Aldine ISD offers the entire IB continuum. Eisenhower is an International Baccalaureate World School. Students in the rigorous IB Diploma program also took advantage to hear from alumni.

Students in the iASPIRE program at Eisenhower Ninth Grade School got the invite to attend too. The four-year elective course begins in the Ike students’ freshman year. The main goal is to prepare students to succeed in college. 

The event was open to any Ike student helped by college support services. These include nonprofits like College Forward and Generation Texas. Both are helping students reach their dreams.

Graduates Remind Students to Stay Focused and to Keep Their Eyes on the Prize

National statistics and data prove the importance of higher education. People with college degrees are more likely to be employed. And they’re making more money than high school graduates.

Eisenhower-High-School-Grads-Give-Back-Panel-Original-1The program began with words and encouragement from Ike alumna, Amanda Edwards. She serves on the Houston City Council Member in At-Large Position 4. 

Edwards was followed by a panelist discussion session. The grads shared experience and words of wisdom while also answering student questions. They encouraged students to study, get informed, and to plan early. Above all they must believe in themselves. They stressed that a higher education was possible and within reach. The panelists shared that college was an adventure to define their future. A common theme was to take advantage of the opportunities available. It was just as important to accept challenges. More than one panelist reiterated that college was more than memorizing facts. It’s about the mindset and strategies that will help them explore, engage and excel in life.


Bobby Mansour (background) walks up to a table of grads talking to Ike students.

One of the returning alumni is Marco Medina. The is the second consecutive year the 2015 Ike graduate has taken part in Grads Give Back. 

Everyone loves to educate future Ike grads about the college experience,” said Medina. “We feel an obligation to help others succeed.”

The grads shared how college classes are different from high school. They discussed financial options to help pay for college. And they provided academic resources to help college undergraduates succeed.

Ike Graduates Represented 14 CollegesThey included the University of Texas, Texas A&M, Drexel, Brigham Young, Howard, Texas Southern & University of Houston

Grads’ wisdom helps current students make the transition from high school to college.

Eisenhower-High-School-Grads-Give-Back-7After the question and answer session in the auditorium, everyone headed to the cafeteria. The returning alumni set up tables with college materials. Acting as college representatives, they continued to answer students’ questions.

Others got a chance to catch-up with old friends.

Ben Ibarra appreciates everyone who made the Grads Give Back a success. Ibarra is principal at the campus.

Eisenhower-High-School-Grads-Give-Back-8Its always incredible to see the number of grads who take part,” said Ibarra. “So many alumni come back yearafteryear. That tells me that this event means a lot to them. They want to see others in their home community succeed.

We are proud of our Ike alumni. We appreciate how they give back. They are inspiring future graduates realize their aspirations.”

When Ike students graduate, campus leaders encourage them to inspire another graduate. They become a critical link in the school’s college-going culture.

Eisenhower-High-School-Grads-Give-Back-9Organizers encouraged future Ike graduates to visit each of the colleges represented. Students could collect admission information.

Bobby Mansour stated that the Grads Give Back is a collaborative effort. It began as a student initiative in 2010 that has grown into a campus community event. Mansour and Kaileigh Rosplohowski have been instrumental in helping the students plan. Mansour is the IB campus coordinator and Rosplohowski is an art teacher.


Kaileigh Rosplohowski (l) with an Ike grad.

As educators we stress the importance of a postsecondary education,” said Mansour. “The feedback from Grads Give Back confirms the advice we give students.

“The grads provide a voice and perspective our students more readily listen to.

The graduates and current students have a lot of common ground such as growing up in the same community.

Eisenhower-High-School-Grads-Give-Back-6“That shared background helps them connect with the alumni. The graduates really do help current students gain understanding through their eyes. That is why we continue to have this event.”

In talking with several students that attended, they found the event motivating. One sentiment kept repeating:  No matter what your background is, college is possible. We can reach our dreams.

’15 Graduate Bryttany McClendon-Weary Shares Why She Takes Part in Grads Give Back

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Thanks to all the alumni that took part in Grads Give Back!

Eisenhower HS made U.S. News & World Report’s Best High Schools in the U.S. rankings. Eisenhower is also an International Baccalaureate World School.