Thursday, October 4, 2012

Senior Mentor Matches Students with Their Top College Choices

Four years ago, Collegiate Challenge mentor John Grubbs helped Northbrook High senior Yvonne Madrid win a full scholarship to Kettering University in Flint, Mich..

The college is known for its cooperative engineering program where students combine lecture halls and on-the-job plant training. In May, Yvonne graduated from Kettering with a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering.

Today, she is employed at Caterpillar in Joliet, Ill., as a manufacturing engineer. “She’s just like a daughter. I have two daughters, and Yvonne was just like having another daughter.

I enjoy working with all the young people that I have worked with, and I am as proud of them as I am of my own children,” John says. Today, Yvonne considers her mentor’s “belief in my success” and encouragement as vital to her post-high school choices.

“It was Mr. Grubb’s advice and guidance that helped me make a major decision in my life that I do not regret,” she says. For John Grubbs, Yvonne’s story is one of many. The retired engineer and dedicated Chapelwood United Methodist Church volunteer has helped more than 15 Northbrook High seniors make great matches with colleges and universities near and far.

Across SBISD high schools, Collegiate Challenge programs last year alone helped 107 seniors access more than $2.9 million in available college and university scholarships.

Some of the college-going dreams that John has made come true have included these young people: Aleyda Castillo, industrial engineering at the University of Houston (UH); Ambar Balderas, chemistry at the U.S. Naval Academy; Ariseli Ramirez, full scholarship in computer science at Texas A&M University; Duc Nguyen, business at Texas A&M University; Diamond Barbosa, forensic science, also at Texas A&M; Diana Roman, nursing at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi; Elissa Castillo, pre-medicine and fashion design, UH; Janelle Joseph, pre-dentistry at Texas A&M; Kai Muhammad, pre-med at Texas State University; Grace Aranda, pre-law at the University of Houston Honors College; Diana Rivera, University of St. Thomas; Rosa Robles, chemical engineering, also at UH. Griselda Vazquez, who graduated in May from Texas A&M University, plans to earn a doctorate in history.

“I don’t believe Mr. Grubbs has any idea how many students’ futures he has shaped either directly or indirectly. He mentors because he truly enjoys helping others. I know for a fact that it is a characteristic that I picked up from him,” she says. “John Grubbs believes in the future,” says Chris Archer, an associate director at Chapelwood United Methodist.

“He breathes out both hope and motivation with his every word. When John mentors a student he sees in them their great potential. John unlocks that potential and helps turn it into success.”

An Ohio native, John Grubbs was the first generation in his family to attend college. He earned a civil engineering degree through a cooperative program like the one at Kettering from the University of Cincinnati. After arriving some years later in Houston, John settled in 1975 with his wife and three children in Nottingham Forest.

In Houston, he completed a master’s of business administration degree at the University of Houston. Before retiring 13 years ago as an assistant director of public works & engineering with the City of Houston, he worked with the A.B. Chance division of Emerson Electric and Dresser Industries. In retirement, he has been active in a variety of roles with the Spring Branch Family Development Center, Chapelwood United Methodist, and in flood relief after Tropical Storm Allison, to name a few projects.

Active in his church choir, he became a Collegiate Challenge mentor a decade ago. He’s not sure exactly where his flame for community service ignited, but says that a social fraternity in college, his father’s involvement in civic affairs, and his own Scouting experiences may have all played key roles. Many students he has mentored remind him of his own college-going experience:

“I can’t recall to this day how I got into college. My parents had never been to college. I had never been a mentor before, but I really like working with young people.”

To learn how you can mentor or volunteer in SBISD, please call the SBISD Community Relations Department at 713-251- 2286.