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Alumni Spotlight: Five Questions with IPS Alums– Kayla Saunders Discusses How IPS Made a Difference in Her Life

Indianapolis Public Schools is proud of our graduates and their diverse, inspiring journeys. We have created the IPS Alumni Spotlight to celebrate our former students and showcase their experiences, accomplishments, and personal interests. Every graduate has a unique path, and we can all learn from their journeys.

IPS recently asked Kayla Saunders, a 2016 graduate of Crispus Attucks High School, about her journey that began in the state’s largest district.

After spending three years in the IUPUI SPAN program in high school, she attended IUPUI, earning a Bachelor of Science in health sciences in 2019. She went on to earn a master’s degree in health administration in 2021. She is currently a health system specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs, working at the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System.

Q—How did your experiences at Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) shape your educational foundation and career aspirations?

A— Attending IPS from the first through 12th grades allowed me to have continuity while receiving my education from the same school system. When I look back at my time at Rousseau McClellan School 91, I remember having teachers and faculty who wanted me to succeed and helped me develop my skill set so that I would be successful in high school. This theme continued when I attended Crispus Attucks, where I found my passion for working within health care. Mr. Weyand, who works at George Washington High School now, was responsible for my decision to minor in health administration as an undergrad at IUPUI, and then pursue my Master of Health Administration degree. This was a pivotal conversation within my life and career, and I cannot thank him enough for bringing this career field to my attention.

Q—Can you share memorable moments or teachers who significantly impacted your time at IPS?

A—This is a hard question to answer, as most of the teachers I had while in IPS had an impact on me. However, I would like to highlight my first, second and third-grade teachers Ms. McAllister and Ms. Gravenstreeter; middle school teachers Ms. Pfaffenberge and Ms. Lord; and my high school teachers Ms. Sellers, Mr. Weyand, and Mr. Weedling. I still talk with these teachers and am grateful for them investing the time they did into me.

Q—How has your education at IPS influenced your personal and professional development since graduating?

A—I remain an active alumnus with IPS, especially with Crispus Attucks High School. I have attended career day events, along with being a mentor for the IUPUI SPAN Program, which has allowed me to network with current students.

Q— What specific skills or knowledge gained at IPS have proven most valuable in your current life or career?

A—Throughout my time in IPS we had a lot of projects or collaborated within the classroom frequently. This is a skill that I use every day in the workplace, and I feel like the initial exposure to working with others within IPS has helped me be successful in my career.

Q—What was the one program that made a difference in your life?

A—The IUPUI SPAN Program was an invaluable experience. Due to participating in this program while at Crispus Attucks, I was able to graduate from undergrad at IUPUI within three years versus four. This was another invaluable experience, and I’m glad that other students can go through this program.