10 Who Make a Difference: Diane Ilstrup - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

10 Who Make a Difference: Diane Ilstrup

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -

This week, KTTC and the United Way of Olmsted County are honoring ten people or groups that are making a difference in our community.

Our last (but certainly not least!) recipient of this year's batch of winners is Diane Ilstrup.

Ilstrup started the STRIVE program in 1999, at John Marshall High School, while she was principal.

Since its start-up, it's grown to include Mayo and Century High Schools, as well.

Ilstrup recognized the need for students to take their education seriously, and wanted to make sure those students who wanted to turn things around had that option.

Enter STRIVE, or Students Taking a Renewed Interest in the Value of Education.

With the help of the Greater Rochester Rotary, this program gives seniors in high school a chance to turn their GPA around and graduate.

Each student gets an adult mentor, to spend time and show them how important education really is.

“They have a mentor and that person spends time with them, encouraging them, talking to them about post-secondary opportunities, giving some guidance. They do not tutor; that is not the purpose of the program. It's to friendship and to help the students have success during that senior year. They text, they email, and we have a meeting once a month,” explained Ilstrup.

Though she is the one who spearheaded the organization in Rochester, according to Ilstrup, it's those who mentor and the students' hard work that make it a success...not because of her.

"It's others in this program. You know, I just happen to be the co-chair and get involved in it. But it's the mentors and the students who really make the program. And of course the counseling staff at each high school that helps us work the program with the students," said Ilstrup.

100 percent of this year's 47 STRIVE participants gradated from their respective high schools.

And of last year's group, 83 percent went on to post-secondary education ventures.

Ilstrup said STRIVE has impacted the lives of over 1000 students in it's 17 years.

Thank you, Diane Ilstrup, for all that you do. You truly do make a difference.

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