• The Ionia High School community takes great pride in the success of our IHS graduates. Since opening our doors in 1871, the Ionia High School community has dedicated our efforts to educating caring, competent, passionate, and connected members of society. Below you will see a growing number of alumni profiles shared as part of our “Where are they now?” effort to highlight the many successes of our IHS family. We thank you for your continued support of our programs and encourage our IHS graduates to share their stories by emailing cbowen@ioniaschools.org.

    Justin Vansyckle - Class of 2010

    Justin is a 2010 graduate of Ionia High School and the son of retired Ionia Public Schools teachers, Jim and Kathy Vansyckle.

    Throughout high school, Justin was a very involved student, with a variety of interests. He was involved with Student Council all four years, Link Crew (formally known as Blue Crew) for two years, a cast member in the musical Into the Woods during his sophomore year, and a student athlete who participated in basketball and tennis. Justin admits that he may have been a little loud and over-the-top during his high school years and was constantly trying to get a laugh out of those around him. He remembers thinking that he would grow up to be a physical education or history teacher and coach basketball, like his dad did.

    After graduation, Justin began his collegiate educational journey at Central Michigan University. After almost four years, he left CMU without a degree and moved back home with his parents. This was a life-changing moment for Justin as he realized that he needed to start taking his mental health seriously and reassess what he wanted to do in the future. Justin shared a few words with us about this specific time in his life that I think are important for the students of Ionia High School to digest: “The advice I would give to any young person reading this is that it's okay to not know how you want to spend the rest of your life at 18 years old. It's okay to take the time to figure yourself out. Don't feel pressured to attend a 4-year university just because it's what your friends are doing or it's the ‘status quo’. You can go to a trade school or you can attend community college to complete your general education classes and later transfer credits to a university, if that is the choice that you find is best for yourself. Don't let someone else's success get you down because everyone's circumstances are different.”

    During that first year after CMU, Justin began working at local restaurant, Olivera’s, and was able to eventually begin paying for online classes through Davenport University, where he later graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with an emphasis on Leadership/Management. After he finished his degree, he became a licensed insurance agent, worked as a foreman for Gus Macker Basketball, served and managed Olivera's Restaurant, and interned at Saranac High School for the Athletic Director (which he found to be a truly awesome experience).

    After gathering a few years of experience in a multitude of different professions, Justin landed the Marketing and Business Development Manager position at Michigan One Community Credit Union, back in his hometown! Just stated that this career change was a huge success for him, and also, very interesting and fun to be working with adults that he has known since he was a little kid. He finds his job incredibly rewarding.

    The last bit of advice that Justin leaves for the students of IHS, particularly the graduating seniors who will be out in the workforce very soon, “Be hardworking, humble, and grateful for your work experience because your previous boss will more than likely be your first letter of recommendation on the job hunt."

    Travis and Megan (Wireman) Thomas - Class of 2002 and 2003

    Travis Thomas is a 2002 graduate from IHS and Megan (Wireman) Thomas is a 2003 graduate from IHS. Megan played soccer all through school and Travis started working at a young age at his uncle’s farm market.

    Travis and Megan, who embarked on their entrepreneurial journey in lawn care in 2010 and a property investment company in 2017, have come a long way since those early school days. Their determination and belief in the power of a strong work ethic have truly paid off. Today, their lawn care business has expanded beyond their wildest dreams. They've not only become a go-to service for lawn care in our community, they have branched out to offer landscaping and property maintenance services. Their commitment to quality work and excellent customer service has earned them a stellar reputation, resulting in consistent growth over the years.

    In 2017, they ventured into property investment, capitalizing on their industry knowledge and the profits generated from their lawn care business. Over time, their property investment company has flourished. They've acquired numerous rental properties, and their real estate portfolio continues to grow, providing a stable source of income for their family. Travis and Megan have two children, Carter and Carson, currently Ionia High School students, have witnessed their parents' hard work and dedication and have inherited these values, as well.

    While Travis and Megan did not attend college, they are pursuing their own entrepreneurial endeavors and exploring various career paths, inspired by their parents' belief that a strong work ethic can open doors to success. In this "Where Are They Now?"  story, Megan and Travis serve as a testament to the idea that a commitment to hard work and a dedication to one's goals can indeed take you anywhere in life, even without a formal college education. Their journey is a prime example of how determination and perseverance can lead to great achievements.

    Travis and Megan were both students in Building Trades offered by the Heartlands program (now ICCC - located in the Ionia Educational Center).  They are thankful for the opportunity to learn a skilled trade that expanded, later on, into a successful career.

    Tara (Reisbig) Falcone, Class of 2007


    Tara (Reisbig) Falcone is an IHS Class of 2007 grad, entrepreneur, and finance expert. She was awarded a full need-based financial aid scholarship to Yale University, where she majored in Spanish and pre-med. After graduating from Yale in 2011, Tara abruptly switched paths from pre-med to finance and began her career as an investment analyst in New York City. Four years later, she left Wall Street to become an entrepreneur and create financial solutions for people like her friends and family. Her first business, LIT, teaches students about personal finance and was recently acquired by another company. Her second business, Reason, is a goal-based investing app that helps you invest for specific financial goals in a more organized and intentional way. Tara now lives in San Diego with her husband, John, an Officer in the US Navy, and two rescue dogs. 

    In March of 2023, Tara was a guest speaker at IHS where she spoke to our Bulldog and Senior Scholars about her pathway to success. See that video here.