Sometime in the summer of 1999, Alumnus Eddy Olafeso expressed a novel idea to his alumni friends Gbenga Agboola and Olumide Agbesanwa, borne out of frustration with the dubious personalities of a few Nigerians he came across in Houston TX. Eddy could no more tolerate the mentality of some Nigerian friends who did not attend Universities in Nigeria to run down such Nigerian Universities and graduates even fired up his resolve to look for likeminded people, such as Great Ife Alumni to form an association in Houston TX.
The three alumni friends set out on the project to form an alumni association in Houston TX with Eddy Olafeso as the arrowhead. While Eddy and Olumide worked the phones by selling the idea to known alumni in Houston TX, Gbenga searched the internet for Houston TX based alumni to invite by email for the inaugural meeting of the Association.
In September 1999, the inaugural meeting of Great Ife Alumni Association, USA chapter was held at Adams Mark Hotel (now Marriott Hotel) Briar Park Road, Houston TX. The meeting was relatively well attended and successful. Including the three conveners of the first alumni meeting, the following alumni were also present as foundation members- Deola Shoyombo, Babalola Chris-Rotimi, and Taiwo Kayode. Our membership database has been growing in geometric progression since the inaugural meeting. We have also been consistently holding our monthly breakfast meetings since September, 1999 to date.
In December 1999, the young Alumni association organized the first annual Christmas Party for alumni, friends and families. The huge success of the event created a wide awareness of the association within the Nigerian Community in Houston TX, and significantly increased membership participation in the affairs of the association.
Over the next five years, Houston branch successfully organized and hosted the first three Alumni International Reunions in Houston TX. At the 2004 Alumni International Reunion, the efforts to establish another branch of the Association paid off with the charter given to begin Dallas/Forth- Worth (DFW) TX branch. Administratively and structurally, Houston branch thus became the headquarters of the USA chapter
Other programs and projects initiated, funded and organized by Houston branch in support of our alma mater includes the following:
- Raised and donated $30,000 for the Computerization and ICT infrastructural development of Biological Sciences department and the Transcript Section.
- Created and administers an effective online transcript request service for alumni worldwide.
- “Adopt-A-Room” - Alumni donate $200 per room annually towards the refurbishment and maintenance of their choice of former rooms in the halls of residence. (Commemorative etching of participating alumni names can be made in the designated rooms)
- Annual Scholarship Endowment Funds for specific departments and course programs by individual alumni members.
- Pioneered the development of a robust worldwide Great Ife Alumni database.
- Maintained the presence and prominence of Great Ife Alumni Association on the World Wide Web since 2000.
In reminiscence of the fine tradition of Great Ife Inaugural Lectures, the Houston branch regularly organizes and presents educative and informative Lectures/Seminars based on topics ranging from Immigrant Health to group/personal Investment and Insurance, to our members, families and friends.
In fulfillment of our social and tax exempt responsibilities to our local community, we adopted Houston Food Bank as our Charity Organization, and have selflessly volunteered our member’s time, serving at the Houston Bank facilities, one day every year since 2002. We also volunteer our services to the local National Public Radio (KUHF) during their bi-annual fund raising and membership drives.
We have about one hundred (100) alumni members in our branch membership database. Over the years, we started to have more weary ‘hands on the deck’ of the affairs of the association, in comparison to our earlier years. However our self rejuvenation efforts are gradually yielding new and diverse members, including very passionate associate members (non graduates of Great Ife). Our efforts are also re-energizing the weary ‘hands and legs’ among our older membership.
As the trailblazer in the establishment of Nigerian Universities Alumni Associations in the diaspora, the USA chapter that was started in Houston in 1999 has indeed become the proud ‘grandfather’ to many branches across USA, and motivation cum inspirational beacon to other chapters of Great Ife Alumni and the rest of Nigerian Universities’ alumni organizations.
Great Ife Alumni Association Inc. USA is a registered Association in the State of Texas and is also registered as a Non-Profit, Tax Exempt Association with USA Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Updated April, 2012.