SUMMIT SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT: Q&A with Jean Eddy of American Student Assistance (ASA)

Jean Eddy, President and CEO of American Student Assistance (ASA)
January 22nd, 2019
Posted In: Corporate Engagement, National Mentoring Month Blog Series, National Mentoring Summit

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Jean Eddy is the president and CEO of ASA, a national nonprofit committed to helping young people know themselves, know their options and make informed choices to achieve their education and career goals. ASA fulfills its mission by providing tools and resources to students online, in classrooms, and through community-based organizations.

Q: How does mentoring fit with ASA’s mission?

A: We are dedicated to helping young people discover their interests and passions at a young age, and linking those interests with education and career paths. Each pathway will be unique – some may include a traditional four-year college degree, while others may decide to pursue community college, trade school, an apprenticeship or the military. These are difficult choices to navigate, particularly at a young age, and mentors can play a vital role in guiding teens on this important journey.

Q: Why do you think mentors can be effective in helping young people make education and career choices?

ASA just completed a national research study of Generation Z – specifically middle school and high school students – that points to the needs young people have for guidance, emotional support and resources (2018 national online study of 2,400 middle school and high school students):

  • There is a lot of uncertainty among students regarding their future. Students today have a lot of options. Not surprisingly, only about one in four students are ‘absolutely positive’ they know what they want to do for a career. More than half report a high level of stress as they plan for their future after high school.
  • There is a need for resources to plan for next steps after High School. Four in 10 students in middle school or high school don’t feel that their school provides them the right resources to plan those next steps. Additionally, one-third of students say they either don’t have anyone (9 percent) or only one (25 percent) significant influence in planning their education or careers.

Mentors are on the front lines – forging connections, building trust and serving as advisors – at a critical and formative time in young people’s lives. They are well-positioned to lend teens the additional support they need as they plan for and pursue their dreams.

Q: How does ASA encourage and support employees to mentor and serve the community?

A: ASA has a proud history of mentoring and volunteerism. We have long-standing relationships with a number of organizations in the Boston area, such as Cradles to Crayons and Crossroads, where our employees return year after year to donate their time and resources.

We also participate in a year-long reading and mentoring program called “Power Lunch,” in collaboration with Boston Partners in Education. ASA volunteers spend their lunch time reading to first-graders, listening to them read, and doing other educational activities together. The employees enjoy it as much as the students! A number of ASA employees recently reviewed college application essays for local high school students, putting our higher education expertise to good use for teens in our community.

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