SUMMIT SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT: Jean Eddy, President and CEO, American Student Assistance (ASA)

Jean Eddy, President and CEO, American Student Assistance
January 7th, 2020
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Jean Eddy, President and CEO, American Student Assistance (ASA)

At ASA we help kids know themselves, know their options, and make informed choices to achieve their education and career goals. We believe that there is a path for every student and a plan for every future. Our work provides tools and resources to help young people – as early as middle school – to discover their interests and aptitudes, and explore education and career options that align with those discoveries.

Each students’ pathway is unique. Some may attend a traditional four-year college or community college, while others may decide to pursue technical training, an apprenticeship or the military. These are difficult choices to navigate, particularly at a young age, and we believe mentors play a vital role in guiding teens on this important journey.

Our own research has shown that middle school and high school students have a strong need and desire for guidance, emotional support and resources to help them plan for life after high school. While they are excited about what comes next, they are uncertain about their futures. Mentors are on the front lines – forging connections, building trust and serving as advisers – at a critical and formative time in young people’s lives. They are well-positioned to lend kids the additional support they need as they plan for and pursue their dreams.


Mentoring can be Life-Changing, for the Mentor and the Mentee

The positive impact of mentoring is not just something our organization feels strongly about, it’s also very personal for me.

Before joining ASA, I spent my career in higher education. I worked in many offices and played many roles to help kids find their place in the world. As I moved from job to job – university to university – I was blessed to have people who were interested in me. They asked me challenging questions, poked me when I wasn’t aiming high enough, and encouraged me when I was wrestling with a problem.

If you’ve had a good mentor, when you get the call yourself, you answer it. Mentoring has been an enormous part of my professional career. And the absolute best is when one of those mentees comes back and thanks you for the role you played in his or her life.

Throughout the years I’ve been fortunate to receive all kinds of “thank yous” from mentees – from Facebook posts and LinkedIn messages, to invitations to graduation parties, weddings and even baby showers. But my favorite happened about four years ago when I was giving a speech to business leaders in my home state of Rhode Island. Afterward, a young man approached me and asked if I was “his” Jean Eddy. I wasn’t quite sure how to respond!

I looked carefully at his very wide smile, and recognized a young college student from 15 years ago. He’d needed a guide, a friend, a sounding board – he’d needed a mentor. As we caught up, he hugged me and told me that I had changed his life. That was an incredible feeling, and once you’ve had that feeling, you kind of get hooked on it. I joined ASA because I believe that we can do rewarding and meaningful work with young people every day. Together, ASA and MENTOR are changing lives.


Jean Eddy is the president and CEO of American Student Assistance (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.

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