"I attended college on a "traditional path," I wasn't the first in my family to attend college, and I was privileged by my upbringing. Even so, I faced serious social-emotional challenges in college. I was turned down by 10 of 11 schools and entered college coping with rejection and lacking confidence. I spent my early years in college trying to prove that my admissions experience wasn't representative of my potential. While I succeeded academically, I struggled deeply with balance, belonging, and self-confidence. It took me years to value my own opinions in the classroom and begin to fully appreciate my accomplishments. In retrospect, I am grateful for those who helped me persevere and forever empathetic to the challenges and pitfalls of a formative college experience."
Prior to founding Mentor Collective, Jackson worked at L.E.K. Consulting, helping businesses address their most pressing strategic challenges. Jackson is a proud alumnus of Indiana University and a fluent speaker of Mandarin Chinese.
Co-Founder and COO
"I was very goal-oriented in college, and in order to achieve my goals, I had to improve my time-management skills and learn to focus on doing less, rather than more (quality over quantity)."
James, born in New York City, attended elementary school in Taipei. He later attended Stuyvesant High School and graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Carleton College with majors in Chemistry and Chinese. While studying abroad in China at several universities, James became passionate about mentorship as an effective mechanism for cross-cultural growth and integration, leading to the eventual creation of Mentor Collective. Previously, James worked at L.E.K., a global strategy consulting firm, and worked in recruiting/marketing for Teach for America.
Manager of Finance and Operations
What was unexpected about my college education was that my most valuable learnings came through experiences outside of the classroom, not in it. While my classes were great and taught me the technical skills necessary to succeed in my field, I learned the most about myself and the world around me through relationships, conversations, and experiences with people that pushed me out of my comfort zone. Seek out those conversations!
Before moving to New England to attend Boston College, Emma grew up in Morristown, New Jersey and is a proud Jersey Girl at heart. She holds a B.A. in Economics from BC's College of Arts and Sciences and a Master of Finance from BC's Carroll Graduate School of Management. Prior to joining Mentor Collective, Emma worked as a financial litigation consultant at Duff & Phelps and as a Senior Financial Analyst for Boston Consulting Group. Emma is a huge baseball fan (go Yankees!), loves lifting weights and researching nutrition trends, and listening to new music
Director of Partner Success
"Juggling my responsibilities and workload as a teacher, alongside obtaining my Master's in Educational Leadership meant it was hard to manage my time effectively. I was lucky to have such a supportive mentor at my school, who helped me by offering encouragement and advice."
Polly is passionate about empowering students through personalized learning and mentorship. Before joining Mentor Collective, she taught high school English in London, U.K, for three years and is a Teach for All Ambassador. Polly’s first hand experience of moving to the U.S.A. compelled her to join Mentor Collective, to help others successfully integrate into life in the U.S.A. Polly loves to discover new places in her spare time, enjoys going to the theatre and is currently trying to learn Italian.
Polly has a Master’s degree from University College London in Educational Leadership and a Bachelor’s degree majoring in English Literature. Polly considers herself a global citizen and lifelong explorer!
Director of Mentorships & Operations
"I would advise my past self to take advantage of all the cool people around me. Going to college is about a lot more than getting good grades. I could have invested more in the unique opportunities provided by WashU, built more relationships with professors, and got involved in interesting side projects."
George savors taking apart problems. He joined Mentor Collective to create sustainable social impact. Before Mentor Collective, George worked with Bain & Company and founded a coworking space in St. Louis dedicated to supporting social entrepreneurs. While at Washington University in St. Louis for his undergraduate degree George studied Chinese, Computer Science, Entrepreneurship and Design.
Head of Go To Market
"I would have told my past self to spend more time learning and asking questions about what ELSE is out there... careers, professions, advanced degrees, industries... without feeling the pressure to make a choice about which one was right for me."
Elise was born and raised in inner-city Boston and deeply values the crossroads of culture and class that experience gave her. Prior to joining Mentor Collective, Elise was the Director of Sales and Marketing at MindMax where she led new university partnerships. She also worked with universities nationwide at Crimson Hexagon, a industry-leading SaaS company, and brings nonprofit experience from her work at Year Up, Inc. Elise earned her MBA in marketing at Simmons College School of Management and her Bachelor of Arts degree from Gordon College. Elise loves her (big) family, lifting weights, and playing the piano (in that order).
"[I would advise my college self to not] be afraid to take classes that you feel are challenging and far outside of your comfort zone -- especially those in STEM. And don't let early bad grades in those classes deter you. You belong in these classes, and your future self will be using the foundations that you build more than you know!"
Eliza is passionate about empowering all kinds of curious minds. Before joining Mentor Collective, she worked as a student advisor, data analyst and program manager in both non-profits and startups -- including Quad Learning and AVID -- focused on non-traditional and underserved students. She graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University, where she studied the history of US education policy and sat on the editorial board of the Cornell Daily Sun.
Partner Success Manager
“One thing I love about working in the education industry, is that we are able to help students to unlock their fullest potential and also enjoy their college experience more fully. Meaningful mentorship enhances a student's educational experience on a multifaceted level.”
Katie moved from NYC to Boston to join the Mentor Collective team. Katie graduated from Boston College with a degree in International Studies, with a focus on Ethics and Social Justice and a minor in Philosophy. In college, she was heavily involved in an international student mentorship program where she appreciated firsthand the positive impact mentorship can have. Katie's other interests include international travel, tennis and cooking.
In the education industry, we are actively investing in future generations. Although it's one of the slower-moving industries, it is also one of the most important ones."
Sean is a technology enthusiast that love experimenting with different mediums and has a passion for using technology to change the way people interact with each other. Prior to Mentor Collective, Sean was the co-founder and CTO for Wizdy, a startup that teaches health education through mobile games. Although he majored in computer science at Tufts University, Sean enjoys a wide range of hobbies including graphic design and music production.
Senior Director of Partnerships
"[The advice I would give my college self is] ask more questions, take advantage of more programs and opportunities outside of the classroom."
Chris Elia is from East Lyme, CT and graduated from Merrimack College in Andover, MA. After playing lacrosse in college, Chris moved to England where he continued to play and also worked as an ambassador of the sport within schools. This is what drove his interest in international education, and he has built his career working in sales and partnerships within higher ed. Chris came to Mentor Collective from Hotcourses, where he helped schools build their brand and generate interest from students in their target international markets.
“After a less than ideal high school experience, college was the time where I was able to be authentic, confident and pursue passions I didn’t know I had. For me, my mentors were critical to my ability to thrive in college, helping me navigate new waters, find unique opportunities and provide pep talks when needed. After nearly two decades in education, I’ve seen my former students enter this same journey. I’ve heard from them how critical their mentors have been, and seen where students have struggled without them. This, along with my own experience has solidified for me just how critical mentorship is.”
Vanessa is a career educator passionate about education equity. She believes that all people, regardless of where they live, who they are, or how they identify, should have access and opportunities to a safe, empowering environments to learn. As a STEM education expert, and an equal rights advocate, she has spent her nearly 20 years in education working to ensure access to meaningful, real-world learning experiences on a variety of platforms for all learners. Vanessa taught in DC Public Schools for 14 years, and most recently came to Mentor Collective from Out Teach, as their National Director for Education. She holds a BA from Bates College and an MAT from Trinity College in Washington, DC.
Senior Software Engineer
“I came out of college frustrated by my education. Going to a larger state school, I struggled to find the value in the hundred person lectures where my voice seemed insignificant (especially while racking up huge student loans!). Looking back, I now know the real value of my college experience was in the people I met, the relationships I built, and the guidance I received from my more personal relationships, outside the classroom. Still, I wish I had someone to tell me at the time that it was up to me to make the most out of my education. Even in a school with tens of thousands of people, there are still plenty of opportunities to find your own smaller communities where you can learn the skills to help you succeed later in life. You just have to look for them."
Mike graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After deciding that he didn't actually want to be a Mechanical Engineer, he instead joined an apprentice program for Software Engineering at Wayfair. After 5 years there, he's firmly planted himself in the world of software. He now enjoys all things web development. His guilty pleasures include perusing the latest frontend frameworks, filling out Bachelor brackets, and letting his partner's dog lay on the couch when she's not looking.
Mentorships Research Lead
”I would tell my younger self] that progress is not linear. Be patient with yourself, and don't move on to the next big thing immediately. Take time to acknowledge and enjoy success!”
Jenna graduated with her Ph.D in Musicology from Northwestern University in 2019, and is excited to further her commitment to education and research with Mentor Collective. As a graduate student, she taught undergraduate courses in music, helping students make connections between art, politics, and culture in the past and present. Jenna is currently based in Durham, NC where she has been a Visiting Scholar at Duke University since 2018.
Partner Success Operations Associate
During my first two years of college, I spent most of my time on campus. Fortunately, studying abroad during my junior year opened my eyes to the value of plugging into my local community. When I returned to campus from my studies in Ecuador, I began exploring the city of Memphis and investing more time in off-campus opportunities. This change enriched my college experience by helping me feel connected to a larger community. I’d encourage all college students to engage in activities off-campus, both abroad and just around the corner.
Sarah is a proud Nashville native and recent transplant to the Boston area. She holds a B.A. in Spanish and Psychology from Rhodes College and a master’s degree in International Education Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Prior to joining Mentor Collective, Sarah worked as a college planner, middle school Spanish teacher, and ESL instructor for students in China. Sarah enjoys spending time with friends and family, cheering on the Dodgers, and traveling whenever possible.
Associate Product Manager
"I would tell my college self (and remind present me) that life is so much richer when you take experiences as they come and don't remain fixated on following a preset timeline. Don't listen to what other people tell you happiness should like like; figure out what that means for yourself!"
Sonia is originally from Minnesota but has also called far-flung places such as Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Aix-en-Provence, the Loire Valley, and snowy Chicago her home. Over the past few years, she has taught university German and led study abroad programs while conducting doctoral research. With her free time, she enjoys learning new languages, volunteering for Imerman Angels, and taking pictures of her dog. She holds a BA in English, French, and German from Cornell University and a PhD in Comparative Literary Studies from Northwestern University.
Senior Director of Partnerships
“If your plan is for 100 years, educate the people…. Higher education is the one of the important industries to impact the future, we must keep learning how to learn.”
Matt majored in entrepreneurship at Miami University. After some time in Chicago, he moved to China and built a business to “help accelerate the assimilation process of Chinese students as they studied abroad”. Later he moved to Boston, for the seafood and to be in the global education hub. Prior to joining Mentor Collective, Matt worked for Studyportals helping connect international students to higher education institutions in the US.
Senior Director of Partnerships
"Almost every major cultural revolution, medical advance, or technological breakthrough has its origins in a decision that was made on a college campus. Higher education is the lifeblood of progress in the world."
Joe Michie is based in Denver, Colorado and has spent the last twelve years working closely with higher education leaders globally to identify and understand factors that lead students to leave an institution. After years of diagnosing student success challenges through market research and analytics at Hanover Research and Eduventures, Joe was driven to help grow a solution that is addressing these important challenges.
Senior Software Engineer
"I expected my college experience to be mostly focused on academics. The experiences outside of the classroom and the relationships I made shaped my personality and future success more than any classes I took."
Sammy took the scenic route to software engineering. He entered the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as a Computer Science major and after studying abroad in Japan, he ended up with a degree in International Studies. He went on to get a Master's degree in Public Policy but then found his way back to software engineering while working in the tech industry in Boston. He enjoys traveling, learning, and building things!
Assistant Director of Success Manager
"[One of the biggest challenges for me in college was] stepping into the person that I was becoming without feeling like I was leaving a version of myself or my community behind."
MyHanh is a champion of educational access and equity for students. She has spent more than a decade improving the educational experience through systems engineering and operations. MyHanh is a native Vietnamese speaker and first-generation college student, who was engaged in campus initiatives to increase dialogue across diverse communities during her undergraduate at Boston College. She earned her EdM from Boston University.
Ali Reza Punjani
Associate in the EdTech Rotational Program
Coming from a low-income background, and as the first person in my family to attend college, university immediately became a complex system for me to navigate. I learned to create a support network for myself that comprised of mostly my peer-mentors, professors, and community mentors.
Ali was born and raised in rural Georgia and spent his summers and winter breaks with family in India. Upon graduating from high school, he attended Emory University on a full merit-based scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Gates Millennium Scholarship), and studied Economics, Religion, and South Asian Studies. Ali was heavily involved in providing platforms for students voices in university through TEDxEmory, being a resident adviser, and facilitating inter and intra-faith dialogues.
He is super passionate about improving educational equity and access to all people regardless of qualification. Prior to joining Mentor Collective, Ali worked in management consulting for Capgemini Invent.
Business Development Representative
“Finding a sense of belonging and community was the hardest part at first since I was placed away from the freshman dorms my first year. Getting the right support system for guidance and mentorship in order to succeed was challenging as well. My college journey hasn’t been a traditional one, starting as an audio engineering/music production major, taking off time to do Year Up and coming back to make my own major (concentrations in Economics and Environment and Society, with a minor in Entrepreneurship), but I definitely found that the most important learning happens outside the classroom and that you should treat the world (and life overall) as a university”.
Kevin enjoy books, documentaries and loves making music (as well as nature/travel). Kevin joined Mentor Collective because of his personal experience of how important and formative mentorship is, in hopes of every student having a truly valuable, supported and seminal college journey. Before joining Mentor Collective, Kevin was at MIT for a year learning about how existing and emerging distributed tech can help solve problems within the music industry. While at UMass Lowell for his undergrad degree, Kevin studied Economics, Environment and Society and Entrepreneurship. Kevin also serves as Chairman of Chelsea Community Schools Advisory Board on his spare time.
Partner Success Lead
Over the past fifteen years I have worked in the educational business providing dedication, commitment, loyalty and passion to support students, their families and their futures. I am motivated by the prospect of changing a student’s life for the better and providing access to resources that will aid in their success. My roles have allowed me to successfully implement new strategies and processes to benefit the institutions and the students they serve . I have taken great pride in working with a wide array of student populations including high school, online, non-traditional and underserved.
I have held numerous positions in higher education and am well versed in enrollment, advising, financial aid and process management. Most recently I was the Director of Admissions at a small, private college with a rich history in the nursing and allied health fields. I’m looking forward to bringing my experiences as well as innovative ideas to my new role at at Mentor Collective.
On a more personal note, I am an avid runner, cyclist and Boston sports fanatic. In my spare time I am teaching my son how to play golf and also enjoy the outdoors as much as possible.
Content and Digital Marketing Manager
"[The advice I would give my college self is] to keep a list of what work makes you proud, what brings you joy, and why. Don’t worry about how they fit into a career, because you will figure that out."
Sidra Tareen believes every student should feel empowered and supported. Before coming to Mentor Collective, she taught English in Malaysia through the Fulbright Program, worked at a digital marketing agency in San Francisco and earned her EdM from Harvard. Sidra is from Portland, OR and, as a lover of rain, coffee and trees, is a proper representative of the Pacific Northwest.
Student Success Manager
“I would advise my past self to always remember to take care of yourself - which would include treating yourself from time to time (like taking a good nap, buying ice-cream, or just doing something you love).”
Jessica is a Philadelphia native who became passionate about reducing education inequality during her senior year in high school when budget cuts left her school of 2,000 students with only 2 counselors. She comes into Mentor Collective with experience in education research, non-profit work, mentorship, and student advising. Jessica also hopes to use her personal experience as a first-generation, low-income student to help students succeed in higher education. During her free time, she can be found volunteering with youth organizations and building model houses. Jessica holds a BA in Health and Societies from the University of Pennsylvania.
"[The advice I would give my college self is] don't be afraid to do the things that scare you -- Turns out you're more than capable!"
Gaby is passionate about reducing educational disparity and supporting students through tricky transitions. While a student teacher in a 2nd grade classroom, Gaby conducted research on mindfulness and applies it to her everyday pedagogy. An eager learner, Gaby received her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master of Arts in Teaching from Brandeis University. Gaby considers herself to be a life-long learner and hopes to travel the world!
“Advice I would give to my past self would be to explore more of the activities and programs that my university offered. It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone, but it is much more beneficial to your personal development to try new things and seek opportunities.”
Jackie is from Lowell, MA where she also attended the University of Massachusetts Lowell and obtained her BSBA. She is a motivated learner and always planning her next adventure. She recently discovered a new found joy in running and completed her first half marathon the summer of ’18. Her free time consists of competitive board games with her family by the lake, trips to the beach, and taking road trips with friends.
Student Success Manager
”The advice I would give my college self is] enjoy everything - the good times, the bad times, and the happy times. Everything you experience while in college will stay with you forever!”
Lauren is a California native who enjoys hiking, coffee, and dogs! She became excited about learning and helping others academically while volunteering in a kindergarten special needs classroom. Passionate about learning, Lauren received her Bachelor’s in Health & Human Services and Master of Arts in Social Science from Brandeis University. Lauren considers herself to be an adventure guru and loves to travel solo.
Student Success Manager
Rachel is a Massachusetts native who is currently making her way in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a dog lover and language enthusiast. When she is not training mentors at Mentor Collective, she is spending time with family, taking online courses or volunteering with high school students.
Kenton is a former U.S. Air Force officer and electrical engineer turned software engineer, primarily focused on building web applications. He has been working as an engineer for 10+ years.
Senior Data Advisor
Joe brings more than 15 years of statistics and software development experience to Mentor Collective. His academic work uses experimentation and novel statistical techniques to study political inequality and representation. Joe’s research is published in top peer-reviewed outlets. A proven leader in the research and public sectors, he built a successful analytical enterprise at Prattle and managed projects at The White House. Joe is a Ph.D. Candidate at Columbia; he holds a Master’s from Columbia and a Bachelor’s from Washington University in St. Louis.