Strayer alumna Jessica Brown is changing the world—one student at a time. She’s a woman on a mission: a mission to help everyone afford an education. And she’s been remarkably successful so far. With the help of her degree, Jessica went from financial aid officer to author, motivational speaker, CEO and consultant. She now travels the country as an industry expert, speaking to students, parents, news outlets and huge audiences nationwide about saving for college.
When Jessica first started out, she never imagined it would come to this. She never thought she’d be jet-setting in pursuit of her passion, or that she’d be so successful so quickly. But she did know one thing: that she was always passionate about education. Jessica has always believed that “everyone deserves an education.” After graduating Howard University with her bachelor’s degree in 2012, Jessica got a job at Strayer University as a Student Financial Services representative. She discovered that she loved the role; she loved helping students and doing so, she found, fulfilled her. During her tenure, she helped thousands of students, who otherwise would not have been able to attend college, secure financial aid. She received hundreds of thank you notes from parents and students alike—notes that still motivate and empower her to this day.
It was at this time that Jessica also had the opportunity to meet Strayer Education CEO, Karl McDonnell. “Meeting Karl changed my life,” Jessica says, “I was shocked a CEO had the time to meet somebody like me, and his willingness to hear my ideas really left an impact. After the meeting, I decided I wanted to be a CEO like Karl.”
With new entrepreneurial ambitions, Jessica went back to school. She enrolled in Strayer’s Science Management program and graduated with a master’s degree in 2014. After graduating, she was inspired to start her business, College Gurl, an organization which teaches people how to pay and save for college. College Gurl has really taken off, bringing Jessica fame with it. She has been featured on many local and national news networks, has created a charity in the College Gurl name, and has used proceeds from said charity to provide scholarships to students in the Baltimore metropolitan area. The most recent donation came from Strayer University--$10,000 signed off by Karl himself.
Since founding College Gurl, Jessica has also written a book, “How to Pay for College When You’re Broke,” with a second book in the works. Jessica is also working on other ambitious projects, including a financial planning mobile app for students and parents. She’s also currently enrolled in a second master’s program. Asked her advice for students considering go back to school, she had this to say: “A lot of people get caught up on the name thing, thinking they HAVE to go to Harvard or Yale. Well, that’s hundreds of thousands of dollars. One of my biggest pieces of advice is that you can get an education from anywhere. Your degree is what you make of it.”
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