ACE Mentor Spotlight: Jessica Tanner 2019 ACE Volunteer of the Year
“My most memorable moment was attending my first ACE Banquet. The event was around 6 weeks after I started volunteering with the program. Entering a room of 400 people and feeling the energy of all the excited students and their families and friends cheering them on; it was amazing to see over one hundred thousand dollars in scholarships be given away to these deserving students. Seeing it all firsthand was incredible.” - Jessica Tanner, ACE Mentor Program Volunteer of the Year 2019
When Jessica Tanner was first introduced to the ACE Program through supporting sponsor, Gilbane Building Company, she experienced firsthand the positive impact that the ACE Mentor Program has on students’ futures. As an A/E/C professional who discovered her passion for construction through a unique career path, Jessica looks to her own career pathway experiences to mentor students to realize their own potential.
After receiving a Masters in Sports Recreation Management, Jessica’s career path eventually landed her the job as a Marketing Specialist at Gilbane, where one of her first tasks was to get involved with the ACE Program. What began as a work project, developed into a love for mentoring students to help them achieve career success in their own futures. Four years later, Jessica maintains that ACE is a critical cornerstone in her life
During her time with the ACE Mentor program, Jessica has been able to impact hundreds of students during some of the most critical years of their lives. Watching the students transform from the beginning of their junior year to graduation, drives her to constantly be at John Hay to educate the students or simply allow them to lean on her as a friend.
Positive reinforcement is her mantra and she encourages every student to take full advantage of all that the program has to offer from leadership skills to team building, public speaking and most importantly, the ability to discover your own strengths and passions from within.
As 2019 volunteer of the year Jessica is not only a valued mentor from the students, but her fellow lead mentors as well. "Jessica from her first day with Gilbane has been an outstanding supporter and leader for ACE Cleveland. She contributes in numerous ways - organizing events, creating materials and leading the John Hay team. A few years ago, she was nationally recognized by Gilbane Building Company for her leadership in the ACE Mentor Program." Glen Shumate, ACE Mentor Program of Cleveland Executive Director.
Who would you say inspires or motivates you?
Personally, my husband, growing up together, meeting in High School we have learned to tackle challenges head-on. He is always there to pick me up if I am having a bad day. Professionally, I have been lucky to have three mentors who have mentored me throughout the years. I have a bit of a different background then what you would typically see here, 4 years ago I came to Gilbane from Kent State Athletics. At Kent State, I worked with Kristan Dolan and have I always looked up to her for advice. At Gilbane Courtney Behm and Breanne Auxier both want the best for you and go the extra mile on your behalf. They inspire me to be a better person.
How have you seen students thrive and grow through the program, do you have any first-hand examples?
The biggest differences you see working with the students is watching them enter the program timid and shy and then by the end of Junior year they are owning the project, by senior year they are mentoring some of the younger students. It is crazy to see them grow so quickly as time goes on. They become more confident in themselves and each other, and in the end, they are able to present to large groups of up to 400 people.
What advice would you give to someone considering getting involved in ACE for the first time from your perspective as a mentor?
Get involved! Thinking about mentoring high school students can be intimidating, but it is a great program to get involved with. This is an awesome program as you are helping craft these students lives and futures. This is a great way to give back and strengthen your professional network with like-minded passionate individuals.