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An Accounting Powerhouse and Thriving Neighbors Team Up for a Day of Mentorship and Fun

In everything he does as an associate in the Americas Corporate Responsibility group at Ernst & Young (EY), Garrett Jensen ’14 looks to the team’s guiding principles called the 3E’s:  entrepreneurship, equity in the workplace, and education. 

Jensen’s main focus at work—the firm’s mentoring program College MAP—empowers students in underserved high schools throughout 34 U.S. cities, so they can gain access to and succeed in college.

So in 2015, when EY put out a companywide call for folks to lead a community-outreach project, Jensen naturally thought of his alma mater. “I immediately signed up to be an EY Connect Day project leader,” Jensen says.

The annual event, held Oct. 6 this year, rallies thousands of EY employees across the Americas to participate in community-outreach activities in their local schools and other nonprofit organizations. Jensen leads this one for SCU every year.

The day is mostly about fun—face painting, games, and sports —but students also get to talk a bit about their education as well—what they’ve experienced and what they’ve accomplished.

“It’s a blast,” says Jensen. “Really just getting adults and middle schoolers for the most part communicating with one another.”

In early 2012, Jensen was an accounting student and participant in the business school’s Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative (NPI). Before Thriving Neighbors at the Ignatian Center existed, NPI wanted business students out in the neighborhood supporting the community and, in turn, learning about the reality of what it means to run a business when you’re low-income.

“There was a sense of we’re sending kids abroad to do all these things,” Jensen says. “But we thought the challenge is right here in our backyard.”

Jensen and his team became more embedded into the community through their collaboration with San Jose’s Washington Elementary School, which he describes as the heart and the epicenter of the community.

EY partner and SCU alum Dave Price ’93 oversees the firm’s relationship with Santa Clara University, including recruiting and development. He serves as senior advisor, mentor, and counselor to EY’s younger partners and executives in the Bay Area and is active in EY’s community outreach initiatives in Silicon Valley, including EY Connect Day at Washington Elementary.

Jensen says, “What is great is that we have Irene Cermeño and Abby Denk from the Ignatian staff talk about the neighborhood and the initiative, we have me talk about EY Connect Day and the corporate responsibility strategy, and then, Dave Price and the EY partners talk about what it all means to them.”

Over the past three years, Jensen has worked with his company and the Thriving Neighbors team to adapt and improve EY Connect Day. He says, “I love it, and I plan on continuing with it as we move forward.”

Jensen first gained an appreciation for reaching out to his community when he attended a Jesuit high school in his hometown of Portland. It was then that he also realized not all Catholic schools were the same.

“The Jesuits are rock star priests,” he says. “They are very cool, passionate people of all backgrounds, and that brought me to Santa Clara. That Jesuit experience—it's kind of an unspoken part to us that resonates with others.”

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