Partnership Celebration at Arizona State University: The Highlights

On May 16, Education at Work, ASU, PayPal and USA Funds celebrated the establishment of their partnership.

Education at Work partners with Arizona State University
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On Monday, May 16, Education at Work, Arizona State University, PayPal and USA Funds celebrated the establishment of their partnership with a ribbon cutting celebration at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus.

Members of each partnering team attended the event. Leaders from each partner also spoke, including President Michael M. Crow of Arizona State University; Steve Rolls, Chief Financial Officer of Education at Work; Karen Marshall, VP of Global Operations of PayPal, North America, Latin America, Chandler, AZ; and Bill Hansen, President and CEO of USA Funds. Sharon Maestas, VP of Customer Care at Education at Work’s ASU location, served as emcee.

The University’s mascot himself, Sparky, kicked off the celebration, taking photos with attendees and creating mischievous fun around the room. Guests were encouraged to use #forkthedebt during the celebration to share their experience on social media. The hashtag, which is used for all things Education at Work at the University, represents the bold intention to tackle student debt at ASU.


ASU President Michael M. Crow was the first to speak. “(ASU) is an institution which prides itself on being successful by being inclusive, then by measuring the success of our graduates,” he said.

He described how 76% of the 60,000 undergraduates who attend Arizona State University’s physical campus receive some kind of financial aid to support their education.

“This alliance between ASU, Education at Work, PayPal and USA Funds, is a group of people launching ways in which we can enhance the chance for all students to finish a world-class college education,” he said

Steve Rolls, Education at Work’s Chief Financial Officer, followed President Crow’s speech with sincere thanks to every partner who made the dream of this on-campus center a reality. He recognized USA Funds’ President and CEO Bill Hansen, along with his team, for their support of Education at Work’s vision.

“Our 2025 vision is to employ 100,000 students and to be reducing over $1 billion of student debt annually. This goal is a bold one… But, I can’t think of a better university partner to move us toward that goal than Arizona State University,” he said on behalf of Dave Dougherty, Education at Work’s founder and CEO.

This vision coupled with PayPal’s passion for investing in future leaders is what Rolls described as a “win for all” and a truly extraordinary three way partnership.


Karen Marshall, PayPal’s VP of Global Operations, echoed the excitement expressed by Rolls and President Crow in her remarks.

“What an honor it is for PayPal to be in this win-win-win partnership,” she said. “We’re eagerly looking forward to the benefits PayPal will receive as a result. We expect that the customer satisfaction scores (at the ASU contact center) will be higher than we’ve seen at other centers.”

Addressing the new student hires in the audience she said, “As a growing company, we hope to build a talented pipeline of individuals who would aspire to come work at PayPal.”

It’s this path to possible employment which Bill Hansen, USA Funds’ President and CEO, identified as one of the core reasons Education at Work’s mission drew him in from day one. In his remarks that followed Marshall, he said, “One area we focus on as an organization is trying to fix the disconnect between the 5.8 million unfilled jobs in our economy and college graduates that are coming out and are unable to find jobs.”


Hansen made the observation that employers and universities seem disconnected in what skills they feel graduates should have to succeed. To that point he reiterated how special it is to partner with a non-profit organization and a university, both like-minded with USA Funds, to address this issue.

In conclusion he added how well Education at Work’s mission follows USA Funds’ corporate mantra “Completion with a Purpose.” This mantra encourages students in this country to complete their higher education degree in a purposeful manner and lead purposeful lives. He said, “Education at Work really helps provide opportunities for young men and women to grow, thrive, and find purpose in their lives.”

Following Hansen’s final words, all four leaders were joined by Education at Work’s five student ambassadors to cut the celebratory grand opening ribbon. This exciting moment was met with cheers and applause from all guests.

President Michael M. Crow, Steve Rolls, Shannon Maestas, Karen Marshall, and Bill Hansen are joined by EAW Student Ambassadors Jean-Luc Couste and Sanya Virani for the ceremonial ribbon cutting. Photo courtesy of Deanna Dent, Arizona State University

For the remainder of the celebration, guests were invited to mingle, enjoy refreshments, and eat some of the delicious partnership cake. The success of the day was due in large part to the help of Education at Work student ambassadors Jean-Luc Couste, Akshay Nalla, Lily Sedigh Sarvestani, Michelle Lim, and Sanya Virani. The ambassadors greeted attendees at the door before the event, shared their individual stories with guests, and were powerful representations of how and why this partnership came to be.

AW Student Ambassadors Michelle Lim (top left), Jean-Luc Couste (top right), Akshay Nalla (bottom left), and Lily Sedigh Sarvestani (bottom right) greet guests at the beginning of the ceremony.

This celebration not only marked the beginning of a strong partnership between ASU, PayPal, and Education at Work, but sparked a new world of opportunities for students at Arizona State University.

Click here to check out some awesome photos of the event.


About Laura Forero

Laura Forero has been the Marketing Intern for Education at Work since August of 2015. She is currently a senior at Xavier University studying Public Relations and Advertising with a minor in Digital Media. She enjoys reading, writing, and following a good PR crisis unfold in modern day media. Connect with her on LinkedIn.