image006image005Debbie Lehr-Lee
Academic Life Coach


The Skinny Version 

  • I am passionate about helping high school and college students develop key academic and life skills (that are often not taught in school) so they can be successful in academics and also be prepared for college and the real world.
  • My passion for helping students was a result of hiring 20+ new college grads each year as a program manager at Intel Corporation. I witnessed how many of the best and brightest new college grads were still missing critical life skills needed to be successful in life.
  • I am a certified Life Coach (CPC) from the world-class Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). I am also a certified Academic Life Coach from John Andrew Williams Academic Life Coaching program and am just finishing up his advanced ALC 2.0 training. I’ve also studied with Gretchen Wegner on her Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying.
  • Many moons ago, I received my MBA from UC Berkeley and two undergraduate degrees from UC Davis.
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Why UNstoppableStudents?

My business name was inspired by my kids (a daughter and two sons), who taught me what it really means to be UNstoppable in life. Most recently, our daughter Christina ran 3,128 miles from NYU to California…by herself with all of her needed belongings in a baby stroller she called Thor. She was featured on the December 2014 Runner’s World cover with the label UNSTOPPABLE…which struck me as exactly what I had hoped for my kids, as well as the other students I work with.

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The Full Journey

As a first generation college graduate of the University of California, Davis, I soaked up every minute of my college experience. I was always busy with something, whether it was making new friends, studying, serving as an RA in the dorms, chairing the dedication of our new Rec Hall, or working for the Assistant Chancellor.

All of my studying and extracurricular activities paid off big time: my senior year, I earned the title of Outstanding Woman of UC Davis, and I opted to work a couple of years before returning to grad school.

After graduating with my MBA from UC Berkley, I received a fantastic job offer at Intel. I accepted and went on to spend 20 years at that company, training, recruiting, mentoring, and managing a revolving crop of college engineering grads from top US universities. These individuals were some of the most impressive, ambitious, and successful young adults I’d ever met, and through working so closely with them I gained an intimate knowledge of the critical choices they’d made earlier in life that enabled them to fulfill their potential and lead successful lives.

I put that information to work as I made decisions for my own children’s futures, and it’s paid off. All three of my children have earned engineering degrees from top-ranked universities and are enjoying their dream careers and lives. When we’re together, our dinner conversations can last hours as my kids share and debate the latest technologies, operating systems, and stealth weaponries. A couple of hours into the conversation, my eyes are glassed over, but my heart is bursting with pride.

When my kids were in high school, I was alarmed by the fanatical frenzy around doing everything possible to get a kid into the “best” colleges. There was societal pressure for parents to be VERY involved, hire SAT tutors, employ college admission consultants, and push their kids to join any and all activities that would look good on their college apps.

My concern was that this focus didn’t necessarily prepare the students to be successful (not to mention, happy and well-adjusted) once they were in college. In general, today’s kids do not have the independence or opportunity to develop into self-sufficient young adults capable of successfully managing all aspects of their lives, including recovering from setbacks.

Having had insight about the Intel new college grads, my husband and I focused on balancing life management skills with academics and getting into college. It was hard, but we didn’t automatically jump in when they encountered life challenges. At the time, I felt judged by parents who felt that we were “out of touch” with our independent kids because we didn’t know every detail about their lives.

But after seeing how those choices we made when our children were in high school prepared them for the success (and happiness) they’re enjoying today, I wanted to share that wisdom with other parents and students.

To that end, I achieved my life coaching certification from the world-class Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) and founded Your College Gameplan shortly thereafter (since renamed UNstoppableStudents). I have since become a certified Academic Life Coach through John Andrew Williams Academic Life Coaching Institute and most recently studied with Gretchen Wegner on her Anti-Borning Approach to Powerful Studying program.

I spend my days doing what I love: helping kids to be as successful, fulfilled, and happy as possible – in school, at work, and in life.

Teenage years are very complex and stress-filled. Depending on the day, the student might struggle with keeping up with homework or dealing with the sudden isolation of drama happening at school…or both at the same time. To best help the student, it’s great to have both tangible academic tools and systems as well as more intra self-discovery life coaching exercises. This is what sets me apart from other academic coaches, admissions counselors, and tutors; I don’t just teach a student how to be successful but first delve into the roots of why they might have the roadblocks in the first place. 

I live with my husband Harry in San Jose, California but spend weekends in the Lodi wine country. I love volunteering as a UC Master Gardener. My favorite times are when our family is together doing crazy stuff, such as making craft beer, hiking Half Dome, or zip-lining across the backyard (with the occasional skydive). Life is great!