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College Counselors

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Charissa Kerr

Hello, my name is Charissa Kerr.  It is my pleasure and honor to work with the talented students here at Insight as we work together to make sure college app essays reflect students’ unique brilliance!     Before working at Insight, I was an Academic Achievement Counselor and instructor for U.C. Berkeley’s Transfer Student Center, where […]

Hello, my name is Charissa Kerr.  It is my pleasure and honor to work with the talented students here at Insight as we work together to make sure college app essays reflect students’ unique brilliance!  

 

Before working at Insight, I was an Academic Achievement Counselor and instructor for U.C. Berkeley’s Transfer Student Center, where I counseled students and taught classes on topics ranging from academic skills to personal life skills such as stress management.  

 

My own educational background is also from U.C. Berkeley, where I received my B.A. in the Interdisciplinary Studies Field (a clever way to combine three majors into one!) with a program focus on cultural ideology and the political economy of globalization.  My senior research was on the language and methods used to represent the individual entities within a globalized economy for NAFTA (USA, Canada, and Mexico’s trilateral trade agreement).  While an undergraduate, I also created and taught a class on developing critical perspectives, sponsored by the director of my department.  That class is now the basis of the non-fiction book I am currently writing to teach individuals how to develop critical thinking skills for everyday life.

 

Before entering the educational field, I spent nearly eight years in the finance industry working with investments and then the next eight years in the tech industry as a logistics analyst for Asia-Pacific.  Both of these roles furthered my passion for understanding the global connections that bind us all together.  To help promote the global nature of our world, I founded and led a Bay Area community group dedicated to bringing together local people to enjoy and explore cultural events and historical education through fun activities.

 

With a plethora of hobbies and interests that are all over the place–motorcycles, needlework, cognitive science, astronomy, a pitiful but persistent attempt at gardening, writing fiction, reading, music, (I could go on and on)–I have no such thing as spare time.  Without a doubt though, my absolute favorite thing to do is spend time with my three boys and husband.

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Emily Sena

Hi, I’m Emily Sena! I grew up in San Mateo and live there now with my husband and three high school-aged kids. I have been working in various sides of the admissions world for nearly two decades, and am excited to be back working with high schoolers again.  I am currently working through the college admissions process with […]

Hi, I’m Emily Sena! I grew up in San Mateo and live there now with my husband and three high school-aged kids. I have been working in various sides of the admissions world for nearly two decades, and am excited to be back working with high schoolers again.  I am currently working through the college admissions process with my twin boys (Class of 2019), which has given me new insight into both the parental and student perspective of this exciting time.

 

I attended Connecticut College where I received a BA in Anthropology, and then to the University of Pennsylvania, where I earned an MSEd in Higher Education Administration. I worked in Law School admissions at Penn, then transitioned to Higher Education Consulting for Coopers & Lybrand post-graduate school.

 

I began working for Achieva College Prep Centers (where I met Purvi Mody) in 1999 and worked there for many years on a full-time, and then part-time basis after having children. For most of the past 17 years, I worked part-time as an admissions reader for the Stanford Graduate School of Business. I also worked for a few years as the Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at Sea Crest School (K-8) in Half Moon Bay.  

 

My favorite aspect of college counseling is helping students discover more about than themselves than they expect. The college admissions process is so different than anything most 17-year-olds have done, and I love to see the growth that comes when students learn about themselves along the way. I believe there are many great colleges for every student and love to help students in that discovery.

 

Outside of work, I am obsessed with travel, and run a small business bringing groups of women to Southeast Asia. I spent a year traveling the world with my children when they were younger, and miss life on the road daily!  

 

I am excited to be working again with Purvi and her team, and look forward to working with new students!

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Hi, my name is Amy Brennen and I’m a proud Bay Area native. What I enjoy most about working with students is helping them to meet their academic and personal goals, encouraging them to venture outside their comfort zones and helping them to become better versions of themselves.

Hi, my name is Amy Brennen and I’m a proud Bay Area native. What I enjoy most about working with students is helping them to meet their academic and personal goals, encouraging them to venture outside their comfort zones and helping them to become better versions of themselves.

I graduated from UC Davis with a double major B.A. in Economics and International Relations and earned my Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Southern California. I have always been an educator at heart, and I spent the first three years of my career as an SAT instructor at the Princeton Review, afterwards managing the English department for two years at a private school in Japan.

I earned my master’s degree at USC where I worked on graduate policy research and helped found one of USC’s first peer-mentoring programs for international graduate students. I spent the next couple of years assisting with policy research and client services as a government and non-profit consultant in Southeast Asia and the U.S.

I returned to the U.S. and I have worked in college advising at Insight ever since. At Insight, I’ve helped to develop and lead a number of workshops, including our clinics on College Interviews, Developing a Compelling Resume and Cover-letter, and Choosing Your Major.

As a counselor, my work includes empowering students to study smarter (not harder), helping students identify opportunities that align with their academic interests, and developing a personalized admissions profile so each student truly shines during the admissions process. 

I am a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, the Association of International Educators and the National Association for College Admissions Counseling.

Outside of work, I enjoy exploring the Bay Area, being a polyglot, watching stand-up comedy and listening to podcasts.

 

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Hello, I’m Jenny Bloom! I grew up in North Texas and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2007 with a B.S. in Human Development Family Sciences. Post college, I moved to Los Angeles and worked for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, a non-profit organization at UCLA, counseling and leading college students for three years. I then continued my education at Loyola Marymount University, graduating with an M.A. in Early Childhood Education…

Hello, I’m Jenny Bloom! I grew up in North Texas and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2007 with a B.S. in Human Development Family Sciences. Post college, I moved to Los Angeles and worked for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, a non-profit organization at UCLA, counseling and leading college students for three years. I then continued my education at Loyola Marymount University, graduating with an M.A. in Early Childhood Education in 2012 with Honors and at the top of my program. 

I have been working at Insight Education since 2012. I have helped our many students with college and summer internship essays, SAT/ACT prep, and finalizing their college applications. I enjoy working with a wide range of students from all grades, Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior to help them achieve their goals. I have worked with students who have been admitted to UC Berkeley, UT Austin, UC San Diego, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, Purdue, Drexel, Cal Poly SLO, Boston University, UIUC, Penn State, UW, NYU, Northeastern, Santa Clara, LMU, University of British Columbia, Linfield, Chapman, Texas A&M, UT Dallas, American University, and many more!

My background in business and education allows me to contribute uniquely to the Insight team. Since moving to the Bay Area, I have worked as an Assistant Instructor at a community college teaching five different courses in the fields of Child Development, Family, and Nutrition. I also worked as a legal assistant at a prestigious a law firm in Santa Monica for five years prior to moving to the Bay Area. These experiences have given me a better understanding of the diverse skillsets needed in different industries and the dynamics of campus life in various geographic settings. 

In my spare time, I volunteer in the community of East Palo Alto, serving as a volunteer at a home for teen mothers. I also volunteer with families with young children at the church I attend in Palo Alto. When I am not working or volunteering, I spend time with my husband, toddler daughter and baby boy hiking in the beautiful Baylands. You can also find us cheering on our favorite teams from Texas and New York! Hook ‘em Horns!

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Hi! My name is Sarah de Sousa. I graduated from Stanford with a BA in Modern Thought and Literature in 2003 and with an MA in Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University in 2015…

Hi! My name is Sarah de Sousa. I graduated from Stanford with a BA in Modern Thought and Literature in 2003 and with an MA in Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University in 2015. I am a member of the WACAC (Western Association for College Admission Counseling). I am thrilled to be on the Insight team as a College Admissions Counselor and Business Analyst.

My interest in admissions counseling began in high school when I was nominated to be a student admissions ambassador; in that role, I hosted prospective freshman at my private high school in Monterey. As a freshman at Stanford, I volunteered in a similar role for the Admissions Department. In this position, I organized programming for admit weekend and welcomed prospective students to the campus. Through these experiences, I gained valuable insight into the admissions process. One admissions officer explained: “At Stanford, we’re not looking for well-rounded students; we are looking to build a well-rounded class of well-lopsided students.” 

Over the past five years, I have advised a wide range of students in the Bay Area, including students from Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Fremont, San Ramon, Danville and Santa Cruz. I have worked with students admitted to Columbia, Harvey Mudd, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Northwestern, Brown, Harvard, U Chicago, and EECS at UC Berkeley, among many others. In doing so, I strive to help each student’s “well-lopsided” qualities shine through in the application process. A strong application hinges upon developing authentic passions and interests both inside and outside of school. In my experience, the most successful applications not only demonstrate a student’s academic preparedness but also what other passions and qualities will flourish and find expression in the broader campus community.

I have a background in business operations and management that originated during the years I have spent managing my family’s gourmet coffee roasting operation in Santa Cruz, CA. As a coffee industry professional, I have traveled the globe from Rwanda to Nicaragua developing supply chain relationships and launching initiatives aimed at improving quality of life for coffee farming families at origin. If you watch National Geographic or PBS, you may have seen me on “Coffee: From Beans to Buzz.” 

When not working hard at my own job, I can usually be found assisting my husband with his work as a professional dancer and dance instructor. I am a competitive dancer myself, having spent 20 years studying classical ballet, ballroom and social dances such as salsa, tango, and west coast swing. I am also a published poet and co-author of several academic articles and book chapters on topics related to mindfulness, education and positive psychology. 

Selected Recent Publications: 

Mindfulness Training for Teachers. In Handbook of Mindfulness in Education. New York: Springer. Shapiro, S., Rechtschaffen, D., & de Sousa, S. (2016). 

Mindfulness and Positive Psychology. In Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology (3rd ed.).Oxford University Press.
Shapiro, S., Jazaieri, H., & de Sousa, S. (2016).

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Hello! My name is Purvi Mody and as one of the partners at Insight Education I love working with students ready to achieve their educational dreams! I have eighteen years of experience as an educational and admissions counselor…

Hello! 
My name is Purvi Mody and as one of the partners at Insight Education I love working with students ready to achieve their educational dreams! 

I have eighteen years of experience as an educational and admissions counselor. My formal experience in this field began with Achieva College Prep in 1999, but I have worked privately with students since 1998. At Achieva, I developed the Jump Start Program, designed for 9th, 10th, and 11th graders. My work with more than one thousand students during my career has allowed me the privilege of assisting many with their admission to some of the top universities in the country including Stanford, Brown, Harvard, UC Berkeley and UCLA to name but a few. My philosophy centers around helping kids identify and apply to the schools that are the best fit for them and then develop applications that emphasize their unique attributes and talents. I also enjoy working with Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors helping them with every facet of their high school journey. I have increasingly spent time advising families of middle school students on choosing the best high school for their child and helping their children develop the fundamental skills to be successful in high school. And as graduate school admissions, including law and medical, have become more complex, I have worked with applicants to develop and execute their admissions strategy. 

I graduated from UCLA with a BA (Honors) in Psychology, and minors in Education and Business. I then completed my Masters in Education at the Stanford University School of Education. My final foray into a degree program culminated in an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. I am a member of WACAC (Western Association for College Admission Counseling).

I have built my career on my passion for education and am exceedingly well versed in the college admissions process. More importantly, I love to connect with students as they embark on an increasingly stressful and complex journey. 

When I am not reviewing college admissions essays or helping students start a new club and set academic goals, I can be found spending time with my beautiful boys (future Insighters) and husband.

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Hello! My name is Zach Pava and I am heading into my fifth season as a College Admissions Counselor with Insight Education.

Hello! My name is Zach Pava and I am heading into my sixth season as a College Admissions Counselor with Insight Education. The oldest of three brothers, I grew up in Newton Ma, a suburb of Boston, and graduated from Trinity College in Hartford with a B.S. in Psychology in 2003.  It has been a wonderful experience to work with an extraordinary team of professionals at Insight, who provide a comprehensive, but personalized approach to college admissions counseling.

My previous experience as a lead teacher, private tutor, camp counselor, and behavioral coach with students of all ages has enabled me to successfully guide Insight counseling students from the more open-ended nature of freshman year to the more rigorous demands placed on upper classman. My background in psychology and managerial experience have allowed me to assess the specific needs of others. No two students are exactly alike, each bringing his or her own unique personalities, strengths, talents, and goals to the admissions process.

A creative writer throughout my life, I believe there is no place to distinguish oneself as forcefully as your personal statement. Colleges want to know who you are, not just what you’ve done. With certifications in writing and editing and a decade guiding students to develop ideas within a fixed word count, I will help to ensure that your essay is one that stands apart.

In my role as a college admissions counselor at Insight, I’ve worked with high school students applying to the UCs, CSUs, BS/MD programs, International schools, MIT, UT Austin, Washington, Arizona, and numerous Common App colleges, including the Ivy League, NESCAC, and Claremont Colleges, Stanford, Michigan, Duke, NYU, BU, Northeastern, Purdue, USC, Santa Clara, LMU, Colorado, Emory, Georgia Tech, Northwestern, and U Chicago.  I’ve led Insight’s senior clinics, and taught ACT classes, and have also worked with many college students on transfer applications during their freshman and sophomore years.

Since relocating to Newton, Ma from the Bay Area, I have continued to work with counseling clients, old and new, via Skype.  This amazing opportunity enables students the incredible flexibility to work with a remote counselor from home while still utilizing all the resources and services in our Cupertino office.  I am also thrilled to announce the opening of our brand new office in Newtonville, Ma starting fall, 2018. I look forward to the continued privilege of working with many wonderful east coast families. 

When not conducting mock interviews, helping with course selection, or brainstorming college essays, I can be found cheering on the Red Sox at Fenway, exploring new parks and playgrounds with my 4-year-old son, and spending time with my wife and 1-year-old baby girl, who joined our family in May, 2017.

I can’t wait to meet you!

 

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Chelese Struthers

Hi from Los Angeles! I am an Essay Specialist with Insight and I have been working with Insight students on applications and essays since the Fall of 2006. I graduated with Honors from UC Berkeley in 2005 with a Bachelors of the Arts in History…

Hi from Los Angeles! I am an Essay Specialist with Insight, and this is my eleventh year with the company!

I graduated (in three years) with Honors from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in History, then obtained a Masters of Fine Arts in Acting from The Actors Studio in New York City. During my years at UC Berkeley, I tutored high school students in writing and assisted them with college applications and essay composition. I also worked with junior high school students in after-school programs in Oakland as a mentor and tutor.

Prior to my acceptance to grad school, I worked as a full-time College Admissions Counselor at Insight in Cupertino, assisting students with writing college essays, applications, and SAT test prep. Once I moved to New York, I stayed on with the Insight team remotely, editing and commenting on students’ essays in my spare time. 

In Los Angeles, I have taught SAT classes, worked as a leadership camp counselor, and recently become a book editor, in addition to my work as a college counselor and academic tutor for private clients in LA. I also volunteer with the non-profit, The Young Storytellers, which teaches underserved fifth graders to express themselves through screenplay writing.

When I’m not helping kids reach their college and academic goals, I am an actress, screenwriter, and producer pursuing my own artistic ambitions.

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What Are Insight Students & Parents saying?
  • “I took an Insight SAT Boot Camp, and afterward I got 1570 on the SAT! 800 in MATH!”

  • “It was the best experience ever! Purvi is so friendly and she really knows her stuff. She helped me to edit my personal statements for UCs.”

  • “My counselor paid attention to every detail & she made me feel more relaxed & confident. The result was good, I got into UC Berkeley”

  • “Purvi’s expertise & guidance  helped our daughter get accepted to schools of her choice, one actually offered a full scholarship!”

  • “We had a wonderful experience. Purvi helped our son structure his thoughts that helped him write stellar college application essays.   ”

  • “ My daughter’s Insight counselor was extremely helpful not only in devising the overall College Plan for her but also helped in educating ”

  • “ We were extremely happy throughout the process - got much more than what we invested in Insight counseling.”

  • “For my college application process, I enrolled in Virtual Insight Counseling from Texas. I spoke with my counselor regularly and without any”

  • “From their knowledge of all the colleges and resources, professionalism and the hands on coaching, Insight Education has raised the bar for ”

  • “Were it not for them, I don't think that I would have chosen a school that matches my needs and goals. ”

  • That First Acceptance Letter is a Big Deal!

    November 7, 2018

    While it may seem too early to receive college acceptance letters, many students who applied to schools with rolling admissions have started to receive some decisions. In the past two weeks, I have gotten several emails from students notifying me tha..
  • Explaining Early Decision & Early Action

    October 26, 2018

    “Early Decision” and “Early Action” are likely terms that you have heard before when talking about the college application process.   The biggest thing to get your head around – what is the difference between the two? They have similar..
  • Get Past Essay “Brain Fog”

    October 12, 2018

    You’re deep in college essay writing, and the worst happens – you’re struck with writer’s block!   The dreaded “brain fog” can be hard to get through, especially if you’re on a tight deadline. Here are a few things you can do to he..
  • What To Do About Mistakes in College Applications

    October 2, 2018

    Question: My son submitted his college applications early, but accidentally sent three before they were ready. Some answers are wrong and some don’t present him in the best light. What do you recommend we do to fix the situation? I’m concerned th..
  • Using Demonstrated Interest in College Admissions

    September 25, 2018

    Demonstrated Interest – what is it, and how do you use it!    In short, Demonstrated interest is something colleges use to see if you are genuinely interested in enrolling in and attending their university. Consider how many colleges you ..
  • Parenting During College Admissions – Our Top Tips!

    September 18, 2018

    College admissions is a stressful time for the entire family. Seniors are anxious about starting a new chapter of their lives and leaving the comforts of home behind. Parents are equally worried about sending their children off into the world, hoping..
  • 3 Ways to Stand Out on your College Application

    September 10, 2018

    What are the most important things you should think about when writing your college applications?   It may be a little intimidating to hear, but some schools these days are spending as few as 8 minutes on each application. That’s 8 minutes to ..
  • Overcoming Writers Block

    August 30, 2018

    Q: So many of my friends have started their college essays, but I seem to have a block and don’t know where to begin. Help! A: Ah — the elusive college essay. It can cause even the most confident student to feel doubt.   The intent of the es..
  • Tips for Incoming College Freshmen

    August 10, 2018

    A new academic year is upon us. Soon-to-be college students around the country, and the world are packing, ready to embark on new adventures. And while this is an exciting time in their lives, they can certainly benefit from the advice of people who ..
  • Insight Answers Your Top College Admissions Questions!

    July 27, 2018

    This past weekend, Insight hosted two community seminars in Fremont and Cupertino respectively. During those seminars, families wrote down their top college admissions questions.    We’ve collated those questions and our team of College A..

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