College Counselors

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Amy Brennen

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 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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Jenny Bloom

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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Sarah de Sousa

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 three 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 travelled 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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Purvi Mody

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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Zach Pava

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 fifth season as a College Admissions Counselor with Insight Education. The older 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, 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 while still utilizing all the resources and services in our Cupertino office.  I am also thrilled to announce the opening of our new Boston area office in 2017, where I will have the privilege of beginning work with many wonderful east coast families.

When not conducting mock interviews, helping with course selection, or brainstorming for college essays, I can be found cheering on the Red Sox at Fenway, exploring new parks and playgrounds with my 3-year-old son, and spending time with my wife and baby girl, who just 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 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, then obtained a Masters of Fine Arts in Acting from The Actors Studio in New York City. 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. 

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. Now, in Los Angeles, I am a critical reading and writing instructor for the SAT, and tutor privately in AP U.S. History, AP English, and AP Government. I also dedicate time in the fall to do a presentation on college essays for students at the non-profit, Legacy LA, so that they have an equal opportunity to apply and get into college. When I’m not helping kids reach their college and academic goals, I am an actress and filmmaker pursuing my own artistic goals.

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What Are Insight Students & Parents saying?
  • “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. ”

  • “Insight counselors truly care about students not only during their time at Insight but further along the road. ”

  • “I am currently a student at Carnegie Mellon University and I can honestly say that without Insight Education, I would not have gotten in. My”

  • “My son went through the ACT prep class over the summer and took the ACT exam in September. He got score of 32, which is better than 28 last”

  • Q&A with Insight – Ajit Jain

    August 18, 2017

    Our Q&A with the Insight team continues this week with Ajit Jain, the Co-owner and Co-CEO of Insight Education! Celebrating our 18th Anniversary, Ajit looks back on his fondest memories.    Where did you go to college? I attended the Univer..
  • Set Goals for The New Academic Year

    August 9, 2017

    Summer is a great time to really think about the past year and to set goals for the upcoming one. While you might want to block out what happened the previous academic year, remember that we have to learn from our successes and our failures. This wil..
  • Tips for The New Senior Class

    August 3, 2017

    It is so hard to imagine that this year’s senior class has finally grown up. I have known many of my seniors since they were unsure, shy, aspiring underclassmen. Now they are the ones who are going to rule the school. Being a senior is not just a ..
  • Q&A with your Counselor – Zach Pava

    July 28, 2017

    Welcome to a new Insight Series: Q&A with your Counselors. We’re starting off with our Insight Counselor Zach Pava, who works with us out of his hometown in Boston. Get to know Zach and a little more about why he loves being a College Admission..
  • Why You Should Take the SAT in August!

    July 20, 2017

    The College Board announced early this year that they would be offering the SAT on August 26th, 2017. Prior to this year, the first opportunity students had to take the test after June was in October. Now that the College Board is offering an August ..
  • Is Working Part-Time During High School Really Possible?

    June 28, 2017

    Yes!  I started working unofficially at the age of 7, helping my aunt file papers in her small accounting practice. When I turned 14, I got my first real job, at McDonald’s — the only place that would hire anyone so young at that time. And on th..
  • Top 10 Summer Tasks for College Admissions

    June 20, 2017

    Summer is the perfect time to get a jump start on your college admissions process. There are several steps that you can take to make the admissions process as stress free as possible during the upcoming fall. Even though your friends may procrastin..
  • How Do I Find My Passion?

    June 5, 2017

    I have had the great honor of sitting on panels about college admissions. One that has stuck with me was a panel to share with students the true value of a college education and how to best prepare for it. It was an opportunity to see life not as one..
  • Summer Freedom Can Still Be Productive!

    May 25, 2017

    As final exams conclude, as you turn in your year-end projects, as you wait for AP scores and prepare for your upcoming SAT, ACT, and SAT subject tests in June, as you begin to pack for a summer trip, a new internship, or (gulp) college, please stop ..
  • The Next Phase in Life – class of 2017

    May 16, 2017

    For all you high school seniors out there, you are ready to embark on a new stage in your life. For the first time, you will be in full control of your destiny and your day-to-day life. While you may just want to jump into the college experience and ..

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