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College Counselors

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 graduated from my undergraduate degree at UCLA and completed an MBA and Masters program at Stanford. I have over 18 years of college advising experience...

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 over 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 sixth season as a College Admissions Counselor with Insight Education. I grew up in Newton Ma, a suburb of Boston, and graduated from Trinity College in Hartford with a B.S. in Psychology. I am the lead counselor at Insight Education Newton!

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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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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Emily Sena

Hi, I'm Emily Sena! 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...

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 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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Jason Katz

Hi!  My name is Jason Katz and I’m a proud Bay Area native—born in Berkeley and grew up in Palo Alto.  I love working with students, especially on their college application essays.  By carefully crafting their college application essays, students become more introspective and learn a lot about themselves. I studied at NYU and Santa Clara University...

Hi! My name is Jason Katz and I’m a proud Bay Area native—born in Berkeley and grew up in Palo Alto. I love working with students, especially on their college application essays.  By carefully crafting their college application essays, students become more introspective and learn a lot about themselves. Nothing makes me happier than to see their smiling faces when their essays are in final draft form, and they know they have done their best work.

 

After graduating from Palo Alto High School, I headed off to NYU.  However, after two years at NYU in New York City, and a summer and a semester at NYU’s amazing campus in Florence, Italy, I was tired of the New York winters and homesick. So, I transferred to Santa Clara University where I earned my B.A.

 

Having agonized through my original college application process as a high school student, without the help of an independent college counselor, but then working with an independent college counselor throughout the transfer application process, I know firsthand what a difference working with a college counselor can make. My transfer application process was significantly more organized, efficient, and less stressful.

 

Therefore, after graduating from Santa Clara, I knew I wanted to pay it forward and become an independent college counselor. I began interning with the independent college counselor that helped me with the transfer application process, and I also enrolled in UCLA Extension’s Certificate Program in College Counseling.  After completing my Certificate and my internship, I started my own independent college counseling business in Redwood City. Throughout the years I ran this business I also wrote more than 165 college admissions / college life newspaper columns for The Palo Alto Daily News (many of which were also published in the online edition of The San Jose Mercury News).

 

Next, I went back to school and earned my master’s degree from the University of San Francisco. After earning my master’s, had a few different jobs, but nothing that I was as passionate about as helping students, which is why I am so excited to be back in the college admissions field, working for Insight Education, specifically helping students with their application essays. I look forward to meeting you to work on the writing process!

 

When I am not writing or helping students with their college application essays, you can find me hanging out with family and friends, traveling, exercising, rooting on all the Bay Area sports teams, or taking long walks with my wife, Cathie, and our rescue dog, Posey (named after the San Francisco Giants’ catcher).

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Chelese Belmont

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 […]

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?
  • “Zach, thank you so much for helping me become a confident and successful writer”

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

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

  • “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.”

  • “Sarah was a great mentor & worked with our kid in keeping him motivated & focused along the way. She is extremely knowledgeable ”

  • “I wanted to thank Purvi from the bottom of my heart for guiding both of my kids through the maze of high school education.”

  • “Our counselor really helped in educating us – the parents – on the process.”

  • “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.”

  • Should You Be Taking BOTH the SAT and the ACT?

    June 18, 2019

    Today we’re going to be answering one of the most common questions we hear as counselors: “Do I need to take both the SAT and the ACT?”     The answer to this question is “NO!”  You absolutely do not need to take ..
  • An Insight to Northeastern University

    June 9, 2019

    Northeastern University provides a unique balance of campus and city life that I’ve rarely seen equaled. Not only does the university offer an exceptional academic experience and incredible employment opportunities, but it’s also walking distance..
  • Reasons Why Summer Study Can Be A Great Thing

    June 3, 2019

    I know most of you are probably looking forward to those days off just lounging around and relaxing all summer long, so someone like me who is telling you to study and prep for a test is a real party pooper.   However, there are some big advanta..
  • An Insight to The University of Massachusetts Amherst

    May 29, 2019

    Recently I had the good fortune to visit UMass Amherst for a campus tour. The public research university, located in Western Massachusetts, is the commonwealth’s flagship campus.  UMass has approximately 22,700 undergraduate students and another 6..
  • Summer Plans for High School Graduates

    May 24, 2019

    To the Class of 2019. This is it! You are finally graduating high school and getting ready for that next step of your life, whatever that may be.   You have made it through high school, hopefully unscathed and excited for the future. For those o..
  • An Insight to Saint Mary’s College

    May 16, 2019

    I was lucky enough to be able to recently tour Saint Mary’s College, a welcoming gem of a school tucked away just an hour and a half from the South Bay area.    Saint Mary’s College has been in Moraga for over 100 years, yet few have h..
  • Help! I Got A D – Can I Still Go To A UC?

    May 11, 2019

    We have been asked the question “If I get a D grade in Freshman year, does that mean I can’t go to a UC?”    Here’s the good news: YOU CAN STILL GO TO A UC!! So exhale, take your hand off the panic button and let that sink i..
  • Studying In A Group Is Scientifically Awesome

    May 6, 2019

      Fact: Studying in a group can be much more effective than studying alone!        I’m not just saying this because of what I’ve observed as a teacher and counselor, but this is actually what years of scientific research are showing. Stu..
  • Happy College Signing Day, Insight Class of 2019!

    May 1, 2019

    Today, May 1st, 2019, we celebrate our amazing Class of 2019!    It has been our privilege as a team to work with the students and families that entrusted us during this process. We are so proud of all the hard work and dedication shown by our ..
  • World Book Day: Team Insight’s Favorite Reads!

    April 22, 2019

    Team Insight is excited to be celebrating World Book Day this April 23, 2019!  Below is a selection of our favorite books to read and recommend.    Sarah’s Pick: “Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists” I don..

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