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Q&A with your Counselor – Amy Brennen

Welcome back to our Q&A Series! We are chatting with Amy Brennen, our resident essay expert and college admissions counselor.


Where did you go to college?

I went to college at UC Davis and studied international relations and economics, minored in Japanese, and graduated in three years


What is your favorite memory from your college days?

My favorite memory from college would be visiting Japan as an exchange student, making friends with local students, bargaining for a $20 kimono in Japanese, eating delicious yakitori and dancing in the streets during a festival!


What inspired you to become a college admissions counselor?

I was inspired to become a college admissions counselor because I remember just how much trouble I had figuring out my life as a teenager. I truly enjoy helping students to ask the right questions and discover their potential.


What is the best thing about being a college admissions counselor?

The best thing about being a college admissions counselor is making this process as easy as possible for my students and their families. High school can be a really overwhelming time and I enjoy being able to use my knowledge to guide and develop solutions for my students. I also love helping students to discover how their interests connect to majors and careers they never knew existed.


What is the most challenging thing about being a college admissions counselor?

The most challenging part is helping families to have tough conversations, whether it’s students needing to drop a class or change their college major. However, serving as neutral third-party that can help everyone understand the situation in a new light can also be one of the most rewarding part of the job.


What is your favorite memory from your time with Insight? 

My favorite memory of my time at Insight has been helping students who’ve been through difficulties write powerful college essays. I love seeing my students discover how much they’ve truly grown and finally see the strength and resilience they’ve gained from their challenges.


Looking to the next 5 years at Insight, what are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to seeing my sophomore students become seniors! I’ve already seen them grow so much in the past year taking on new activities and challenges, and I can’t wait to see the more focused, confident young adults they become.


Tell us about your favorite restaurant close to home?

My favorite restaurant is this cozy Mediterranean place with the most phenomenal dish. They serve Turkish coffee with a dessert of apricots stuffed with sweet cream with pistachios drizzled on top. I’ll order this dish, and then sit outside on their patio enjoying it and a good book.


Who is your favorite sports team?

The Warriors, even before they were good! I remember going to a game with my dad and how much fun we had cheering on Steph Curry.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my free time I enjoy traveling, painting with acrylics, creative writing and discovering weird little neighborhood cafés that nobody knows exist.


If you could pick anyone in the world to have a dinner party with, who would they be?

I would love to have a dinner party with a big spread of Mediterranean food with Bassem Youseff, The Egyptian Jon Stewart, Abby Jacobson and Alana from Broad City; they are all brilliant satirists and I’d love to be even a faction as funny and smart as they are!


If you had to pick a motto to live by, what would it be?

My motto would be similar to what I learned to Girl Scouts, ‘Anywhere you go, anyone you interact with, be sure to leave them than you found them’.


What is your favorite weather season and why?

My favorite season is Fall; the weather is cool pleasant the trees are putting on a big show and everything is pumpkin flavored, as it should be. (Pumpkin Spice is a fan favorite in the Insight office!) 


What is your favorite holiday or event to celebrate and why?

I spent a couple years living abroad in Malaysia, Singapore and Japan, and I really enjoyed getting to celebrate the different holidays there. From lighting fireworks for Chinese new year to eating sweets during Eid-ul-Fitr, I love how holidays celebrate new beginnings and help bring our communities together.


If you weren’t a college admissions counselor, what would your dream job be?

If I wasn’t doing college admissions I would be leading study abroad excursions with high school students, and helping them to see our beautiful wide world in all its complexity.


Where in the world would you love to travel?

I can’t wait to travel to Ghana or Senegal, since I try to follow world news and have gotten really into African music lately.


Any parting words of wisdom or advice to students?

I would advise students to question everything! It seems like a silly piece of advice, but from why they want to attend the school to why they want to study chemistry to why they snapped their best friend the other day, developing the mindfulness to understand why and what we could do differently yields amazing new realizations. 


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What Are Insight Students & Parents saying?
  • Our ACT instructor methods were so helpful and wonderful to have.

  • 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!

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