Today, we’re welcoming five new counselors to the Collegewise family. We’ll be spending a week together training in Orange County and Los Angeles before we get them launched in their respective locations to start helping families enjoy a smarter, saner college process.
College Counselor – Berkeley/Walnut Creek, California
Colleen studied classical civilizations and English at Loyola University Chicago, and has a master’s degree in English language and literature from Boston University. If you were to name any classic work of literature, Colleen has almost certainly read, analyzed, discussed, and written about it. Before joining Collegewise, Colleen worked for The Princeton Review’s Berkeley, California office where her official job was to manage the tutoring programs, present seminars on standardized testing, and work closely with counselors at area high schools. Her unofficial job, however, was to serve as the office social chair, arranging such after-work gatherings as “Mac and Cheese Extravaganza” and “Sister Act Night,” both of which were far better attended than were “Come as Your Favorite Eighteenth Century Literary Giant” and “English Poet Murder Mystery Party.” (It’s not easy for someone with multiple degrees in literature to find co-workers with common interests).
Colleen describes herself as a “non-fanatical vegan,” meaning that while she eats a plant-based-diet, she will neither judge nor lecture anyone who chooses to subsist on steak and eggs alone. She will, however, express great reluctance to any invitation to dine at Applebee’s (it’s a long story). When she’s not eating her veggies, Colleen enjoys reading, cooking, and writing her blog about authentic—but non-fanatical—vegan living.
College Counselor – Mission Viejo, California
Genipher graduated from RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) where she attended on a partial scholarship and studied management information systems for engineering applications. The scholarship was hardly a surprise given her unprecedented performance at the local, regional and state of Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science competitions where she not only swept the first place medals, but also bested her academic nemesis, Wendy L., who’d spent the last two semesters relentlessly touting her stupid chicken experiment. Never let it be said that scientists lack fierce competitive instincts.
After spending over a decade working for two engineering giants, Genipher decided her true passion was helping students be successful in school. Since that time she has worked closely with high schools in Southern California to provide students and teachers with the tools and programs they need to be successful in the classroom. In 2013, she received the Honorary Service Award from the PTA at her local school for ten years of continuous outstanding service to youth and children. A fanatical fan of NFL football who sets aside entire Sundays for game viewing during the season, Genipher admits that she has absolutely no hand eye coordination and cannot recall ever successfully catching anything that was thrown at her. This explains why Genipher’s husband and kids delight in yelling, “Heads up!” and watching Mom dive for cover.
College Counselor – Pasadena, California
To parents concerned that your student will never be employable with an art history degree, meet Liz Marx. After graduating from Wesleyan University—with an art history degree—Liz became one of the top casting directors in Hollywood. She spent over twenty years not only placing actors in everything from Broadway musicals to film and television projects for studios the likes of Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox, but also validating the potential career worth for liberal arts majors everywhere. Casting, however, was only Liz’s first career. After taking some time off to become a mom, Liz wanted a career change and earned her college counseling certification from UCLA, eventually building a successful independent counseling business before bringing her skills to Collegewise in April 2014.
Liz was a cheerleader in high school and swears she can still do the splits if (literally) pushed. What she will not do, however, is name drop celebrities. Believe us, we’ve tried—and pushed—to get her to do it. No dice. When she’s not reading everything from great literature to Entertainment Weekly, Liz enjoys hiking, biking and exploring Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.
College Counselor – West Los Angeles, California
Chris’s career in education began within days of earning a degree in biological sciences from USC when he began what would become a four-year stint as a senior assistant director of admission and scholarship coordinator for his alma mater. He later went on to become the associate director of USC’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences where he coordinated the 8-year BA/MD program before taking a break from admission work to pursue a PhD in Communications at USC, later joining Collegewise in April 2014. As you might have guessed by now, Chris drinks quite a bit of (over-priced) coffee.
While Chris does not consider himself an intellectual (he swears that the PhD program was a way to get paid to watch TV and think about it a little), the rest of us marvel at his ability to ponder transhumanism and cyborgs—that’s where a background in biology can get you—alongside media, religion, gender, horror, and biopolitics. Chris can also talk pop culture with the best of them. Want to discuss how consumption and romance intersect in The Bachelor? Chat about themes of technology and society in The Good Wife? Predict if Frankenstein’s Monster will overtake zombies as a popular horror trope? Chris is your man. When he’s not pondering mind-bending questions that leave the rest of us gasping for breath, Chris spends his free time being horrible at video games, playing beach volleyball, and reminding himself not to tweet out pictures of food.
College Counselor – Calabasas/Westlake Village, California
Nicole realized early on that she wanted to spend her life helping people. She also realized shortly thereafter that volunteering alone doesn't pay the bills, but she thankfully found her calling (and a steady paycheck) counseling students. After graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and earning her masters in counseling at St. Mary’s College of California, Nicole worked as a high school counselor in Seattle’s Lake Washington School District where she not only managed a caseload of 400 students, but also coached the cheerleading team. After additional stints advising student athletes at the University of Washington and working as a private college counselor, Nicole brought her knowledge, sense of purpose and cheerleading skills to Collegewise in April 2014.
In her spare time, odds are that you’ll find Nicole at a baseball game. This comes with the territory when your husband is a college baseball coach (who can still hit the snot out of the ball, by the way). If you’re ever at a baseball game and Nicole happens to be in attendance, you’ll know it—she has a voice that projects louder than most stadium loudspeakers. Nicole may no longer be able to execute a proper toe-touch basket toss or running table top stunt, but she’s still got the vocal chords from her high school cheerleading days.