The FLEX Team

Meet the Team

Nathaly Basto Camargo

Master Consultant

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Nathaly has 10 combined years of college counseling and teaching experience around the world.

In high school, Nathaly provided admissions counseling to low-income students around Orange County. At Yale, she was involved in education management and pedagogy at the Yale School of Management and performed research at the Yale School of Medicine. She also taught and counseled students in an alternative education center and taught English abroad in Israel and China. After graduation, she worked as a college counselor and test prep tutor in Mexico City.

Nathaly’s personalized counseling approach varies from student to student. She knows firsthand what it takes to apply and become admitted to the most selective schools in the country, and she understands the challenges many underrepresented and international students face in the admissions process. As such, she is a patient, creative, and compassionate counselor, but also an active and strategic counselor who challenges her students. Nathaly’s college placements include UC Berkeley, USC, University College London (UK), and King’s College (UK).

Born in Colombia and raised in Southern California, Nathaly is fluent in Spanish and has lived in Italy, Israel, China, and Mexico. Outside of work, she enjoys running, yoga, reading, writing, and going hiking with her dog.

Areas of Specialization

  • Students seeking admissions to highly-selective colleges and universities
  • Students seeking admissions specifically to Yale
  • International students
  • Students who need help choosing a major
  • Students needing motivation, guidance, and who are navigating personal challenges
  • Students who are driven to give back to their communities
  • Underrepresented and first generation students

Languages

  • English, Spanish, and Hebrew

Education

  • Yale University – BS in Cognitive Science; Education Studies Scholar

Karina Eileraas Karakus

Master Consultant

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Karina is a professor of Gender Studies at UCLA, an alumni interviewer for Wesleyan, and an education consultant with several global foundations and start-ups. She has taught courses, advised students, and supervised research projects at USC, UC Berkeley, Pomona, Carleton, and Wheaton College. She has also delivered conference papers around the world and has several scholarly publications.

With 15 years of experience at top colleges and universities, Karina has deep, insider knowledge of what colleges are looking for in their students. As an admissions consultant, she takes a sincere, holistic, and inspirational approach. She encourages students to push beyond their comfort zones in order to grow and reach their highest potential as critical thinkers and leaders. She also takes an honest inventory of their talents and ambitions to help them find a “best-fit” college environment in which they will genuinely thrive.

In her free time, Karina loves to travel (especially to Paris and Istanbul!), write, hike, meditate, and pursue her passion for art, literature, music, film, fashion, food/chocolate, cappuccino, and all things French.

Areas of Specialization

  • Students seeking admission to top-tier liberal arts and women’s colleges
  • Students seeking admission specifically to Wesleyan, Northwestern, UChicago, Pomona, Scripps, USC, UCLA, and UC Berkeley
  • Students with a strong interest in the humanities, social sciences, and entrepreneurship
  • International and first-generation students
  • Students navigating adversity and unique circumstances
  • Students who are driven to pursue social justice and community work
  • Research mentorship
  • Crafting unique, creative, and compelling personal narratives in college essays
  • Graduate school advising and applications

Language(s)

  • English and French

Education

  • UCLA – PhD in Women’s Studies, emphasis in French, Middle East, and North African Studies
  • Northwestern University – MA and PhD coursework in French and Francophone Studies
  • Wesleyan University – BA in Women’s Studies, International Relations, and French (High Honors)

Ariana Kim

Associate Consultant

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Ariana has been working in college admissions since 2017, at both the USC Undergraduate Office of Admissions and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Graduate Office. She is therefore familiar with what goes on behind the scenes. Ariana has firsthand experience with college admissions and advisement, career counseling, essay review, and interview prep.

Ariana has also mentored high school students for competitive science fairs for five years, helping them win at international science competitions. In high school, she herself competed three times at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (now known as Regeneron ISEF). And she participated in competitive research competitions such as JSHS, SJWP, and the Google Science Fair. Ariana placed internationally in her science competitions, including a 2nd place Grand Award at ISEF and awards from NASA and MIT.

While at USC, Ariana interned for NBCUniversal, City National Bank, and Samsung Semiconductor. She therefore understands high-level business environments and recruitment. Born in Seoul and raised in Honolulu, Ariana also understands the cultural nuances of being Korean American as they pertain to college admissions and career counseling.

During her free time, Ariana likes to practice yoga, bake, and hike.

Areas of Specialization

  • Students seeking admissions to highly-selective colleges and universities
  • Students seeking science fair competition mentorship (ISEF)
  • Developing creative and effective college essays, especially with students who are not strong writers
  • Underrepresented students
  • Career assessment and planning
  • Resume review and interview prep
  • Students who are in need of more hands-on support

Language(s)

  • English and Korean

Education

  • Harvard University – ALM in Psychology (in progress)
  • University of Southern California – BA in Communication, minor in Cognitive Science and Philosophy

Dan Kwon

Principal Consultant

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Dan has over 7 years of experience working with students interested in a wide range of schools. A Bay Area native, Dan graduated from Mission San Jose High School. While at the Santa Clara University School of Law, Dan was a Judicial Extern for a United States District Judge. Prior to joining FLEX, he worked at a speciality scientific instrumentation technology company.

During his collegiate years, Dan played volleyball for both UC Berkeley and SCU earning a League Championship and 2nd Team All-American Honors. He later he went on to coach at Mission San Jose High School and Archbishop Mitty High School, earning league, section and state championships. Dan also co-founded and directed a successful junior club volleyball program that earned multiple JO bids.

Dan’s students have been placed at top-caliber universities, including all of the Top 20 private schools.

Areas of Specialization

  • Students seeking admission to highly-selective schools
  • Students seeking admission specifically to the Ivy League
  • High-level students
  • Athletes

Language(s)

  •  English

Education

  • UC Berkeley – BA in English
  • Santa Clara University School of Law – JD

Judy Liang

Master Consultant

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Judy has over 18 years of experience as an educator, working with students spanning preschool to high school graduates. A native of the San Gabriel Valley, she graduated at the top of her class from La Canada High School and went on to earn her BA in Social Studies. magna cum laude, from Harvard. There, she was awarded the Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Travelling Fellowship to teach English at a private boarding elementary school and magnet high school located on the outskirts of Beijing.

Judy’s experience with her own three daughters, combined with her elementary and high school teaching experience, as well as her counseling experience at FLEX, allows her to observe the educational spectrum from birth to high school graduation. She strives to help families and students make informed choices and attend a university that best fits their talents and personality.

Judy’s college placements include but are not limited to Stanford, Columbia, MIT, Princeton, UChicago, Northwestern, UC Berkeley, USC, UCLA, and NYU.

During her “free time,” Judy is busy taking care of her three elementary-aged daughters. When she has time to herself, she loves to exercise, eat out with her husband or friends, and serve the special-needs adults at the church she attends.

Areas of Specialization

  • Students seeking admission to highly-selective schools
  • International students
  • Transfer students
  • Connecting students with local groups and businesses
  • Crafting effective college application essays

Language(s)

  • English
  • Mandarin (basic conversation)
  • Taiwanese (basic conversation)
  • Spanish (conversational)

Education

  • Harvard University – BA in Social Studies, magna cum laude
  • Cal State LA – Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, K-8
  • UCLA – M.Ed in Educational Administration, Preliminary Clear Administrative Credential

Paul Lin

Master Consultant

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Paul has 22 combined years of teaching and counseling experience, 12 in a university setting and 10 in the college prep and educational consulting industry. He is a former professor in American Cultures and Asian Pacific American Studies at Loyola Marymount University, and has also taught courses and advised students at UC Irvine. He has also delivered numerous conference papers around the country and has published a scholarly article on James Joyce and Irish colonial subjectivity.

Given his extensive experience, Paul has a deep understanding of what colleges are looking for in a student. As an admissions consultant, he takes a direct, honest, and strategic approach with his students. His objective is always to guide students toward the college that’s right for them – rather than just the highest-ranking one – because he believes doing so will better set them up for future success.

Paul’s college placements include but are not limited to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, UPenn, Cornell, Duke, Northwestern, UC Berkeley, USC, UCLA, and Carnegie Mellon.

During his free time, Paul likes to travel, eat good food, and learn about wine.

Areas of Specialization

  • Students seeking admission to highly-selective schools
  • Students seeking admission specifically to Cornell, UC Berkeley, UCLA, USC, or UC Irvine
  • Underrepresented students
  • Transfer students
  • Students who have experienced personal challenges in their lives
  • Crafting effective college application essays

Language(s)

  • English

Education

  • Cornell University – School of Criticism and Theory, with distinction
  • UC Irvine – PhD in English (ABD), emphasis in Critical Theory
  • UC Irvine – MA in English
  • University of Southern California – BA in English (Honors), cum laude, minor in Art History
  • University of Kent at Canterbury, UK – University Diploma, with merit, in English and American Literature

Tiffany Lu

Principal Consultant

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Tiffany has been with FLEX since 2007, where she started as a science and math instructor. Her previous work experiences include positions in land development, children’s ministry, and oncology research.

While Tiffany has guided hundreds of students to top-caliber schools during her tenure at FLEX, she most enjoys finding the best fit school environments for each individual student. She encourages students to focus not only on application strategy and outcomes, but also on personal growth through the application process and on long-term goals beyond the undergraduate years.

An avid reader, Tiffany is always up for a good hike and enjoys noodles of all shapes and sizes.

Areas of Specialization

  • Students seeking admission to highly-selective schools
  • Students interested in STEM subjects
  • International school students
  • Scholar athletes
  • Digital humanities
  • Motivational challenges
  • Building personal narratives

Language(s)

  • English

Education

  • Stanford University – BS in Biology, minor in Economics
  • Westminster Seminary – MDiv in Counseling and History

Meagon Mason

Associate Consultant

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Meagan has been working with students K-12 and in college for 5 years. During her time at Saint Mary’s College of California, she directed an outdoor summer camp leadership program for 250 students in the East Bay. After transferring to UC Davis, Meagan advised and mentored first-generation and underrepresented students through their college applications and essays. She also held a research position in the UC Davis Economics Department, worked with the Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs, volunteered at Student Recruitment and Retention Center, and worked as a project management intern in Sacramento.

As a transfer student, Meagan has first-hand experience at both private and public college institutions, so she has a strong understanding of how important fit — size, location, culture, and major — is when making that all-important college decision. As an admissions consultant, she takes a compassionate and collaborative approach, fostering the unique growth and development of each student she works with.

During her free time, Meagan enjoys running outdoors, hiking, trying new cooking recipes, and traveling with loved ones.

Areas of Specialization

  • Students seeking admission specifically to the University of California
  • Students seeking admission specifically to Small Private Schools
  • Finding a “College Fit” and matching students to their dream school
  • Students interested in Business or Social Sciences
  • Transfer Students
  • Underrepresented and first-generation students
  • Crafting unique and compelling college essays

Language(s)

  • English

Education

  • University of California, Davis – BA in Communications Studies

Justin Obcena

Associate Consultant

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With over 10 years of teaching experience in higher education, Justin knows what it takes for students to succeed and thrive. After receiving his BA from UCSB, Justin went on to earn his MA in Sociology from UC Santa Cruz. Justin has also enjoyed his time at the University of Cambridge and Columbia University. Privileged to travel to over 25 countries, Justin brings a unique global lens to the work that he does: seeing problems from multiple angles and finding new solutions and insights.

Justin’s mentoring experience includes roles in student affairs, research assistantships, university teaching, as well as serving as a resident advisor, where he helped freshmen navigate the crucial transition to college life. At FLEX, Justin has worked as an essay specialist in addition to his position as an admissions consultant. Justin’s mentoring style is one of tough love and high expectations. He calibrates his feedback accordingly while still pushing each student to be the best versions of themselves. Justin’s students can expect honest, prompt, and detailed appraisals that will push them past their comfort zone so that their college applications can shine.

Justin’s students have been accepted into schools such as: CalTech, UCs, Dartmouth, MIT, Columbia, USC, John Hopkins, NYU, Swarthmore, and Washington University in St. Louis.

When he isn’t mentoring students, you will likely find Justin engrossed in books, savoring delicious food, watching an NBA game (go Warriors!), or jamming out to show tunes.

Areas of Specialization

  • Students seeking admission into highly selective, research-oriented universities and programs
  • Students seeking to build a strong research profile
  • Students specifically targeting UCs
  • Crafting exceptional scholarship and admissions essays
  • Social sciences/humanities students, especially those interested in sociology
  • Students managing and navigating adversity
  • First-generation college students
  • Students who are driven to do social justice/activist/community work

Education

  • B.A. Sociology – UC Santa Barbara
  • M.A. Sociology – UC Santa Cruz
  • Ph.D. Coursework & Research – UC Santa Cruz

Ben Robbins

Principal Consultant

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Ben has been in college admission consulting since 2015, but his interest in the nexus between high school and college started during his time at Yale. His published senior thesis explored the local cultural factors that affect the college application behaviors of rural high-achieving students in Nebraska, his home state. In addition to his work as an admission consultant, since joining FLEX he has served as a College Essay Specialist, ACT/SAT Curriculum Developer, and all-around verbal instructor. He is currently the Director of Admissions Consulting, managing both the NorCal and SoCal Consulting teams.

Between his time as an undergraduate at Yale and his years of consulting experience, Ben knows what sets apart the most competitive applicants for elite colleges, among others. With his background in teaching and creative mindset, he helps students to understand how they can explore different interests deeply. Ben is very intuitive and puts even shy or nervous students at ease.

Ben’s college placements include but are not limited to Stanford, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Rice, Pomona, Brown, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, NYU, UCLA, and UC Berkeley, as well as selective Aviation and Art programs.

Ben enjoys keeping up with family and friends around the globe (London to Singapore!), singing in a men’s chorus, and understanding the stories all around him.

Areas of Specialization

  • Students seeking admission to highly-selective schools
  • Students seeking admission specifically to Yale, Cornell, Brown, NYU, UC Berkeley, or UCLA
  • Humanities and Social Science students
  • Transfer students
  • Students needing guidance with high-level writing in college application essays

Language(s)

  • English

Education

  • Yale University – BA in Sociology (Intensive)

Bernadette Saldana

Associate Consultant

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Bernadette has been working with high school and university students for 10 years. She holds a multiple subject teaching credential and has taught English in countries such as China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. Since 2010, she has worked with students in Southern California as a piano and violin instructor. Prior to joining FLEX, Bernadette counseled international high school students on navigating the college application process in the US.

Growing up in Southern California, Bernadette understands the difficulties and challenges coming from a high school in California. As an admissions consultant, she takes an honest, holistic, and nurturing approach. She works collaboratively with parents and students to help students get into their dream school and to find the best fit for them.

During her free time, Bernadette enjoys listening to music, playing the piano and violin, and watching movies.

Areas of Specialization

  • Students seeking admission specifically to the University of California
  • Students who have experienced personal challenges in their lives
  • International students
  • Crafting effective college application essays

Language(s)

  • English

Education

  • University of California, Irvine – MA in Teaching
  • University of California, Irvine – BS in Biological Sciences

Sunny Song

Master Consultant

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Sunny has been with FLEX since 2013. Prior to that, she served as an admissions counselor at Shepherd University and also worked for a non-profit organization developing English language teaching materials for underprivileged children around the world. While completing her master’s program at Biola University, Sunny spent two years in China as an English language teacher and counselor for less fortunate high school students.

As a counselor at FLEX, Sunny’s goal is to help students find the right college by navigating them through high school and the college application process. In doing so, she strives to be a nurturing mentor who encourages students to grow in all aspects of their lives. Sunny believes that the high school years are an important time for students, not only to prepare for college academically but also to grow holistically so they can become more independent and responsible and eventually be prepared to leave their parents’ nests.

Sunny has assisted students interested in Health, Business, Journalism, Engineering, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Arts, Education, and more. Her college placements include but are not limited to Princeton, Duke, Carnegie Mellon, USC, University of Michigan, University of Texas-Austin, and all the UCs.

In her free time, Sunny enjoys doing simple sewing projects, spending time with family and friends, and hiking at Big Basin Redwoods Park.

Areas of Specialization

  • Students seeking admission into health-related majors (medicine, nursing, pharmacy, sports medicine/kinesiology)
  • Underrepresented students
  • International students
  • Students who have experienced personal challenges in their lives

Language(s)

  • English and Korean

Education

  • UC Berkeley – BA in Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Biola University – MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Anjali Vaswani

Master Consultant

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Anjali is a former Bruin Ambassador and worked on staff in the UCLA Office of Undergraduate Admissions for three years. As a Bruin Ambassador, she gave presentations on UC Admissions, represented UCLA at college fairs, and assisted prospective students in the application process. Anjali was tasked with developing personal relationships with individual high schools to recruit students for and provide information on UCLA. Anjali also served as an Arts Ambassador for the UCLA School of Arts and Architecture, Office of the Dean.

Additionally, Anjali previously worked as a College Advisor at an online learning center for underprivileged high school students. She helped dozens of students navigate the admissions process by researching colleges, editing personal statements, and managing timelines.

Anjali has over 8,000 hours of dance education, created and designed lesson plans in art, and choreographed a repertoire of dance pieces. She is inspired to work with children and make a difference through education and art.

Education
B.A. Dance, Minor in Visual and Performing Arts — UCLA

Jay Zhang

Master Consultant

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Jay has extensive experience working with a wide range of students including international students and transfer students with college admissions, as well as younger students with private middle and high school admissions. He is a certified Strong Interest Inventory counselor who can help students explore their academics interests and determine a suitable major for college admission.

Jay has been with FLEX since 2012. In this time, he has worked with hundreds of students throughout Northern and Southern California and internationally to help them get into their dreams schools. Jay has supported students to gain admittance to colleges including Columbia University, Brown University, Northwestern University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Michigan, NYU, USC, Boston College, and all UC campuses.

Education
B.S. Microbiology – UCLA
M.S. Global Medicine – USC