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FLEX Los Altos

The guidance you’ve been looking for to unlock your middle or high school student's potential.

At This Location

We unlock the potential in Los Altos-area students with effective instruction and an innovative admission consulting model.

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Upcoming Events

Get expert advice on hot education topics from our Los Altos team. Attend a free event at our center or online!

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Classes

We offer a variety of classes for middle and high school students both regionally and online. 

Why choose FLEX?

Build a profile that stands out.

Since 2001, FLEX has helped tens-of-thousands of students thrive and maximize their impact on the people and communities around them.

100%

100% of FLEX’s Class of 2022 students were admitted to one or more of their target schools.

46%

In 2022, the acceptance rate for FLEX students to Top 25 colleges and universities was 46%.

539%

The national average acceptance rate to Top 25 schools was 7.2%.* FLEX students outperformed the rest by a factor greater than 5X.

*U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges Rankings with 81% of colleges reporting

FLEX has been chosen by prestigious institutions all around the world for their college prep needs.

Past and present partners include:

Visit FLEX Los Altos

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Education
  • University of California, Riverside – PhD in Sociology
  • University of California, Los Angeles – BA in Gender Studies
Areas of Specialization
  • Students looking to gain admission to top-25 colleges and universities
  • First-generation college students and transfer students
  • Students interested in graduate school and/or research
  • Students who are passionate about social justice work
  • Crafting extracurricular profiles to assist students to stand out
  • Merit-based scholarships and awards, including prestigious national titles
  • Students who’ve had to overcoming adversity, including learning disabilities

April Cubbage

Master Admissions Consultant

Dr. April Cubbage has sat on the graduate admissions committee for UC Riverside and evaluates scholarship applications for UCLA. She earned her BA degree from UCLA, where she was named a UC Regent Scholar. She is a nationally-decorated speech and debate champion and has won over $150,000 in merit-based scholarships. She was also named to the All-USA Academic Team and won the prestigious Harry S. Truman Award.

When she is not counseling students at FLEX, April also works as a professor of Sociology. She earned her MA and PhD from UC Riverside and has spent the last 15 years in the higher education ecosystem.

April has advised and assisted dozens of students in applying for college and getting them into their dream schools, such as Stanford, NYU, USC, UC Berkeley, UCLA and UCI. She is passionate about guiding students to reach their greatest success and has extensive experience doing so. She frequently mentors students on research projects that are accepted and presented at local and national conferences.

April is excited to bring her compassion, enthusiasm, and insider knowledge to help students attain their college admissions goals. She is a great motivator and specializes in crafting profiles and guiding students into activities that tell a story of the student’s
success.

Education
  • Cornell University – BA in History of Art
  • Rutgers University – MA in History of Art
  • University of California Irvine – PhD in East Asian Studies
Languages
  • English
  • Korean
Areas of Specialization
  • Students seeking admission to top-25 colleges and universities
  • International and first-generation college students
  • Developing compelling narratives for admission applications
  • Crafting unique personal statements

Sue Asokan

Admissions Consultant

Sue has over a decade of experience in education as an admissions counselor, essay coach, tutor, high-school teacher, and university professor. She has a BA from Cornell University, where she served as an Alumni Admissions Ambassador, and a PhD from
the University of California Irvine.

As an Admissions Consultant, Sue is passionate about helping students create a polished admission application within a warm and encouraging environment. She uses her expertise to take a holistic approach tailored to each individual. By providing step-by-step guidance and organized schedules, she helps manage deadlines and reduce anxiety.

Sue encourages her students to understand that the college admission application is not just about grades, test scores, or what’s written on the resume – it is a beautiful opportunity to self-reflect and proudly exhibit their unique persona. She firmly believes that a student’s self-perceived shortcomings or “failures” are often the source of their greatest personal development story.

Sue has helped applicants gain acceptance into Cornell University, Carnegie Mellon University, New York University, the University of Michigan and others.

When Sue isn’t coaching, she likes writing about Korean film and literature, crocheting, watching documentaries, and being a couch potato with her dog, Oliver.

How to Write Effective UC Admissions Essays

Does Having Perfect Academics Get You Into The UCs?

A Special Webinar Event

Class of 2023 College Admissions Trends:

Analyzing Surprising Results

Spring 2023 Education Expo

College Admissions Today: Your Personality, Technology & Essays

Meet former Admissions Officers from Harvard and Yale at a special in-person event near you! Join an experienced panel of former admissions officers and FLEX consultants from top colleges including Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Stanford, USC, UCLA, and UC Berkeley as they discuss the importance of personality and character in the holistic review and help students, alongside their parents, develop a successful college admission strategy.

Additional Topics:

· An Analysis of Current Admission Trends for the Class of 2023

· ChatGPT Impact on College Essays

· Panel Discussion: Successful College Essay Case StudiesPlus, special promotions available for Expo attendees.

Seating is limited. Save your spot now!

Middle Schoolers:

Maximize Your Summer

Why Admissions Officers Look for Personality in Essays

UCLA & Brown Admissions Officers Share Insights

Why A+ Students Don't Get 5s On AP Exams

How AP exams have changed, how colleges use scores, and how FLEX can help

The New "Perfect Profile"

For Getting Into The UCs

ACE Preview Workshop:

College Essay Topic - Common App Personal Statement

Winning Strategies For Getting In:

UCLA and USC

Webinars for 6th - 9th Grade Students

Personality Testing: The Newest Trend in Post-Pandemic College Admission

Webinars for 6th - 9th Grade Students

Prepare for Success in High School, College & Beyond

ACE Preview Workshop

UC Insight Questions

Education
  • B.A. Biology and Asian Studies – Bowdoin College
  • M.A. Biological Sciences – CSUEB
Subjects
  • SAT Math
  • ACT Math and Science
  • AP Biology
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP Physics
  • AP Calculus

Akimitsu Makino

Master Instructor

Aki graduated from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in Biology and Asian Studies.  Upon graduation, he gained experience in ophthalmic clinical research, where he was fortunate to co-author publications and co-invent a patent.  While working in the clinic, Aki pursued a master’s degree in the biological sciences at CSU East Bay, where he completed a biotechnology certificate and was one of the few students to be granted a visiting scholar position at UCSF as part of his master’s research for one year.

Aki’s passion for helping students overcome challenges in math and science is demonstrated in his extensive tutoring experience.  From supplementing a student’s school curriculum to designing a customized course; for nearly a decade, he has helped students realize their goals.  In his free time, Aki enjoys learning new subjects and topics, all of which he utilizes when teaching students.

ACE Preview Essay Workshop

Why My Major?

Extracurricular Activities & Summer Programs

The Importance of Research

Changes & Trends: 

Analyzing Early Results for the Class of 2023

Education
  • B.A. Psychology & B.A. Criminal Justice – University of Maryland
  • M.A. Legal and Forensic Psychology – UC of Irvine
Subjects
  • SAT English
  • ACT English
  • English
  • AP Psychology

Sarah Kim

Associate Instructor

Sarah Kim graduated from the University of Maryland in College Park with a B.A. in Psychology and a B.A. in Criminal Justice/Criminology. She currently studies at the University of California, Irvine pursuing a Master’s in Legal and Forensic Psychology. There, her research focuses on rapport and support building in interviews with adolescent victims of sex trafficking. She takes her research focus on rapport building to reach students individually in a gentle but focused manner. When not working or doing school work, she loves to read, dance, and spend time with her dog.

Sarah has been tutoring for 7 years with experience in K-12 general English as well as SAT/ACT Test Preparation. She specializes in the reading writing components of standardized tests. Her extensive background in tutoring has allowed her to be considerate of all students’ needs–whether that be young children learning how to read or high schoolers wanting to succeed on their SAT. Sarah believes that each student should be met where they are and strongly believes that every student can succeed.

Education
  • B.S. Economics – Arizona State University
  • M.A. Educational Leadership and Administration – UC Davis
  • Master of Education – Arizona State University
  • Ph.D. Sociocultural Studies and Educational Policy – Arizona State University
Subjects
  • English
  • Spanish
  • AP Spanish

Carmina Mendoza

Master Instructor

Dr. Carmina Mendoza is an education scholar with 25 years of experience in the public education sector. Her research and teaching have focused on Spanish instruction at different levels–elementary, secondary, and higher education.  Dr. Mendoza has decades of experience, both as a teacher and as a researcher of Spanish immersion programs in Arizona and California. 

Dr. Mendoza is also an active adjunct professor at Santa Clara University, teaching courses at the Masters of Arts in Teaching and Credential program. In this program, Dr. Mendoza has taught graduate level courses in Spanish to students who want to add a Spanish/English bilingual authorization to their teaching credential. 

Dr. Mendoza is also a published author. She is the author of the book Transnational Messages: Experiences of Chinese and Mexican Immigrants in American Schools.  She has also written chapters in edited volumes and articles in peer-reviewed academic journals, including the High School Journal and Multilingual Educator (publication of the California Association for Bilingual Education).

Education
  • B.A. Social Sciences, Emphasis Sociology – New York University
Subjects
  • ACT English and Reading
  • AP English Language and Composition
  • AP European History
  • AP Psychology
  • AP US History
  • SAT Verbal

Sara Delgado

Associate Instructor

Sara has a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences with an emphasis on sociology from New York University, and an Associates of Art in Sociology from Fullerton College. Sara’s past experiences as an educator and tutor range from Elementary to College age students. She provided peer-led supplemental instruction during her time at Fullerton College; during this supplemental instruction, she assisted students with understanding concepts and assignments in English courses taught at the school. She currently works as a long-term substitute teacher for local high schools. Sara’s main motivation to pursue a career as an educator is to support students and provide them with a fun and conducive learning experience that will set them up for future success.

Education
  •  B.A. Economics – CSU Long Beach
  • M.A. Economics – CSU Long Beach
Subjects
  • Economics

Sami Shamroukh

Associate Instructor

Sami Shamroukh received his B.A. and M.A in Economics from California State University, Long Beach. As a graduate student, Sami focused on econometric research, creating and using mathematical models to understand economic systems. His projects have centered on the connection between an individual’s financial literacy and their savings rate, as well as the impact of ethnic diversity on police spending.

Sami has experience teaching economics as a graduate assistant for undergraduate courses as well as an economics tutor, specifically for micro/macroeconomics at the entry and intermediate levels. Sami enjoys teaching students by letting them work problems out logically until the student fully understands how to dissect the problem for themselves. The most important thing for Sami is that any student he has the fortune of teaching is able to walk away feeling they have a deeper understanding of the material than they had before.

Education
  • B.S. Computer Game Science – UC Irvine
Subjects
  • AP Computer Science A
  • Computer Science: C/C++
  • Computer Science: Java
  • Computer Science: Python
  • Math, Lower Level (Alg2 and Below)
  • Pathways – STEM Coding

Theodore (Teo) Lee

Associate Instructor

Theodore (Teo) Lee graduated from the University of California-Irvine with a B.S. in Computer Game Science. He has been tutoring computer science for the last 5 years, helping those new to the field understand and develop their computer science skills. In addition to tutoring, Teo is President of the local Association for Computing Machinery. He has led many team projects developing software, and he has won numerous prizes in the many competitions he has attended.

When teaching students, Teo likes to implement practical examples and explain concepts using visual models and diagrams. In the field of Computer Science more specifically, it is especially important to understand how things work “under the hood,” so Teo strives to equip his students with multiple ways of thinking about a problem, thereby developing their own style in navigating the various technical routes toward achieving a solution.

Education
  • B.S. Business Administration in Marketing and Finance – UC Berkeley
  • M.S Education – CSU East Bay
  • Multiple Subject Teaching Credential – CSU East Bay
  • Single Subject Teaching Credential English, History Social Science, Science – CSU East Bay
Subjects
  • AP Macro and Micro
  • ACT English Reading Science
  • SAT Verbal
  • AP Gov
  • APUSH
  • AP Lit and Lang
  • AP Environmental Science

Rick Denny

Master Instructor

Rick attended San Francisco’s Lowell High, qualifying as a National Merit Finalist. After graduating from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Denny spent 15 years marketing and managing tech startups that were acquired by Amazon, Microsoft, Time Warner, and others for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Seeking to make a meaningful difference in students’ lives, Rick earned an MS in Education, and seven California teaching credentials including single subject English, history and social science, and science. Since 2007, Denny has taught and tutored diverse learners in English through AP Language and AP Literature; social science through AP Macroeconomics, AP Microeconomics, and AP US History; and science through AP Environmental Science. Rick has also mentored students in individual college-level research projects.

Since 2013, Denny has helped students excel on standardized tests, especially the SAT and ACT.  Rick particularly enjoys individual tutoring because he likes getting to know his students and their interests, customizing instruction to meet their needs, and contributing to their growth and success. His tutoring superpowers are listening, analysis, patience, and humor.

Education
  • M.A. Engineering Economic Systems and Operations Research – Stanford
  • B.A. Natural Science Area, Emphasis in Biology – Johns Hopkins
Subjects
  • ACT English and Reading
  • ACT Math & Science
  • Biology
  • College Essay
  • French
  • Math, Lower Level (Alg2 & Below)
  • SAT Math
  • SAT Verbal

Reem Habbak

Master Instructor

A Bay Area native, Reem earned her B.A. at Johns Hopkins University in Natural Science with an emphasis in Biology. She then returned to the Bay Area for a master’s at Stanford University in Engineering Economic Systems and Operation Research.

Her tutoring career officially began as a peer tutor at the Tutorial Center at Mountain View High School. In college, she volunteered to tutor inner-city children through the Johns Hopkins Tutorial Project. Her teaching continued at Stanford, where she taught graduate level Dynamic Equations.

As a tutor,  Reem is amazingly friendly and upbeat while still being systematic in her assessment of her students’ needs and progress.

Education
  • B.A. English, Philosophy – University of Hartford
  • Ph.D. English – UC Irvine
Subjects
  • AP English Language & Composition
  • AP English Literature & Composition
  • AP Psychology
  • FRMC – Humanities

Michael Mahoney

Master Instructor

Dr. Michael Mahoney holds a PhD in English from the University of California-Irvine, where he has extensive experience teaching university courses in College Writing, English, Philosophy, Film, and History. Michael is widely recognized for his ability to engage students. He has received multiple campus-wide awards in recognition of his excellence as an instructor. In addition to his teaching, Michael’s research has also been recognized for its innovative approach to interdisciplinarity. His doctoral work has received support from endowments in fields as diverse as literary criticism, medical humanities, and science and technology studies.

Michael believes strongly in a student-centered approach to teaching, one that emphasizes active engagement with core concepts in order to achieve specific learning outcomes. His goal is to equip students with the skills to think critically, meaningfully, and independently about texts, ultimately helping them gain a sense of mastery and command over their use of language. Drawing on nearly a decade of experience teaching college writing in various disciplines, Michael also aims to help students reach their full potential in developing compelling and insightful essays.

Education
  • B.S. Mathematics – Harvey Mudd College
Subjects
  • AP Calculus
  • College Math
  • SAT Math
  • Math (lower and upper level)

Elisha Dayag

Associate Instructor

Elisha Dayag is a PhD student in Mathematics at UC Irvine. He received his BS in Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College. For the past five years, he has taught and tutored a wide range of students and topics: everything from 6th graders to college students doing calculus and beyond.

As a tutor, Elisha feels that math instruction should be tailored to a student’s specific needs and help soothe any anxieties they may have regarding mathematics. He further believes that anyone can be proficient in and, more importantly, find joy in doing mathematics given enough practice and the right guidance.

Education
  • B.A. English, Minor in European Studies – UCLA
  • M.A. English – CSU Long Beach
Subjects
  • ACT English and Reading
  • AP English Language & Composition
  • AP English Literature & Composition
  • AP European History
  • AP US History
  • AP World History
  • Pathways – English & Writing
  • SAT Verbal

Chelsea Gibbons

Associate Instructor

Chelsea Gibbons holds a B.A. in English with a minor in European studies from UCLA and an M.A. in English from Cal State Long Beach, where she specialized in 18th century British literature. While pursuing her Master’s, Chelsea worked as a managing editor for the school’s academic journal and taught as a graduate assistant for numerous literature and history classes. Outside of the university setting, Chelsea has instructed high school students across the humanities, and specifically in the test prep environment: her teaching background includes AP English Language, AP English Literature, AP European History, AP US History, AP World History, college application essays, and standardized test prep (ACT, ISEE, PSAT, SAT).

Chelsea views the classroom as a democratic space. Her students are active participants in their own learning, guided as they are through thoughtful discussions and assignments. She strongly believes that the development of critical thinking and the promotion of a global perspective makes humanities classes crucial to every student’s education, no matter what their major or academic focus.

Education
  • M.S. Physics – New York University
  • M.S. Applied Mathematics – CalPoly University, Pomona
  • M.S. Physical Chemistry – CalPoly University, Pomona
  • B.S. Physics – CalPoly University, Pomona
Subjects
  • AP Calculus AB/BC
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP Physics 1
  • AP Physics 2
  • AP Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism
  • AP Physics C: Mechanics
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science: Python
  • Math, Upper Level (Trig and Up)
  • Pathways – STEM Coding

Andres Cardenas

Principal Instructor

Andrés Cárdenas is an accomplished scientist and STEM teacher. He holds multiple Master’s degrees: one in Computational Physics from NYU, another in Applied Math from CalPoly, and one in Physical Chemistry, also from CalPoly.

After working as a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Andrés spent 8 years teaching AP Physics at New York City high schools. His passion for science, in part, explains his love for teaching: his classroom enthusiasm is immediately visible,  something his students find contagious. Andrés believes that a robust STEM education starts with a student’s sense of wonder and a desire to discover; and his curriculum work reflects an emphasis on connecting concepts with theory organically—be it in mathematics, physics, chemistry, or computer science.

Education
  • B.A. Political Science – University of the Pacific
  • Ph.D. American History – Brandeis University
Subjects
  • AP English Language & Composition
  • AP European History
  • AP US Government & Politics
  • AP US History
  • AP World History
  • FRMC – Humanities

Alexandra Lough

Master Instructor

Alexandra (Alex) Lough earned her PhD in American History from Brandeis University and a B.A., with high honors, in Political Science from the University of the Pacific. She is currently pursuing a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Social Science from National University. Alex has extensive experience teaching and tutoring advanced high school and college students. She has taught Analytical Writing and Freshman Composition at the college-level and has been tutoring students in AP US, World, and European History for the past eight years. 

In addition to teaching, Alex has a background in academic editing and publishing. She serves on the Board of Directors and frequently writes for the American Journal of Economics and Sociology and is a contributing editor of the six-volume book series, The Annotated Works of Henry George (Rowman & Littlefield). Alex enjoys creating and using her own content in her work with students. In 2016, she co-founded LectureSource, Inc.—an online marketplace for advanced high school and college course materials.

How to Build Your Extracurricular Activities Profile for Stand-Out College Applications

Summer Planning - Making the Most of Your Time

School may be out and you may be in vacation mode, but summer is a great opportunity for students to gain valuable experiences outside the classroom and to enhance their extracurricular profile.

A student’s extracurricular profile has become a significant factor in college admissions, speaking volumes to a student’s intellectual curiosity, personal excellence, and character. So how do you go about building one? Should a student display a wide variety of interests or deep interest in a single field? Do colleges care about the quantity over quality of activities? How can you distinguish yourself from other applicants? This is the time to showcase to colleges your passions and accomplishments outside of the classroom.

Join FLEX as we discuss what an extracurricular activities profile is, the relevance of extracurricular and summer activities, and how to build them seamlessly into a robust and cohesive application profile! 

Pre-Med and BS/MD Programs -
What It Takes to Get In:

Is There a Doctor in the House?

What Sophomores & Juniors Should Be Doing Right Now to Prepare for College

Senior year may seem like it’s far away, but if you start your college application planning now, you will reduce stress and reap the rewards of a seamless and quality college journey.

In this webinar, we will share how a little foresight in specific areas will help you achieve your college goals. Topics covered include: 

  • Choosing Classes Strategically
    • Did you know that public schools and private schools calculate their GPA differently? Learn how to select classes that will optimize admission to your target college.  We’ll also talk about the importance of taking Honors/AP® courses, as well as college level credits in high school.
  • Building Your Extracurricular Activities
    • What you do outside of class both in school and off campus is an important part of your college application journey. We’ll provide strategies on how to not only best keep track of your extra-curricular activities now but also give you insights on which activities can enhance your college application.
  • Preparing for Standardized Tests
    • Students should actively plan and prep for standardized tests well before their senior year. We’ll share how you can best approach your PSAT®/SAT®/ACT® and what you should start doing now to maximize your success on the target test date.

Attend this free webinar to learn what Sophomores and Juniors MUST know about college applications and how you can get a winning start!

Changes & Trends:

Early Results For The Class Of 2023

Education
  • BSC. Mechanical Engineer – University of Alexandria
  • A.S. Mechanical Engineering – Diablo College
  • B.S. Mechanical Engineering – UC Berkeley
Subjects
  • AP Physics
  • Math (lower and upper level)
  • SAT Math
  • ACT Math and Science
  • AP Calculus

Maikel Masoud

Associate Instructor

Michael holds a Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley and another from Alexandria University in Egypt. And he is currently pursuing a Master’s in Robotics at the University of Maryland.

Michael is passionate about education. He believes that he can help make every student love Mathematics and Physics – even those who have had a hard time coping with the nuances and complexities of these fields. Michael has taught widely throughout the Bay Area. He has been an instructor and STEM tutor at Diablo Valley College, as well as working in that capacity with students in private schools in San Francisco and in Berkeley. Having served in the US Army as a Combat Medic Specialist, Michael is experienced in aiding individuals when they are under extreme stress and in need of a calming, motivating presence. Michael is generous and kind, and particularly enjoys connecting to different cultures and people of all backgrounds.

Education
  • PhD Sociology – University of Southern California

Alfredo Huante

College Essay Instructor

Alfredo Huante holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Southern California. He has taught several undergraduate courses, introducing students to or advancing their understanding of the social world. Alfredo has published works in academic journals and
websites and has ample editing experience. Alfredo excels at helping students translate their experiences into engaging, written essays by adjusting to each student’s specific needs.

Education
  • B.A. English – Stanford University

Cristina Herrera Mezgravis

College Essay Instructor

Cristina graduated from Stanford University with Distinction and awards both in fiction and nonfiction for exceptional work in Creative Writing. Her application essays were published in 50 Successful Stanford Application Essays and 50 Successful University of California Application Essays.

She taught English to elementary school students while studying abroad in Paris, ran a creative writing program for high school students during her senior year at Stanford, and currently volunteers as an ESL tutor with the Palo Alto Adult School. Cristina worked for two years at an Andreessen Horowitz-backed startup, prototyping a new mobile app for teachers and students, and curating unpublished books, stories, and deleted scenes by New York Times bestselling authors.

Her experience in admissions consulting began by helping friends and family highlight the passions that set them apart as individuals and select the colleges that were a right fit for them. Students she advised were admitted to Stanford University, USC, and UC Berkeley, among others.

Education
  • B.A. English – Santa Clara University
  • Masters of Library and Information Science – San Jose State University

Sara Fernandes

Assistant Director of College Essay

Sara attended UC Berkeley and transferred to Santa Clara University after deciding she wanted the opportunity to work with faculty on research. While at Santa Clara University, she helped Professor Judy Dunbar research and edit her book The Winter’s Tale: Shakespeare In Performance . Sara then went on to obtain her Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science at San Jose State University and graduated in the top 1% of her class.

She has used her undergraduate and graduate education to pursue her passion of teaching research and writing to students. Sara has over five years of experience teaching and coaching, over two of which are with FLEX College Prep. At FLEX, Sara has successfully taught classes in SAT Verbal, ACT Verbal, middle school writing and English classes, college essay, and AP English Language and Composition.

She is committed to staying current with trends in test prep and college admissions as well as setting realistic goals for each student so that he or she can achieve success.

Education
  • B.A. US History and Philosophy – UC Davis
  • M.A History – San Francisco State University

Nicholas Dawes

College Essay Instructor

Nick Dawes earned his BA in US History with a philosophy minor from the University of California, Davis, and an MA in History with a concentration in cross-cultural contact from San Francisco State University. While Nick was growing up, many in his family were teachers and school administrators across the South Bay, including Fremont Union High School District, so he is intimately familiar with the academic landscape of the Bay Area.

While in graduate school, he lectured in undergraduate courses, acted as an associate editor of an academic journal, and published his own original work. After graduation, Nick worked in standardized test prep, AP subject tutoring, and he most recently taught at a Bay Area private school for five years. He believes that students learn and work best when they have a productive relationship with their instructor.

In his essay coaching, he works to help students dig deeper into who they are as individuals and what motivates them in order to find the compelling, unique stories in each student. Nick has worked with students on their college admissions essays for the last 9 years, helping students gain admission to top UCs and other prestigious top 20 public and private institutions across the country.

Education
  • Doctoral study in Human Development and
  • Psychology – Harvard University
  • M.A. Applied Child Development – Tufts University
  • B.A. Anthropology – Boston University

Martha Crowe

Master Consultant & Instructor

Martha Crowe has worked with, for, and on behalf of youth for three decades, as a social worker, child advocate, nonprofit director, consultant, and for the past eight years, as a professor, researcher, and medical writer at SDSU. Helping people tell their stories has been at the heart of each phase of her career. Martha loves getting to know young people — to hear about what they care about, what they are good at, and what their dreams are for their futures. And magic can happen when they trust her enough to help them tell their stories in an authentic and compelling way that both honors who they are and convinces admissions counselors to accept them.

 

Martha believes in taking a personalized approach with each student, tailoring her time with them based on their individual writing skills and learning needs. Her approach is always based on genuine care and concern combined with concrete action items and deadlines. For the past four years, Martha has helped students get into a variety of colleges, as well as honors programs within those colleges, from tiny to huge, rural to urban, California to the East Coast: UC Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD, UC Davis, Northeastern, UMass Amherst, University of Michigan, Syracuse, Macalester, Santa Clara University, Pepperdine, University of San Diego, Loyola Marymount, Cal Lutheran, Cal Arts, Claremont McKenna Colleges, University of Minnesota, University of Illinois-Urbana Champagne, among others.

 

Martha grew up in Kansas City and joyfully left for Boston after high school, attending Boston University, Tufts, and Harvard for undergraduate and graduate school. She moved to SoCal in 2004 to spend time with her brother after graduation, and like so many others, forgot to leave. Most importantly, she’s a mom to three kids, who are, at the time of this writing, 18, 16, and 12, and an auntie to 58 nieces and nephews (true story) and too many great nieces and nephews to count. In her spare time, Martha volunteers with High Tech High, Miracle League, and Meals on Wheels, is an avid reader, and loves hanging out with her kids.

Education
  • B.S. Mathematics – UCSD
  • M.S. Psychology – King’s College London (In Progress)

Helena Chen

College Essay Instructor

Helena is a Masters student in Psychology with extensive experience in the education sector, where she has worked as a teacher, consultant and student advocate. She started tutoring students in high school and supported herself in college as an SAT instructor. With a mathematics background but still very much interested in pedagogy and mentorship, Helena decided to leverage her analytical mindset and ability to problem-solve by continuing to work in college admissions consulting–advising high school students and their families on the complex college admissions process. Through this work, she continued her passion for teaching others how to write and hone their narrative voice, which brought her to FLEX as a college essay instructor.

Education
  • B.A. English/Creative Writing; Minor: Music Industry and Cinematic Arts – University of Southern California

Gabriel Block

College Essay Instructor

Gabriel graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California with a BA in English/Creative Writing. He honed his writing skills through writing-intensive programs at USC and the University of Melbourne in Australia. After graduating, he spent four years in the music industry working for Sony Music Publishing, where he engaged in daily writing assignments and excelled at working with others and building trusting relationships. Gabriel has years of teaching experience; he brings a warm energy and first hand expertise in writing successful college essays. In the classroom, Gabriel values trust and joy. With a genuine interest in others, he builds trust through keen listening and clear and open communication, and asks for the same, in return. By having fun with the material and leading with positive reinforcement, he brings his best to the classroom and gets the best from his students. Most importantly, Gabriel believes in pursuing what you love. He can’t wait to learn what makes you who you are and to help you convey your authentic self to your dream school.

Education
  • M.A. Private School Leadership – Columbia University
  • M.F.A Writing – University of San Francisco
  • B.A. English, Creative Writing – University of Houston
  • B.S. Communication Studies – University of Texas

NDidi Anofienem

College Essay Instructor

NDidi is originally from Houston, TX, born and raised, and currently lives in Los Angeles, CA. She obtained her MFA in creative writing from the University of San Francisco in 2017. Prior to that, she earned a Bachelor of Science from University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Houston. She is currently a graduate student at Teachers’ College, Columbia University, pursuing a Master of Education in Private School Leadership.

Ndidi has worked with students of all ages since 2003, moving into a focus on middle and high school students in 2015. Ndidi specializes in teaching essay writing, speed reading, and reading comprehension skills. She believes in student choice and autonomy and uses evidence-based practices. In the past, she has helped dozens of high school students get into their dream schools as a summer college essay instructor, including admissions to Spelman College, Howard University, Harvard University, University of California, and University of Texas at Austin.

Northern California Info Banks September 17th

Education
  • UC Berkeley – BA in English
  • Santa Clara University School of Law – JD
Areas of Specialization
  • Students seeking admission to highly-selective schools
  • Students seeking admission specifically to the Ivy League
  • High-level students
  • Athletes

Dan Kwon

Senior VP of Admissions Consulting & Principal Consultant

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 specialty 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 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.

Education
  • University of California, San Diego – PhD in Literature
  • University of California, Berkeley – BA in English

Alexander Chang

Senior Associate Consultant

Alex has nearly a decade of experience mentoring and teaching students. During his time as a PhD student in Literature and adjunct professor at UCSD, he developed the ability to bring out the best in his college undergraduates, and for the past three years, he has focused his attention on counseling, mentoring, and tutoring students at the high school level.

In his current role as an Associate Admissions Consultant, Alex seeks to cultivate students not just academically but also holistically. He leads students toward a more contemplative life where they are able to reflect deeply on their own values, ambitions, and experiences. His goal is not merely to help students develop compelling profiles on paper that would earn them admission to an elite university, but also to help them develop into individuals who have the curiosity and passion for learning.

Alex is proud to have been part of the journey of students who have forged their way into such prestigious institutions as Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Wellesley, NYU, UC Berkeley, Georgia
Tech, and Caltech. As somewhat of an errant intellectual, Alex’s continued academic interests include varied topics such as data science and the humanities, critical theory and the neuroscience of language, and colonialism and the universalization of the nation state. When not reading or writing, he might be found enjoying a run in the park — but, realistically, you will find him reading or writing.

Education
  • Stanford University – BS in Biological Sciences
  • Westminster Seminary – MDiv in Counseling and History
Language(s)
  • English
Areas of Specialization
  • Students seeking best fit school environments
  • Students interested in interdisciplinary fields
  • Scholar athletes & scholar musicians
  • Building personal narratives

Tiffany Lu

Chief Director of ACE & Senior Principal Consultant

Tiffany has over a decade of experience at FLEX as a science and math instructor and academic counselor. She has previous work experience in the fields of land development, children’s ministry, and oncology research.

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

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

Education
  • UC Irvine – MA in Art History
  • UC Irvine – BA in Art History with a minor in English
Language(s)
  • English (native proficiency)
  • Korean (conversational)

Jaimie Joo

Associate Consultant & College Essay Instructor

Since her days as an undergraduate, Jaimie has had an insider’s perspective of the college admissions process at the University of California system. She has worked as a Campus Representative in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and as an Academic Advisor in the School of Humanities at UC Irvine, where she gained invaluable insight into the admissions and counseling process. Because of these experiences, Jaimie understands the importance of fit when selecting and applying to colleges. Additionally, she has been able to work with a diverse group of students, including international students and first-generation students.

With all of her students, Jaimie strives to help them gain entrance to a college or university that will not only set them up for career success, but will also help them find joy in learning. She hopes she can help her students feel empowered in their own skills and abilities.

Jaimie is also a FLEX College Essay Specialist, which allows her to bring out her students’ most authentic and compelling selves. She has a proven track record in producing high-quality storytelling with her students and finds that writing is a necessary strength for any major.

In terms of admissions, Jaimie has worked with students who have been granted admission to John Hopkins, UC San Diego, and UC Irvine.

During her free time, Jaimie volunteers for an Asian American art collective. She enjoys reading, writing, and talking about pop culture.

Education
  • University of California, Irvine – MA in Education
  • University of California, Irvine – BS in Biological Sciences
Areas of Specialization
  • Students interested in STEM, Business or the Social Sciences
  • Students seeking admission specifically to the University of California
  • Students seeking admission specifically to selective private schools
  • Students with international educational experiences.
  • Finding the right “college fit” and matching students to their dream school
  • Crafting unique and compelling college essays

Bernadette Saldana

Associate Consultant

Bernadette has been working with high school and college students for over 10 years. Prior to joining FLEX, she taught and counseled international high school students in multiple countries on navigating the college application process in the US, and her students have received acceptances to top-tier private and public colleges. Coming from academically challenging educational contexts herself, she understands the difficulties and challenges that many students face in trying to stand out at a competitive high school.

As an Admissions Consultant and College Essay Instructor at FLEX, Bernadette takes a compassionate and hands-on approach, expertly guiding her students through the complicated and often stressful process of applying for college. As a result, Bernadette has had great success helping students write essays that are distinctive, compelling, and reveal their true passions and identities. She also regularly presents webinars on standardized testing changes and college trends in the COVID-19 era.

Bernadette has successfully helped students gain admission to the Ivy League, top 30 schools, as well as the UC campuses with the most selective majors, including selective majors such as Computer Science, Biology, Public Health, and Neuroscience. She specializes in helping students of diverse backgrounds and interests find their best fit application strategy and school list.

Education
  • B.A. Computer Science and Linguistics at UC Berkeley
Subjects
  • AP Computer Science A
  • Computer Science: Java
  • Computer Science: Python
  • Math, Lower Level (Alg2 and Below)
  • Math, Upper Level (Trig and Up)

Dickson Tsai

Master Instructor

Dickson Tsai graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Computer Science and Linguistics, and he is currently a software engineer. While at Berkeley, he worked as a teaching assistant for numerous computer science courses. In addition to teaching undergraduates, he also tutored high school students online in AP Computer Science and on the SAT, reaching the Top 10 in “Super Helpful” ratings at a top online education service platform.

Dickson cares most about cultivating a growth mindset in students, since an internal desire to improve leads to a stronger, healthier motivation than any external reward. He emphasizes a mastery of fundamentals through highly interactive activities like drawing program visualizations for AP Computer Science. 

Through this and other activities, Dickson works to accurately assess his students’ understanding and provide timely, actionable feedback. That way, students can gain the confidence to reason on their own from first principles.

Education
  • B.A. Cinema and Media Studies – Carleton College
  • PhD Art History – Stanford University
Subjects
  • ACT English and Reading
  • AP English Language Composition
  • AP English Language Literature
  • AP Art History
  • College Essay
  • Creative Writing
  • SAT Verbal

Henry Rownd

Master Consultant

Henry’s passion for education is demonstrated in his extensive experience teaching high school students at Stanford University’s summer program and Stanford undergraduates. Over the past 5+ years, he has worked with many students to develop more sensitivity and subtlety in their writing. He has also worked individually with high school and international students taking a wide array of Stanford courses over the summer, though he specializes in English, Art History, and Film Studies-his PhD being a strange mix of all three.

Henry thinks of writing more an artform than an algorithm, a way of thinking and feeling more forcefully about the world rather than a simple means of delivering information. How we write changes what an experience might mean. As an admissions reviewer, Henry has seen just how many applicants are crippled by a too-standard, high school curriculum approach to essay writing, one that does not allow them their own voice.

Henry hopes that his students will not only succeed in their high school essays and college application essays, but that they will develop skills that will benefit them in their college coursework and beyond.