Harvard-, Swarthmore-, USC-Film-educated, BBC-trained Tutor/Counselor
Harvard-, Swarthmore-, USC-Film-educated, BBC-trained Tutor/Counselor
Response time: 2 hours
Professionally and essentially – even existentially – I am a communications analyst, designer and developer. While at Swarthmore, I heard the first glimmer of a calling; nothing compelled me more than “translating”: unearthing and analyzing information and shaping and deploying language to help people understand and appreciate the full import of people, ideas, and other complex systems. Particularly gratifying was helping them to see the coherence, even personal relevance, of beliefs,...
Professionally and essentially – even existentially – I am a communications analyst, designer and developer. While at Swarthmore, I heard the first glimmer of a calling; nothing compelled me more than “translating”: unearthing and analyzing information and shaping and deploying language to help people understand and appreciate the full import of people, ideas, and other complex systems. Particularly gratifying was helping them to see the coherence, even personal relevance, of beliefs, systems, and other phenomena they’d previously perceived to be remote, irrelevant, or incomprehensible. My ardor for this kind of work fueled my study at Swarthmore, where I majored in religion, and my subsequent move into researching, developing, pitching, and producing informative content – at first for long-form, high-end BBC and PBS arts and culture programs, and later for BBC News. Proving adept at doing this work in three mediums (web, radio and television), I ultimately became first American BBC News hired to run one of its US bureaus. My original research became the basis for an independent feature film honored at festivals like Cannes and Sundance, while my secondary research helped shape the content of Robert Hughes’ American Visions - a finalist for an International Emmy. (I’ll leave it there).
Later, seeing the great need for “translations” of Muslims’ world views, I decided to leave that world for Harvard, where, at the Law School, I studied Islamic law, and at the Graduate School (GSAS), I studied Islamic political thought, art and culture – winning fellowships and obtaining an MA. Later, eager to understand and deploy the affordances of other, more interactive mediums, and having won an Annenberg Fellowship, I enrolled in the Interactive Media graduate program that best combined the scholarly and the practical: that at USC “film” school (now called Cinematic Arts). In the course of obtaining my MFA, I shaped innumerable analyses – yes: even of videogames, undertook a great deal of primary and secondary research, and led research-informed design and development of educational games and experiences. Now, I help individuals and organizations conceptualize, pitch, design, develop, and produce compelling, informative packages and experiences in a wide array of forms and mediums – traditional and social, linear and interactive.
Among the things increasing my work’s effectiveness has been my study of the research literature that explains how the brain works; how the brain engages with entities like stories, facts, pictures, sounds, words, and movements; and what those cognitive processes imply about how educators, writers, and other communicators ought shape their work to ensure that students, readers, and other audiences find it resonant, meaningful, educational, and memorable.
Why the move to tutoring? While my professional life, thus far, helps me do my work at some scale, it does not provide me certain experiences I find very meaningful: the chance to provide personalized help that addresses an individual’s own needs; the chance to see the haze lift, when s/he grasps something s/he didn’t see or understand before; the chance to play an active, constructive role in helping someone get into school, whether the school of her dreams or the one best equipped to help him become who he wants and has the potential to be. I’m really looking forward to creating partnerships that can help students reach their goals. Do please reach out, so we can get started.
What does writing a high-scoring SAT essay require? Conducting an incisive analysis of the ways in which an author has used evidence, reasoning, and rhetoric to shape a piece of argumentation; and shaping that analysis into a written piece characterized by clear, well-crafted, even poetic, language – all very quickly.
Perhaps some people wield profound, immediately evident gifts at conducting and writing such analyses. I did not. While my success in conducting and composing analyses of arguments, texts, and systems have been foundational to many things – to finding so much enjoyment in the world; to winning good jobs, school acceptances, and merit-based complete fellowships (rare for masters programs) – for me, those are largely learned skills. They too are teachable ones. Because I remember the process of learning those skills – what worked, what instruction intended to build my skills ultimately proved counterproductive – I’m very well-placed to teach good analytical thought and writing to others, and to improve the skills, speed, and artistry of those already wielding some. In fact, my own uneven path – my needing to unlearn incomplete instruction and misdirection before learning good thought and practice – makes me ideal to teach constructive, helpful methods and skills and to right the paths of those who received poor instruction earlier.
Data shows that these skills truly are worth learning, even worth improving, when one can. Such training will help both in the long term and the immediate future, as college admissions committees from many competitive school check SAT essays to discern an applicant’s skill in thinking, analyzing and writing – distinguishing those who wield those skills independently from those whose application essays appear strong – possibly as the result of others’ (parents’, tutors’) contributions….
Essential to my professional and academic success, I’ve come to realize over time, has been both my hunger to learn and my inclination toward boredom. Nearly without stop, my mind is separating wheat from chaff, discarding the expected and familiar while grasping or seeking out the intriguing, fresh, and meaningful – and building out from it, even from a small kernel, a richly interesting piece of prose, film, etc. I know – from how textured and compelling it makes the world (for me) and from the responses I’ve obtained from BBC editors and audiences, school admissions officers, and faculty members – that I my work on this front is quite strong.
Happily, the boredom-skill bundle I’ve fashioned is also perfectly matched to counseling on college and graduate school essay writing. I know that, if something I’m reading doesn’t create a spark in me, it’s unlikely to do so in admissions committee members. Crucially, I also know how to guide writers through a process by which they craft statements that are smart, thoughtful, well-composed and engaging - both for the reader and the writer. (Imagine!)
I know so intimately how to write the good, and successfully revive the dead, essay because they’re tasks I faced myself. I devoted many months to writing my personal statement for college applications – worked really hard to articulate my interests and values authentically, while ensuring I would sound like the kind of person I thought schools would want. Yet, even after months of work, and facing the submission deadline just days before me, I loathed my personal statement. I needed feedback from no one to know: it was lifeless.
Entering my mind, all of a sudden, was an idea for an unorthodox approach – one that would articulate my point of view and values authentically; render my voice audible; create a piece that would be vastly more interesting for me to write and for my audiences to read. Following that path did mean taking some risks; but in realizing the great risk implicit in submitting my stone dead essay, I proceeded. After judging my first draft worth developing further, I continued, then finished, then submitted it. I believe that deciding to write and send it proved two of the wisest decisions I ever made. That statement got me into every school to which I applied
Except for one - the one school on my “list” where, I learned definitively in graduate school, I didn’t belong and would not have been happy. (How did I know? The alumna of that school were nothing like me; nor were their ways of viewing and engaging in the world ones I wanted to wield). I mention this because, on this second front too – in deciding what schools one ought ponder, visit, and to submit applications to, and how ought approach and manage all of these processes – I can be enormously helpful. Where one goes to school is an enormously important decision; but what makes a school a good match for an individual student is as much about that student’s temperament, interests, and tastes as it is about his or her test scores and grades. I have both experience and success in helping students and families find, apply, and get into schools to which they’re well matched, having done it informally but meticulously for colleagues’ family-members many times over the years. I know it has helped; one received admissions from a collection of top schools not even on his list when I first began counseling him. He’s starting at Berkeley this fall – and he, and his family, could not be more happy – with him or with me.
Further equipping me to help is my own history of study – not only its volume and its ceaselessness (I’m constantly skill-building) but also my constructing that study in dialogue or conversation with the working world. Not only did and does my desire to do new, increasing types kinds of work prompt my returns to campuses; while on campuses, I have seen (and learned the importance of investigating) what kinds of training various majors do, and do not, include. By combining those two kinds of knowledge, I have a strong sense of how various majors do, or don’t, align with job markets and the sorts of skills employers or graduate school admissions officers are and are likely to be seeking. I can help students think and talk about their goals in ways that reflect that knowledge so that they make choices about schools and fields of study – and so that they wield options – that maximize, rather than limit, their opportunities for future satisfaction, work, and/or study.
I invite you to contact me to get started or to learn more. I look forward to working with you!
Response time: 2 hours