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I thought applying to business school just meant writing a few decent essays and scoring well on the GMAT. Then I met Shawn (Stratus Prep’s Founder) who explained how competitive the process was and how I could differentiate myself even if I didn’t have the top numbers. Luckily, I listened. I never would have gotten into Harvard Business School with a GMAT in the 500’s if it weren’t for Stratus Prep.
I applied to three schools, and the applications and essays for each school were completely different. My Stratus Prep admissions counselor helped me strategize a unique approach for each school and kept me on track throughout this grueling process. With Stratus Prep’s help, I will be enrolling at Wharton, my top choice, this fall.
With the help of my Stratus Prep Admissions Counselor, I not only got into Columbia Business School; I won a full-merit scholarship. That is $150,000+ I can now put towards an apartment. Thanks Stratus Prep!
Stratus Prep admissions counselors go out of their way to make the admissions process run smoothly and efficiently. At my first meeting we set up a schedule that included every draft of every essay, each recommendation, etc. We stuck to the schedule and I submitted all my apps well before the deadlines! Now I have merit-based scholarships at a number of my top choice schools.
With a demanding job in finance, I did not have a lot of flexibility in my schedule. My admissions counselor was so accommodating in meeting whenever I could (even some Sunday nights) and replying immediately to my emails I sent in the middle of the night! Every meeting was very productive, and I always left feeling encouraged. In the end, my application could not have been better, and I was accepted to HBS, my top choice school!
When I applied to business school in the fall, I applied to HBS as a long shot. In order to give it my best possible effort, I went to Stratus Prep for advice. My Stratus Prep offered invaluable feedback on my essays that made a tremendous improvement and helped me prep for the infamously intimidating Harvard interview. The proof is in the pudding: I will be attending HBS next fall. I can't recommend you highly enough.
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Our Admissions Counselors

Samantha Merton Education MA in Statistics from Columbia; MBA from Columbia; BA from Harvard
  • Professional career in marketing research
  • Former admissions interviewer at Columbia Business School
Fun Facts One of my true passions is traveling and every year, my family and I try to find a creative and exciting summer vacation. In 2009, we flew to Seattle and drove home to New York via Canada and the northern United States, and in 2010, we flew to Europe and cruised home via the northern “Viking” route. I also like to horseback ride, solve crossword puzzles and involve myself in a lot of volunteer work. These days, my volunteer work consists of being on boards and organizing events for our local school, however, I used to foster cats and kittens for an animal shelter. I remember while I was in business school, I took care of a mother cat with ten kittens in my small apartment for a few weeks as my appalled roommate shook her head in disbelief. How could anyone study with all of that meowing!
Vanessa Gil Education Bachelor's degree from Harvard, Magna Cum Laude; MBA from Wharton.
About Vanessa Vanessa Gil is a 1997 graduate of Harvard University, where she majored in Art History, with additional coursework in Economics and Finance. She was awarded the Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Scholarship for academic excellence, and graduated magna cum laude. She was also awarded a special grant for thesis research in Florence and Siena.

Upon graduating from Harvard, Vanessa worked as a financial analyst in Mergers and Acquisitions at Violy, Byorum & Partners, a boutique firm focused on Latin America. She then worked as a media and telecom financial analyst at Communications Equity Associates’ Corporate Finance division. Following her work at CEA, Vanessa attended Wharton Business School, having been awarded a full scholarship via the Howard E. Mitchell Fellowship. Her coursework at Wharton focused on International Marketing and Entrepreneurship.

After earning her MBA, Vanessa decided to pursue the lifelong dream of becoming a playwright and novelist. She has written two novels. One of her plays was produced at the Strawberry One-Act Festival in New York, where she was also nominated for Best Director. Previously, she was been a contributor to The New York Observer and Let’s Go: New York. The opportunity to merge her writing talent with her business experience/education for the service of others is something Vanessa values highly.
Jeff Mroz Education Bachelor's degree from Yale University; MBA from Wharton.
About Jeff Jeff Mroz worked for two years as a Graduate Assistant at the Wharton MBA Admissions office. Previously, he was a professional football player, and has experience working in private equity, investment banking, and asset management.
Born and raised in the New York City area, Caroline began her career in management consulting and has a focused expertise in branding, marketing, and innovation strategy. Her clients have spanned a variety of sectors including consumer products/CPG, retail, healthcare, and financial services.
Shaifali Aggarwal Education AB degree from Princeton University; MBA from Harvard Business School
About Shaifali While at Harvard Business School, Shaifali was VP Admissions of the Women’s Student Association, and in this role, worked directly with the Admissions Office as a liaison between current and prospective/admitted women.

Shaifali has spent most of her career as a finance professional on Wall Street, where she worked in the asset management and investment banking industries. She recently left the world of finance to start an online media company, 24 Ours (www.24ours.com), which offers a free, edgy daily email for the busy woman with an urban mindset, featuring ideas to make her life easier across a range of categories.
Tim Hade Education BS United States Air Force Academy, MBA Stanford Graduate School of Business
About Tim Tim grew up in northern New Jersey, and attended college at the United States Air Force Academy where he was a DFM distinguished graduate and NCAA Division 1 Scholar All-American in lacrosse. He subsequently served 5 years in the active duty military, primarily with the US Air Force’s 4th Fighter Wing, and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

Following his time in the Air Force, Tim attended Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, earning his MBA while being active in various student organizations, including the veterans club.
Dileepan Siva Education B.A. from University of California at Berkeley; MBA from Harvard Business School
About Dileepan Dileepan Siva is currently Director – New Business Initiatives for Endeavor Global in San Francisco where he works closely with technology companies in Silicon Valley seeking international growth through strategic partnerships or acquisitions. Prior to Endeavor, Dileepan founded a startup consulting practice advising consumer and technology companies looking to enter emerging markets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa and also worked closely with multilateral and bilateral institutions on political risk issues worldwide. Dileepan holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor's from the University of California at Berkeley and is also a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Michelle Kim Hall Education J.D., Harvard Law School; M.F.A., New York University; B.A., U.C.L.A, Summa Cum Laude
About Michelle After graduating law school, Michelle worked as litigation associate in the San Francisco office of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP where she represented a variety of corporate clients on matters ranging from trade secrets to wage and hour class action suits. At Morgan Lewis, she also cultivated an extensive pro bono practice, including partnering with the ACLU on an investigation of disproportionate minority confinement and initiating a Clean Slate Clinic training program at the firm in conjunction with the East Bay Community Law Center.

Since relocating to the East coast, she has taught writing as an adjunct professor at N.Y.U. and as a Starworks Fellow at Maimonides Children's Hospital in Brooklyn. She is barred in both California and New York.
Hilary Wolkoff Education B.A. in English, cum laude, Dartmouth College; J.D. cum laude, New York University School of Law; MSW, Wurzweiler School of Social Work
About Hilary Hilary is originally from New York. While a student at NYU School of Law, Hilary was active in the Employment and Housing Discrimination Clinic. She began her legal career interning at the Center for Appellate Litigation and was a summer associate at Cahill, Gordon & Reindel. Following graduation from NYU, Hilary worked for three years as a litigation associate at Cahill. In addition to her litigation practice, she was active in the firm’s pro bono work, developing skills in immigration and housing law. She also was a teacher in a firm-sponsored street law class for teenagers.

Hilary is now following her passion and is studying to become a psychoanalyst.
Elissa Jacobs Education B.A. in Psychology, cum laude, Barnard College, Columbia University; J.D. cum laude, New York University School of Law
About Elissa While a student at NYU School of Law, Elissa co-founded the NYU chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice and was active in the Community and Criminal Defense Clinic. She began her legal career interning at National Advocates for Pregnant Women. Following graduation from NYU, Elissa worked at Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton where she worked in the firms litigation and executive compensation practices. She currently works for the New York City Law Department where she defends the City in Federal lawsuits. She has also worked as a professional pastry chef.

Joshua Bruner Education Yale University, Masters; Southwestern University, Bachelors
About JoshuaJoshua graduated from Southwestern University with a Bachelor’s in English. At Southwestern, he was a Paideia Scholar as well as a King Scholar. Additionally, Joshua was a Texas Governor’s Fellow where he served in the office of the Governor of the State of Texas in the Constituent Services Department.

After college, Joshua served as an AmeriCorps Member through City Year New York where he worked at a public school in the South Bronx. Following his year of service, Joshua joined City Year development staff, as the Civic Engagement Manager, directing teams that created partnerships with corporations, law firms, and community-based organizations.

For his graduate studies, Joshua decided to study religion at Yale, after also having received acceptance from Harvard University.

Amy Wang Education MBA from Wharton; MA from the University of Pennsylvania (Lauder Institute); BS from Carnegie Mellon University
About AmyAmy is an investment professional at Deutsche Bank’s Global Social Investment Funds group, where she finances social enterprises in developing countries. Prior to business school, Amy worked as an investment associate at Centinela Capital Partners and an investment banking analyst at Citigroup. While at Wharton/Lauder, Amy was an Admissions Fellow with the Wharton Admissions office.

Amy holds a MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, a Masters in International Studies from the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania and a BS from Carnegie Mellon University.
Sheila Raju EducationBA from Cornell, Double Major: Biology and Economics
MBA from Columbia Business School
About SheilaSheila grew up in the Boston suburbs and northern New Jersey. After college, she spent several years in Debt Capital Markets, covering corporate clients, and Fixed Income Sales & Trading, covering institutional clients. While at Columbia, she was active in several student organizations.

Dan Carroll EducationBS in Finance, University of Illinois
MBA University of Chicago Booth School of Business
About DanDan has been an entrepreneur and senior executive with several early-stage, high growth companies in both technology and finance. In addition to starting two companies, he has also served in various roles in Sales and Marketing, Finance, Operations and Strategy.

Dan is an active member of the University of Chicago Alumni Association and has served as adjunct Admissions advisor and interviewer for the MBA program.

Oscar A. Ibarra Education BA from UCLA in Business and Economics
MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management
About OscarOscar A. Ibarra brings to Stratus Prep over 25 years of diversified executive experience in sales & marketing, strategy, finance, business development, and operations in industries worldwide. In addition to having worked at 5 large and prominent companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Nissan Motors and CITIZEN, Oscar has been involved in start-ups, where he has succeeded in driving growth and executing as an entrepreneur. Oscar has an undergraduate degree from UCLA in Business-Economics plus an MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management, where he has been involved in recruitment and mentoring efforts.

At Hewlett-Packard, Oscar pioneered two of its newest business units from Boise, ID and San Diego, CA respectively as he made great strides as a corporate entrepreneur in the development and execution of the OEM HP worldwide business program dealing in printers, faxes, print mechs & supplies. During his tenure with HP, Oscar was actively involved in the HP-Kellogg recruitment team. Staying within the realm of his expertise, in 2004, Oscar left HP as he accepted the position of President for the Samsung mini-printer business for the Americas based in San Diego, California.

Oscar is an enthusiastic Lakers, Dodgers and Redskins fan.

Andrew Lee Education BA from Cornell University About AndrewAndrew Lee is a master tutor and counselor that has taught and advised hundreds of students throughout his career.

After graduating from Cornell University, he joined Teach For America, a rigorous teaching program with a 10% acceptance rate, as a licensed math teacher in lower-income neighborhoods. In his first year of teaching, his statewide math exam results outmatched those of the other veteran teachers in the school.

His unique approach to teaching and admissions counseling has yielded extraordinary test results and acceptance rates among all of his students.

Prior to joining Stratus Prep, Andrew taught at various test preparation firms, and he also was Curriculum Developer of a previous test prep outlet.

Sara Hansen Education B.A. in Psychology, cum laude, University of Pennsylvania; M.B.A., Harvard Business School; M.S.W., New York University About SaraSara began her career in marketing at American Express. After attending Harvard Business School, where she was president of the marketing club and a career team leader, Sara went on to work as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, advising clients on marketing and organizational issues. Sara then worked at Unilever as a brand manager on well known brands, such as Dove body wash and Suave hair products. After ten years in marketing and consulting, Sara is now passionate about helping others achieve success. She is currently training to become a psychoanalyst, and is excited to combine her understanding of what makes people tick with her business expertise to focus on admissions counseling, career coaching, and executive coaching. />
Jessica Bloomgarden Education BA from Stanford University, MBA from Harvard Business School
About Jessica
    While at Harvard Business School, Jessica the leader or the Startup Tribe and was awarded her class’s Dean’s Award and a Rock/Lebor fellowship for entrepreneurship. At HBS, Jessica also founded her own internet startup, AfterSteps. Prior to business school, Jessica worked in investment banking and venture capital.
Lauren Moses Education MBA from Harvard Business School; BA from Duke University
About Lauren
    Lauren A. Moses earns the right to partner with her clients by working with integrity, curiosity, perspective, and humor. Lauren was an analyst in Hedge Fund Strategies at Goldman, Sachs & Co. and ministered to the investment, banking, and credit needs of high net worth individuals while an associate at J.P. Morgan Private Bank.

    Lauren is an entrepreneur, recording artist, speaker, and writer. She is also a proud alumna of Duke University and the Harvard Business School. Lauren is a member of the Organization Development Network of New York and the Harvard Business School Women’s Association of Greater New York.