Skip to main content

Meet the Coaches

Our peer coaches offer one-to-one academic coaching personalized to each student's needs. Meet the team below.

Sinem Atalay

Sinem Atalay

Psychology, Class of 2023

What Sinem brings to coaching: "As a transfer student, I have learned how to adapt to new environments and different challenges within academia. Additionally, throughout my four years at college, I have learned the importance of balance between a social and academic life. "

What I wish I'd known as a first year: I wish I had known how important it is to give yourself time to rest and socialize.

Favorite place to study: Norris or outside

Best advice I've ever received: There is no ideal path to success.

Zorina Chen

Zorina Chen

Sociology & Political Science, Class of 2023

What Zorina brings to coaching"I very much look forward to sharing the useful academic strategies that I've learned over my 3 years at Northwestern."

What I wish I'd known as a first year: Don't be afraid of reaching out to people for help.

Favorite restaurant in Evanston: Koco Table

Best advice I've ever received: Never forget to stop and appreciate how far you've come.

Vicky Chung

Vicky Chung

Biology, Class of 2024

What Vicky brings to coaching: "I'm a STEM student who comes from a strong humanities background, so I have a lot of experience with bridging the gaps between the two and am still working through that process right now! In that same vein, as someone who knew nothing and had to learn all the "outside of the classroom" things you have to do as a pre-professional student, I have a lot of research and resources under my belt that I can help with, including how to map out a 4-year plan."

What I wish I'd known as a first year: I wish I hadn't taken everything so seriously! I came in with such a romanticized version of college that I felt I had to match this expectation I had made up in my head. In that same vein, I wish I had ventured way more out of my comfort zone and taken advantage of the clubs, organizations, and opportunities that NU has to offer much sooner!

Favorite place to study: Anywhere with a vending machine

Fun fact: I am terrified of frogs!

Megan Gauger

Megan Gauger

Psychology & Global Health, Class of 2023

What Megan brings to coaching: "I attempt to embody warmth, support, and patience in my coaching. The best mentors in my own life, especially in the context of academics, have been understanding and willing to listen above all else. My goal is to work with students to understand their personal circumstances and how we can work together to accomplish their goals."

What I wish I'd known as a first year: I wish that I had known that it is okay to change your academic trajectory! Your path through college does not have to (and likely will not be) linear and you'll learn so much along the way.

Fun fact: I love baking and cake decorating! I even used to have a cake business. 

Best advice I've ever received: Make time for the people you love!

Adam Jaffe

Adam Jaffe

Social Policy & Economics, Class of 2025

What Adam brings to coaching: "One foundational perspective for me, especially when it comes to school, is my baseball background. I grew up playing my whole life, and one thing you learn quickly in baseball is that it takes a lot of habit-building to create success. I learned how to create a growth mindset, focus on the little things, and how turn the stepbacks into teachable moments. So I take the work ethic and training strategies I learned in baseball everywhere I go, which has been a huge help. "

What I wish I'd known as a first year: I wish I had known that it takes time before feeling comfortable at college. It takes a lot of experimenting and adjusting before school, friends, and activities feel routine.

Favorite place to study: By the lake

Best advice I've ever received: To be my authentic self!

Refilwe Kebadireng

Refilwe Kebadireng

Chemical Engineering, Class of 2023

What Refilwe brings to coaching: "As an international student, I understand the added challenge of navigating a new environment while adapting to a rigorous college schedule. This has also made me more intentional about realizing that there's a lot of external factors that could be affecting how I show up and how I do academically: Am I taking care of myself? Getting enough sleep? Have I made some time to spend with loved ones or do something I enjoy? With this in mind, I prioritize building a strong rapport with my peers during coaching sessions, which will allow us to talk through not just purely academic matters, but also identify other issues that could potentially be contributing to their current academic challenges."

What I wish I'd known as a first year: Ask for help - NU has so many resources aimed at making this journey so much more manageable - use them.

Fun fact: I love to cook - not to say I'm a good cook - but the learning process has been so exciting for me. This summer in particular I've been making food from home and it's something that makes me really happy.

Favorite thing about Northwestern: I love how it has exposed me to so many things I would never have thought of doing.. like interning at an NGO through GESI, taking part in a leadership program through the Center for Leadership, etc. There's just a tonne of opportunities offered by the school in almost anything you can imagine.

Best advice I've ever received: Nothing worth doing is going to be easy.

Mikayla Lindsey

Mikayla Lindsey

Sociology, Psychology, & Global Health, Class of 2023

What MIkayla brings to coaching: "I am a female, FGLI, Latinx, LGBTQ+ identifying student. These identities let me have a unique experience at Northwestern in and out of the classroom. I feel comfortable speaking to any of these experiences! I hope to create a space for coaching that is collaborative and focused on reaching the student's goals. "

What I wish I'd known as a first year: I wish I had known two things: 1) self-advocacy is one of the most valuable skills a person can develop and 2) building relationships with other members of the institution is critical to success, whether it be academic, professional, or personal.

Fun fact: I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark in Fall 2021!

Favorite place to study: In the Mac lab at Main, or outside, wherever there's a view of the lake.

Best advice I've ever received:  We live in the grey areas of life.

Filip Maninski

Filip Maninski

Sociology, Class of 2025

What Filip brings to coaching: "My academic journey has been full of moments of not fitting in: too impatient for data science but not well-read enough to study English, not as creative as art majors but too interested in humanities to pursue economics. As a first-generation, low-income student the process of my self-discovery has been pretty tough, I oftentimes felt lost not having a lot of support. That's why I believe in the power of coaching: it helps you connect with people who relate to your experiences and help you find your own path!"

What I wish I'd known as a first year: Your first year will be challenging! Once you have adjusted to the pace of the classes, found people you trust and got used to living in a new environment, everything will get much easier.

Fun fact: I geek out over public transport.

Favorite place to study: 1 South in the Main Library - especially in the mornings when it's quiet and the sun shines through the windows!

Best advice I've ever received: Do what makes you happy.

Michael Meagher

Michael Meagher

Economics, Class of 2024

What Michael brings to coaching: "I approach coaching with a perspective of tolerance. I was raised in a low-pressure, supportive environment that rewarded effort over results. I attempt to replicate that setting in my coaching meetings and try to help my coachees feel supported and confident. At Northwestern, effort always trumps results, as students only have so much control over outcomes. I remind my coachees that they control their processes and that to grow and develop, they must find confidence and positive habits independent of their grades."

What I wish I'd known as a first year: Take it slow with classes, extracurriculars, etc. to avoid becoming overwhelmed while still getting the most out of your Northwestern experience.

Favorite place to study: Mudd Library

Favorite thing about Northwestern: NU Athletics!

Best advice I've ever received: Be yourself.

Brandon Ozobu

Brandon Ozobu

Biological Sciences, Class of 2024

What Brandon brings to coaching: "I understand the fear of not being perfect and the pain that comes from falling short in your academics and future endeavors. My best quality that I look to instill in my peers is perseverance. There’s multiple ways to the same goals and I find enjoyment in helping others see this revelation. "

What I wish I'd known as a first year:  Breathe and relax. It's going to be hard but what's more important is managing your time. Don't overwork yourself early on and understand the value of investing in relationships with your peers.

Fun Fact:  I love music and make my own as well.

Favorite place to study:  Any quiet room where I can stand up, walk around, and talk to myself. Preferably with one other person.

Best advice I've ever received: If you're studying all day, you're doing something wrong.

Siwon Park

Siwon Park

Biology & Psychology, Class of 2023

What Siwon brings to coaching: "I would like to bring my experiences at Northwestern as a pre-dental student and a biology and psychology major to my coaching to help students find various resources, studying skills, and ways to cope with stress to promote further academic success. I value hard work as well as self-care and strongly believe that balancing work and self-care is crucial to success."

What I wish I'd known as a first year: I wish I had known to not be afraid of failure and that there are so many people and resources to get help from.

Favorite thing about Northwestern: Beautiful campus with lakefill!

Best advice I've ever received: Believe in yourself.

Darran Shen

Darran Shen

Economics & History, class of 2024

What Darran brings to coaching: "My perspective is that of independence and curiosity. At Northwestern, I've learned that personal success and fulfillment comes from seeking things out myself. No one will help make your decisions for you here. Instead, you should strive to figure things out yourself and take advantage of the resources and people around you. You should remain open and curious about new ideas and activities. The most fulfilling thing in college is to seek out something new and fall in love with it. "

What I wish I'd known as a first year: I wish that I knew how open teachers are to speaking with you. It's always intimidating, but they are more than happy to take the time and help you, whether it's additional academic support or advice.

Favorite place to study: The small study room in Goodrich.

Best advice I've ever received: Put your time in the things that are most important to you; don't try to do everything.

Wilma Tay

Wilma Tay

Economics & Psychology, Class of 2024

What Wilma brings to coaching: "I bring my unique experience as a first-generation black female international student to my coaching. I have a good understanding of the academic challenges students face, especially those related to their socio-economic backgrounds, and so I can empathize and share the resources I know may be helpful to them too. Even for students I don't share much of my experiences or identities  with, I am still able to provide a lot of help because I am very adaptive, open to learning and good at creating connections with people."

What I wish I'd known as a first year:  I wish I had known that there was no reason to be afraid to ask for help. Everyone is very willing and happy to help you in whichever way they can. 

Favorite Evanston Restaurant:  Frida's Breakfast and Lunch

Willow Vander Kooi

Willow Vander Kooi

Economics, Class of 2023

What Willow brings to coaching: "I transferred to Northwestern before my Junior year and that has been an important part of my experience at Northwestern and my time in college overall.  I think that having two years at another school not only gave me a slightly different perspective on college in general but also forced me to develop ways to adapt to a new environment (as a military kid, adapting to new environments was also a part of my experience growing up).  As a coach, I hope to be able to support other students as they adjust to different challenges and changes in their academic experience just as I was supported (or wish I was supported) both growing up and after I transferred!"

What I wish I'd known as a first year: I wish I had known that class locations and times really do matter and it is not bad to allow them to influence class enrollment decisions in order to help me build a schedule that is a better fit for me and my daily habits.

Fun fact: I have done competitive Irish dance since I was 4.

Favorite thing about Northwestern: Beautiful campus with lakefill!

Favorite Evanston restaurant:  Coralie's - for both food and studying!

Aida Zeleke

Aida Zeleke

Social Policy, Class of 2023

What Aida brings to coaching: "As a seasoned procrastinator, I have experimented with different time and stress management strategies to help me balance my academic workload and other commitments. I am able to relate to students who struggle with this issue and others such as perfectionism, the feeling of not doing enough, and imposter syndrome. With these experiences, I can help students curate their personalized list of strategies and coping mechanisms to manage the specific issues they are dealing with. I can also connect students to different resources at Northwestern to help with this process. "

What I wish I'd known as a first year: I wish I knew that going to tutoring and office hours are not the last resorts when I am falling behind in my classes but rather proactive measures to strengthen my understanding, keep myself accountable for not procrastinating on my work, and foster relationships with professors and other students.

Favorite place to study: I like studying in Mudd when I need to concentrate

Best advice I've ever received: Take advantage of Northwestern Career Advancement! They offer the best career counseling and job application help for free. Start talking to them in your freshman year so that they can help you plan and find opportunities to get experience in the career you want to go into. You do not want to find out you don't really like the career you chose in your 4th year.