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Meet the Coaches

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

Mayán Alvarado-Goldberg

Mayán Alvarado-Goldberg(she/her)

Neuroscience, Class of 2024

What Mayán brings to coaching: "As someone who grew up in a multicultural, multilingual, and multigenerational household, I have often looked for places on campus that remind me of the feeling of comfort and support that I found at home. Typically, this feeling emerges with interactions with other students such as other Posse Scholars, other classmates from big cities, and others who share the same social identities as me whether it be ethnic, gender, or sexuality-centered identities. I value creating collaborative spaces with people that honor and uplift identities, even if they are different than mine as everyone brings something to the table! On an academic level, I have learned so much about the transition from high school to Northwestern and the challenges that come with that, and can empathize with other students facing imposter syndrome and share the strategies for schedule-planning, connecting with professors, and conducting research."

What you wish you'd known as a first year: Planning a class schedule can be overwhelming but there are so many helpful approaches to it and so much time.

Favorite place to study: Pancoe Cafe Coralie

Fun fact: I have a pet gecko named Squash!

Cristian Castrejon

Cristian Castrejon(he/him)

Physics & Astronomy, Class of 2025

What Cristian brings to coaching: "Growing up in a Mexican lower-income family in the northwest side of Chicago, I have always known the value of support. My family offers support to one another as well as others because it helps build a community. A strong community can give an individual assurance towards their goals or success, and I will bring this experience to my mentoring to help other students. As a first year, I was reluctant to seek help because I felt I had no one to go to and everyone else seemed like they didn't need help. I would like to be there for students who experience that challenging transition from high school, because the fast-paced quarter systems feels like there is no time to seek help, and the competitive environment discourages it. "

What you wish you'd known as a first year:  I wish I had known that seeking help is not a bad thing to do! Your success in college requires taking a stand on your academics. Taking advantage of all the support offered will form a strong foundation on how to handle the challenges that will come from your classes and outside of your classes.

Favorite thing about Northwestern: The many research and funding opportunities given is an amazing part of Northwestern because one can get into research without much difficulty!

Fun fact: I am currently training to learn how to operate the Dearborn telescope!

Vicky Chung

Vicky Chung(she/her)

Biological Sciences, 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 you wish you'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 Evanston restaurant: Tomate- they have the best burritos I've ever had!

Best advice you've received: If you're struggling to make a decision, it's usually because the harder choice is the right one.

Ben Cummings

Ben Cummings(he/they)

Journalism & Political Science, Theater minor, Class of 2024

Ben is studying abroad winter quarter 2024 and will return for spring quarter 2024.

What Ben brings to coaching: "I struggled with time management throughout my first and second years at Northwestern, and I think my journey can help students explore different ways to develop healthy habits and learn to balance different pressures, explorations, and expectations. I also wanted to pursue the arts and struggled to grasp what place that may have or where to find a social group. I cast my net really wide and got to know students pursuing different majors in different communities, so if I can't speak from personal experience, I probably know someone who went through a similar thing! College is hard, and there is an unspoken and misleading notion that you have to go it alone. I want to help students flourish at a school with a plethora of opportunities to pursue a profession, make friends, or just have some fun every once in a while!"

What you wish you'd known as a first year: I wish I had known that sometimes it is better to take fewer classes and open up your schedule to be able to explore all of the different opportunities Northwestern has to offer; and to make friends on campus!

Favorite thing about Northwestern: I love how interdisciplinary it is, specifically between the art and STEM worlds. You can meet music students who are engineers or RTVF students who are expert computer scientists.

Fun fact: I am a fan of alternative/vibey sports like skateboarding, hacky sacking and slacklining!

Katelyn Gau

Katelyn Gau(she/her)

Biological Sciences & Global Health, Class of 2026

What Katelyn brings to coaching: "As a first-generation, BIPOC undergraduate student, I recognize and have experienced similar challenges and inequities that students are encountering, provoking me to lead with a racial and social justice lens. I was able to navigate those challenges by seeking advice and listening to different experiences from my professors, TAs, and mentors and acting upon the approach that was best fit for me. I want to help bridge these gaps, especially for first-generation and low-income students, by sharing those same resources and support with others!"

What you wish you'd known as a first year: Everyone's college experience looks different, and there's so much merit in surrounding yourself with people who come from all backgrounds and experiences! Recognizing your individual salient identities, values, and passions will guide you in finding the opportunities and resources that best support you.

Favorite place to study: Inside of Kellogg facing the skyline or lakefill!

Favorite thing about Northwestern: As clichéd as it sounds, the people!

Josue Idani

Josue Idani(he/him)

Neuroscience, Class of 2024

What Josué brings to coaching: "As a fellow student, I understand the struggle of trying to balance school work on top of a busy schedule, work, and life. I want to help students succeed both academically and attain their career aspirations. I think I have a warm personality that makes people feel comfortable when talking to me, regardless of our differences in background and culture."

What you wish you'd known as a first year: I wish I had known that I had plenty of time to explore opportunities and did not need to rush the process of getting acclimated into projects.

Best advice you've received: You should at least try, as who knows what opportunities lie ahead of you.

Favorite thing about Northwestern: I love that NU is filled with students from all over the world.

Sofia Kennedy

Sofia Kennedy(she/her)

Neuroscience & Science in Human Culture, Class of 2024

What Sofia brings to coaching: "As the oldest of four children, I like to think I have an innate sense of leadership. I love providing advice, listening to others, and motivating people to do their personal best that they can feel proud of.  As the first premed in my family, I am navigating Northwestern and the premed track on my own. While it can be overwhelming at times, I have learned a lot about the premed track and NU in general that I wish I knew my freshman year. I am eager to spread this knowledge and help ease the stress of college for other students. I truly value work-life balance, and I would love to help other students  prioritize themselves while focusing on academics. "

What you wish you'd known as a first year:  One of the biggest lessons I learned by the end of freshman year was how to take it one day at a time. Being surrounded by all of the opportunities and driven peers here can be overwhelming; prioritize meeting new people and making memories.

Favorite place to study: Mudd

Fun fact: I am a dual citizen in Poland!

Filip Maninski

Filip Maninski(he/him)

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 you wish you'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.

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

Michael Meagher

Michael Meagher(he/him)

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 you wish you'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

Best advice you've ever received: Be yourself.

Darran Shen

Darran Shen(he/him)

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

Lana Sheng

Lana Sheng(she/her)

Psychology & Economics, Class of 2026

What Lana brings to coaching: "As a recovering perfectionist, I’ve learned to stop comparing myself to others, especially in an environment like Northwestern, where there are so many talented community members. You can look to others for inspiration, but it’s important to focus on your own abilities and celebrate your growth. Through self-reflection, I understand my strengths and areas of improvement, and use this knowledge to achieve my goals. As a peer coach, I can do the same for you, and I will root for you throughout your whole journey!"

What you wish you'd known as a first year:  I wish I'd known that it is normal to be challenged in a course, as it isn't a sign of failure, rather,  it's part of the learning process! It helps to attend office hours early on to connect with your professors and TAs (they are excited to meet you too!),  and to utilize your peer resources in the course.

Favorite Evanston resturant: Shang Noodle

Best advice you've ever received: People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Natalia Tapia Moreno

Natalia Tapia Moreno(she/her)

Creative Writing, Anthropology, Art Theory and Practice, Class of 2025

What Natalia brings to coaching: "I'm an international, Mexican, low income, female, first-gen student. I want to help others realize that NU is our space too, and our perspectives are welcome. I want to offer a space at NU where you won't be judged and where together we will work to alleviate all the worries that come with becoming an undergrad."

What you wish you'd known as a first year:  I wish I had known that professors and TAs are way more approachable than I used to believe, and that I can and should ask for help whenever I'm struggling with school.

Favorite place to study:  Kresge or Norris

Favorite thing about Northwestern:  The variety of classes in the humanities. I always learn about random subjects and find niche interests.