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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.

Sinem Atalay

Sinem Atalay

Psychology, Class of 2023

"I want students to know that they are not alone and that so many students have had similar experiences that they are having and been okay."

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

"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

"I feel like we as students have been trained our whole lives to think of life as a race or competition, but I think college is a place where people are able to realize more and more that that is definitely not the case, and is in fact more a collaborative effort where, when we share resources, we all advance together. I think ASLA embraces that philosophy, and I want to be able to be a part of that exchange of knowledge, resources, advice, and support! :)"

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

"Working as a peer coach provides an opportunity to get to know other students and work through the college experience together. Balancing rigorous academics with college life is hard and everyone could use a little support and guidance. I have been lucky enough to have fantastic mentors and I look forward to sharing what I have learned with my peers."

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

"I feel like I could have benefited from talking to someone about all the emotions and stresses of being a first-year student at college. School is rigorous, the environment is so new, and life just seems to move faster. I hope I can give people a space to discuss all of those complex thoughts and process them in whatever way works best."

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

"I had a really tough time in junior year at NU (particularly academically), and I remember the entire time yearning for someone I could talk to who could share their experiences and allow me a space to do the same with them. Thankfully along the way I met people like that, from mentors to professors. And after all that I knew that I wanted to be able to do something like that for another student, to work with them and help out in any way I can using my experiences and things I've picked up along the way. Also because I know there's a lot I can learn from others as well."

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

"I think that having conversations, sharing experiences, and building relationships with people are key to overcoming any kind of obstacle. However, I know that academic struggles bring with them a special kind of pressure, especially as a student at this university. I want to work with other students so they have a space to share their challenges, identify strategies, and develop skills that will allow them to have a fruitful educational experience. "

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.

Selina Liu

Selina Liu

Philosophy & Economics, Class of 2024

"I want to share my academic passions with others."

Favorite place to study: Norris

Best advice I've ever received: Make the most out of college

Favorite thing about Northwestern: My friends

Filip Maninski

Filip Maninski

Sociology, Class of 2025

"Coming to university can be an overwhelming experience that makes us feel alienated in our struggles. I joined ASLA to help others find their way in Northwestern from a perspective of someone who has gone through the same struggles! "

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

"Peer coaching is a great opportunity to impact the Northwestern community on an individual level. Being able to support other students and meaningfully impact their college experiences is unbelievably fulfilling and gratifying."

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

"ASLA provides an incredible opportunity to pass on the knowledge and wisdom I have received over the years to other students. Sometimes, it just takes steering someone in the right direction for them to figure it out. I never had that person when I started at Northwestern and needed help, so I want to be that person for someone else."

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

"I want to work with other students through ASLA to help my peers improve their grades by suggesting various study methods and academic skills."

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

"I want to lend my knowledge to other students and help them get ahead wherever they need it. It's difficult being a student at Northwestern, and I want to help."

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

"ASLA has been very instrumental in my success... I took advantage of the drop in peer tutoring and the peer guided study groups and they helped me immensely. I want to work with other students through ASLA because I want to help others understand that there is a wide range of resources at their disposal and they only need to ask and be pointed in the right direction...Above all, I would love to have a community that I can freely discuss issues with while working together to seek solutions."

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

"I have experience as a TA and tutor and really enjoy opportunities to help my peers (as others have helped me before) make the most of their classes without adding unnecessary stress because of a lack of proper support. "

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

"I have done a program similar to the ASLA peer coaching program and it has helped me a lot with navigating the resources on campus and feeling supported as I had a person I could reach out to with questions. It was crucial to my wellbeing academically and in my personal life on campus. "

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.