All top-tier MBAs with professional writing and coaching in their background as well as great determination as they withstood being trained by Kathryn who is unapologetically ruthless, our advisors give their all to help clients realize their business school dreams. They are why our success rate is what it is.
Stacked with both current and former top business school Career Management and Admissions members as well as an award-winning author who was formally trained at University of Pennsylvania and Harvard to build her creative writing chops, our leadership team can't imagine a more rewarding way to spend their days (and often nights) than providing clients the support they need to move from square one to business school. They too are why our success rate is what it is.
In 2009 Kathryn Lucas founded Square One Prep, an MBA Admissions firm that has partnered with 550+ clients and sustained a success rate that no other firm matches.
With a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Auburn University, after which she practiced architecture for seven years, and a MBA from Wharton, Kathryn ventured into MBA Admissions in early 2003 when she became a GMAT preparation consultant at Veritas Prep. Later that year, she joined the commercial development team at Forest City Ratner to help manage the development of Atlantic Yards/Barclays Center, a $4 billion, 7 million square foot, Brooklyn-based project designed by Frank Gehry. She dedicated herself to that endeavor until June 2007, when she left the world of development to write a book, It Is What It Is, published in July 2008. Inspired by how her book motivated people to introspect, face challenges, and dream big, she then re-joined Veritas Prep as an MBA admissions advisor so she could continue to help people assess their lives and reach for their ambitions. Not long after, realizing that her approach to partnering with applicants was distinct and unusually successful, she started Square One.
Kathryn’s approach involves providing expert, hands-on advice with wit and candor, thereby making the notoriously grueling application process enjoyable for clients. In addition to providing strategic guidance to all Square One advisor/client partnerships and personally partnering with clients who prefer to work exclusively with her on their applications, she also conducts 100% of the firm’s free consults. She will frankly tell you if applying to business school is the right next move or not, as she believes it is her duty to help folks make smart decisions for their futures and spend their money wisely, even if that means urging a prospective client to understand that they aren’t ready for business school or that business school isn’t the right place for them. With expertise in creative writing, academic coaching, and marketing, Kathryn has personally guided more than 220 clients. Simply put, she loves helping folks make their aspirations come true.
Kathryn is also a member of AIGAC (Association of Graduate Admissions Consultants). When she isn’t busy helping her clients manifest their dreams she enjoys practicing yoga, traveling, dancing, and learning about new artists in the electronic music space.
Ashley Collins is an award-winning published author as well as a producer, director, choreographer and actor. She received her BA in English and Theatre Arts from the University of Pennsylvania and her MFA from the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. Ashley’s various artistic disciplines, in combination with her Ivy League pedigree, combine to create her dynamite skill of working alongside Kathryn to review Square One client work and ensure it sets our clients apart from the competition.
Ashley is the co-author (with Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Entertainment) of Produce Your Own Damn Movie! (Focal Press, 2009) and the sole author of The Cheap Bastard’s Guide to Los Angeles (Globe Pequot Press, 2011), as well as the reviser and updater on The Cheap Bastard’s Guide to New York City (Globe Pequot Press, 2014), all of which received rave reviews. She is a frequent contributor to MovieMaker Magazine and The Huffington Post. Her short story, “Daddy’s Girl,” was published in the St. Petersburg Review and her short story, “Aunt Maryann Was Stolen,” won her a scholarship to the 2015 Disquiet International Literary Program. Ashley edits manuscripts and book proposals and is currently working on her next three books; two non-fiction and one fiction.
Ashley produced Chasing Taste, the 2014 Manhattan Film Festival and 2013 Burbank International Film Festival “Best Comedy” winner. She is also a co-creator of the musical comedy, Mother Eve’s Secret Garden of Sensual Sisterhood, recently optioned for a national tour and off-Broadway production by Hemisphere Two Entertainment. Ashley was a member of the 2015 Directors Lab at Lincoln Center Theater.
Ashley speaks conversational Russian and Spanish and has lived in Moscow. She currently resides in Harlem with her Colombian classical guitarist husband and their daughter. She is immensely passionate about travel, hiking, theater, film, yoga, biking all over Manhattan any chance she gets, cereal and hotter than hell summers.
Alana Waisbrot is Square One Prep’s Career Narrative Expert, drawing on her extensive experience in career management at two top tier MBA programs, Columbia Business School and The Kellogg School of Management. She loves using her expertise to help Square One clients better define their interests, skills, and career goals to ensure their applications are traction-worthy to admissions committees while also being aligned with clients’ passions.
In addition to her Square One Prep work, Alana is a Career Consultant at Columbia Business School, where she worked in the role of Associate Director of Career Education and Advising for eight years and now advises MBAs on a full range of career topics including self-assessment, strategy planning, professional branding, interview preparation and negotiation. At CBS, Alana is also an Alumni Career Advisor and teaches interview workshops. Separately, Alana is a resume reviewer for NYU's Stern School of Business.
Before joining Columbia, Alana managed the on campus recruiting program at The Kellogg School of Management with leading organizations from around the globe. Prior to her roles in higher education, she spent several years on Wall Street in Campus Recruiting and HR at Lehman Brothers and Citigroup's Global Corporate and Investment Bank.
Alana graduated with a bachelor's degree with honors in Psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and completed Masters level coursework in Psychological Counseling at Teachers College - Columbia.
Alana lives in Port Washington, NY and, when not thinking about all things career-related, enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, playing tennis and traveling.
Wendy Bagdi-Durrua is one of Square One Prep’s Career Narrative Experts. She brings to Square One clients her passion for coaching and mentoring, helping others develop personally and professionally to achieve their goals
With corporate experience across finance and audit, customer experience and marketing strategy, client relationship management, investor relations, business development, program development and project management, Wendy offers a broad perspective to her clients. In addition to working for American Express, General Motors and PwC, Wendy has worked with non-profit organizations and small businesses. Leveraging her expertise transitioning across organizations, industries and disciplines, Wendy guides her clients to define their professional journey and vision in order to communicate their story in a thoughtful, authentic and credible way.
Wendy graduated with an MBA from The Wharton School and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. She is a member of the Wharton MBA resume review team and participates in the Boston College mentorship program.
When not coaching, advising or taking classes for her own development, Wendy enjoys entertaining, travel and outdoor adventures with her husband, family and friends.
William Andahazy, Ed.D. is on the Square One Prep Career Narrative Expert team and has over 15 years of university administration experience in professional development, career management and corporate relations with MBA programs at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Villanova University School of Business and Temple University Fox School of Management. He is currently a consultant to major universities in areas such as career and professional development, program development and innovation.
Prior to working in higher education, Bill spent over 10 years in corporate human resources management with an emphasis on Talent Management, Training and Organizational Development. He has experience working in various industries includingmanufacturing, environmental science, defense, hospitality, and professional sports.
Bill has a Doctorate in Education, with a concentration in Higher Education Leadership from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA. His research is focused on global education programs and in career and professional development. He has a Master of Science degree in Human Resources Administration from the University of Scranton and a Bachelors degree from the University of Maryland at College Park. Bill currently serves on the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing, and Conservation in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and is an avid outdoors enthusiast.
Haig Chahinian has prepared individuals for their next professional steps since his days at the University of Southern California. Training fellow undergrads to mentor local junior high students, he oriented incoming freshmen to campus life. He loved seeing people grow. As an admissions officer, he recruited USC’s strongest incoming class of that time.
But wanting to develop himself more, he packed a suitcase and left sunny Los Angeles for the snow and humidity of New York City. He administered Barnard’s pre-college program while pursuing a dual masters in organizational psychology and counseling psychology at Columbia. This led to an internship in the career services unit of JPMorgan Chase. Haig helped thousands of employees find new work inside and outside the firm. One of his favorite accomplishments was writing and delivering a 3-course social media curriculum that converted luddites into LinkedIn pros. But he never left higher education. At NYU, Columbia, and the City University of New York, Haig helped hundreds of undergraduate and MBA students enter the workforce.
Haig’s been featured on CNN's "Your Money," and as host of Manhattan cable access’s "Career Talk Live," he's shared his career management expertise with the public. He has served on the board of trustees of the C.G. Jung Foundation for Analytic Psychology, and is an active member of the New York Center for the Study of Groups, Organizations, and Social Systems.
Along with coaching professionals and aspiring MBAs, Haig has been publishing his writing on race, parenting, and life as he knows it in O The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, and Salon. He lives with his husband and their almost teenage daughter.
Luis Bellon is on the career narrative expert team at Square One Prep, where he works zealously with clients to help them explore career options and craft visions that are ambitious, grounded, authentic, and of course admissions committee-proof. He loves learning from and educating his clients, all of which occurs due to the tough questions he asks that lead clients to do research, introspect, and come back to discussions having learned more about themselves and what they do or don’t want to do.
With a B.S. in Civil Engineering and an M.E. in Coastal & Oceanographic Engineering, both from the University of Florida, Luis spent 10 years managing large scale projects in the heavy civil and marine construction industry prior to earning his MBA from Berkeley-Haas and receiving his certification in Advanced Leadership and Coaching from the Berkeley-Haas Center for Executive Education. He was a lecturer of Leadership Communications at the UC Berkeley-Haas School of Business from 2014-2017 and today runs his own executive coaching firm.
Luis speaks English and Spanish, both with native proficiency.
Viewing physical conditioning as the bedrock for personal growth, when he isn’t busy guiding clients, Luis travels the world to surf, climb, and mountaineer.