Meet Our Advisor Team

All top-tier MBAs with professional writing and coaching in their background as well as 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. To ensure they're able to give their all to clients, they work with no more than 6 clients at a time; many work with only 1-3. Senior Advisors have been with us for 5+ years. Some have been in admissions consulting for 20+ years.



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.

Kathryn Lucas, Founder

In 2009 I founded Square One Prep, which has partnered with 1,200+ clients and is unlike any other firm. I know, I know…all companies make that claim. Let me try to explain how we are different at our core; it starts with me.

I still know the name of every former client. I can tell you where they were from, what their career goals were, what school they chose, and a personal story about each of them. You see, Square One isn’t just a company to me. It’s what I’ve devoted my life to for the last 14 years. That dedication leads me to be remarkably committed to clients, even before they’re clients.

For example, when you request a free consult, I'll reply, and typically within minutes. Yes, I’m busy, but you matter. So I won't require you to pass some criteria for me to give you time. During your free consult, I won’t try to sell Square One to you. I'll try to get to know you. I’ll talk with you for 90 minutes when the call is scheduled for 30. I'll tell you the truth about your candidacy, based on Square One’s empirical data, team knowledge, and discussions with current admissions officers. What I say may align with what you want to hear or lead you to want to throw your phone and end the call! But you'll know you can trust that I am offering you well-intentioned candor. I’ll even send you a day-by-day graphic schedule explaining how to build your applications with the time you have – whether you’re keen to work with us or not, or aiming to apply to 2 schools, or 12 (please don’t apply to 12!). I want to go to bed each night with peace of mind, knowing I've done all I can each day to help others have peace of mind as they embark on this peace-thieving process. I’m honored when people like you entrust me, along with my unparalleled Square One team, to help you realize your business school dreams.

So that’s just a little information about who we are at our core. We’re not like any other firm. By the way, neither are our services or team! But before I digress even more, let me get back to my bio.

With a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Auburn University, after which I practiced architecture for seven years, and an MBA from Wharton, I ventured into MBA Admissions in 2003 when I became a GMAT preparation consultant at Veritas Prep. Later that year, I joined Forest City Ratner in NYC to help manage the development of Atlantic Yards/Barclays Center, a $4 billion, 7 million square foot project. In 2007, I left the world of development to write a book, It Is What It Is, published in July 2008. Inspired by how my book motivated people to introspect, face challenges, and dream big, I then re-joined Veritas Prep as an MBA admissions advisor. Not long after, realizing that my approach to partnering with applicants was distinct and unusually successful, I started Square One. Like many of you today, I was at square one with redefining the trajectory of my career.

I’ve grown Square One very carefully, never prioritizing revenue. Instead, I’ve focused on client feedback and our track record, each year offering clients more.

Thrilled to have personally guided 220 clients, with a success rate of 97%, these days, while i do still partner with 5-6 clients per year, I focus more on participating in PREMIUM service partnerships, which enables me to help many more people move from square one to a top business school.

When I follow the slogan on our home page - take a deep breath and relax, I enjoy practicing yoga, traveling, trying to learn French, having a love-hate relationship with running. and exploring artists in the electronic music space.

Cristina Castellano, Partnership Manager

For over 20 years, I have been helping students gain admission into top undergraduate and graduate programs. A Harvard graduate and Wharton MBA, I deem education as the great equalizer and feel that no applicant should face a disadvantage in the admissions process because of unfamiliarity with the process or lack of mentorship.

I earned my AB in Economics from Harvard, where I was captain of the cheerleading team and a CityStep instructor. My senior year, I earned the Patrick Melendez award for my contributions to sports and the community. After graduation, I joined the world of investment banking in New York. Focusing on leveraged finance and private equity fundraising, I honed my attention to detail to help companies and sponsors communicate their track records, supporting over $5 billion in transactions and capital raised across the US and Latin America.

Prior to business school, I studied dance and reconnected with my community in South Florida. I was then accepted to Wharton, where I received the Howard Mitchell Fellowship, a two-year full tuition scholarship. I was also Co-President of Wharton’s Latin American Student Association (WHALASA), Wharton’s largest cultural and professional club, where I founded the mentorship initiative for applicants from the region.

I later returned to South Florida where I focus on admissions consulting. My ability to maneuver through various industries and geographies makes me exceptionally adept at connecting with clients from a multitude of backgrounds. I enjoy working with ‘traditional’ and unconventional applicants alike as every student has an authentic and compelling story waiting to be revealed.

In addition to work, I am passionate about the performing arts and am President of the Board of the International Ballet Festival of Miami. If I’m not sitting in the audience or peering through the wings backstage, I’m probably at home dancing with her family.

Wendy Bagdi-Durrua, Career Narrative Expert & Career Coach

I bring my passion for coaching and mentoring to all of my clients, helping them develop personally and professionally to achieve their goals of crafting career visions that excite them, and top MBA admissions committees and career management teams.

With corporate experience across finance and audit, marketing and customer experience strategy, client relationship management, investor relations, business development and program management, I offer a broad perspective to my clients. In addition to working for American Express, General Motors and PwC, I have worked with non-profit organizations and small businesses. Leveraging my expertise transitioning across organizations, industries and disciplines, I guide my clients to define their professional journey and vision in order to communicate their story in a thoughtful, authentic and credible way.

I graduated with an MBA from The Wharton School and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. I am a member of the Wharton MBA resume review team and participates in the Boston College mentorship program. I received my diploma in coaching from New York University.

When not coaching, advising or taking classes for my own development, I enjoy entertaining, travel and outdoor adventures and spending time with my husband, family and friends.

Horatiu Stefan, Career Narrative Expert & Career Coach

I am committed to helping my Square One clients reach their potential. I love helping them articulate their unique stories and personal brands in authentic, engaging ways. Beyond showcasing skills and experience, I guide clients to thoughtfully and strategically bring their passions, values, and goals to life in career narratives.

With a BA in Economics and Political Science from Swarthmore College / LSE and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, I have had extensive cross-industry and cross-functional international business experience. I've held various strategic, operating, and advisory roles with Fortune 500 multinationals and Silicon Valley startups including Deloitte, eBay, Mercedes-Benz, Samsung, Aetna, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Homejoy, and Serviz.

I have also been involved with MBA admissions consulting and MBA recruiting throughout my career. I played a key role in scaling Samsung’s MBA recruiting strategy at Top 10 MBA programs and most recently served as Associate Director of Career Development at the USC Marshall School of Business, where I guided a highly-diverse international student population through all things career planning and development. As a career strategist and coach, I provide graduates of top-tier MBA programs with expert guidance, along with advice and recommendations that are both pragmatic and personalized, on career and job search strategy, networking, personal branding, and interview preparation.

Fluent in Spanish, French, Italian, and Romanian, I live in an old loft in downtown Los Angeles, but my heart is in Tokyo…my ‘happy place’. When not enjoying chocolate, raspberries, medium-rare steak, or Trader Joe’s Key Lime pie, I'm working on a book of Tokyo street photographs or scouring the web for deals on Margiela kicks.

Kelsey Kephart, Former Admissions Officer

My admission career began at Columbia Business School where I spent three years on the admissions committee. In addition to reviewing applications and interviewing candidates, I oversaw the world-wide interview program, served as a waitlist manager, and managed dual degree programs for the Law, Medical, Dental, and Journalism schools.

Since my time at CBS, I have worked in finance, managing teams within hedge funds, global banks, and fintech firms. While I enjoy the fast pace and challenges of that work, nothing quite compares to the joy of being part of a young person’s journey to realize their dreams. So I rejoined the equally fast-paced and challenging industry of admissions, but on the other side of the fence as a former admissions officer, which allows me to work intimately with applicants. As the first person in my family to attend college, I understand how education can open doors and transform lives. I love applying my skills and insights to ensure every single line of my clients’ applications sound uniquely like them and speak to admissions committees at top business school.

When I'm not helping clients, I enjoy SCUBA diving, rock climbing, and archery. I hold a BA from Barnard College.