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. To ensure they are able to give their all to clients, they work with no more than 4 clients at a time; many work with only 1-2. Our advisors are why our success rate is what it is.
With both current and former top business school Career Management members as well as an award-winning author who was formally trained at Harvard and Columbia to build his 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 750+ 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 International Graduate Admissions Consultants). When she isn’t busy helping her clients manifest their career dreams, she enjoys practicing yoga, traveling, dancing, trying to learn French, training for half-marathons, and exploring artists in the electronic music space.
Aaron Aceves is Square One Prep’s Lead Creative Editor. Working alongside Kathryn, he ensures clients craft resumes and essays that make admissions committees lean in, yes, physically lean in, as they read the work because they’re moved by the words on the page.
Aaron brings a special lens to his role due to his life experiences and education. He was born to parents who never attended college, but because he spent most of his time buried in books, immersed in other worlds and other people's minds, he grew to believe vehemently in the power of storytelling and its ability to change the world. This belief led him to Harvard University.
Due to his keen interest in human behavior, Aaron concentrated on Psychology at Harvard and graduated in 2015. While there he served as an editor for The Harvard Crimson and received the Le Baron Russell Briggs Award from the English department for his short story, “Thai Food & Theoretical Physics.” The story was nominated by world-renowned novelist Jamaica Kincaid, who was his workshop leader. He also has an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University, where he was awarded the Writing Chair’s Fellowship, and taught with Columbia Artists/Teachers. He particularly enjoyed leading creative writing workshops at Marsha’s House, a homeless shelter for LGBTQ+ youth.
Aaron’s work has appeared in literary journals and magazines such as The Acentos Review and jmww, and his debut novel, 𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘐𝘴 𝘞𝘩𝘺 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘏𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘜𝘴, is scheduled to be released in 2022 from Simon & Schuster.
Before joining Square One Prep, Aaron spent several years at PA College Prep guiding students through the undergraduate admissions process. He relished helping them turn anecdotes about their lives into essays that captured them as fully dimensional humans with drive, passion, vulnerability, perspective, and an ability to make admissions committee members shed a tear, crack a smile, laugh, and–most importantly–extend offers! Aaron applies that same rigorous thoughtfulness with his work at Square One.
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, marketing and customer experience strategy, client relationship management, investor relations, business development and program 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. She received her diploma in coaching from New York University.
When not coaching, advising or taking classes for her own development, Wendy enjoys entertaining, travel and outdoor adventures and spending time with her husband, family and friends.
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.
Bailey Miller, a native Kansan, attended Kansas State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management with a minor in Business Administration.
Prior to becoming the Chief of Staff/Operations at Square One Prep, where she manages the advisor and career narrative expert teams to ensure they have daily (and at times minute-by-minute!) support they need to guide clients, Bailey was in the Private Club Management world where high, daily touchpoints with constituents and attention to detail were also key. Recruited directly out of school, Bailey joined the historic Tuxedo Club in Tuxedo Park, New York and, in 2015, moved to the beautiful Nantucket Island to work at the renowned Sankaty Head Golf Club. After a year of living on the island Bailey moved to New York City to oversee food & beverage and club operations at the prominent Union League Club.
Bailey is a past “K2 Summit” Legacy participant and served on the Club Managers Association of American (CMAA) Women in Club Management Council, CMAA Product Mentoring Council, Education Committee of the Metropolitan Chapter and Young Professionals Committee of the Club Managers of the City of New York Chapter. She has been a panelist at past CMAA World and Student conferences and has mentored many young managers in the Club Management industry.
Bailey currently resides in New Jersey and enjoys trying new restaurants, traveling, practicing yoga and running.
Jenny Han, our Business Manager, helps Bailey oversee Square One Prep’s operations, and is more than prepared to do it as a graduate from the US Military Academy at West Point where she studied Spanish and Business Management.
After graduating, Jenny served for five years in the Army as a Medical Service Corps Officer, where she deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In the United States, she served in Washington state and North Carolina as an operations officer, executive assistant, and human resources officer.
Since completing her military service, Jenny has worked in outside sales and support roles in recruiting, investment banking, and technology. First, she joined Tech Qualled, a training company that enables military veterans to transition into high-tech roles through its Launchpad Academy. As the Partner Success Manager there, she reinforced client relationships and expanded the network of companies interested in hiring from the program. After two years, she joined the boutique, Manhattan-based firm, Evercore, supporting the FinTech-focused team of investment bankers. Following that role, she worked as a Strategic Growth Account Executive at Twilio, a cloud-based customer engagement platform that allows companies to interact with their customers around the globe.
Jenny lives in New York City with her six-year-old son, Miles. In her spare time, she enjoys distance running, sewing, and exploring the basics of computer programming. She has a passion for travel, and has spent significant time in Brazil, Ecuador, France, and Spain.