Time to meet Catalyst’s SAT & ACT gurus!

But first, some of you may be wondering: “Why guru in lieu of tutor? Does it have something to do with Tibetan Buddhism?”

No, it has absolutely nothing to do with dharma, we promise!

We call our instructors gurus because the term guru – one who imparts great wisdom – sounds really impressive. (We, at Catalyst, believe in being honest.) But also, we call our instructors gurus because every instructor we hire must undergo a rigorous training process in order to teach our courses. Any SAT / ACT prep company can post an ad on Craig’s List to hire experienced tutors, but only Catalyst has the training methods and curriculum to turn them into gurus. Somewhere below is the guru who will be high-fiving your son or daughter after their score goes up 300 points!

Male gurus who refuse to have their photos on our website have photos of Fed Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke:

Photo of Ben Bernanke

Female gurus who refuse to have their photos on our website have photos of early twentieth century novelist and socialite, Edith Wharton:

Photo of Edith Wharton

And now, without further ado, your future guru!

Aaron grew up in Bakersfield, CA, and went to UC Santa Barbara where he majored in Political Science. A precocious entrepreneur and athlete, Aaron started his first business at age nine (Consolidated Lemonade Stands, LLC), was county champion in golf during high school, ran with the bulls in Pamplona, did not get gored, and now lives in Washington D.C., where he works for the House Armed Services Committee and tutors the SAT & ACT whenever someone is filibustering. He considers the most rewarding aspect of tutoring to be those "Aha!" moments all students have when they finally understand a difficult concept. (Congressmen never have these moments.)
Abigail grew up in Helena, Montana, and went to Dartmouth College where she double-majored in Environmental Science and Evolutionary Biology. After graduating, she spent eight weeks in Antarctica as part of a National Science Foundation team studying soil biochemistry. (Abigail estimates uttering "Brrrrr, it's cold!" 2,300 times during the eight week program.) To thaw out, Abigail headed to Oahu, Hawaii, where she taught 9th grade science through Teach For America.  After Hawaii, Abigail went to graduate school at Yale for a Masters in Environmental Management. She graduated in 2010 and now works as a Land Associate at the Peninsula Open Space Trust in Palo Alto, a private non-profit that conserves land for open space and public use. When she's not putting a smile on Al Gore's face, Abigail loves helping teenagers ace the SAT and ACT.
Adrian is a 2009 alumna of Wellesley College (school mascot: The Fighting Hillary Rodhams), where she majored in French and minored in math. While in college, she studied abroad for a year in France, and returned for one year following graduation to teach English to French children who will one day sniff "Hmmmph, New York is not quite as grand as I expected." When she's not teaching students all about subject-verb agreement and hypotenuses, Adrian loves learning foreign languages, writing, and spending time with friends. 
Alex graduated from UC Santa Cruz, where he majored in Biology and tutored classmates in biology, chemistry, and math. A die-hard Northern Californian, Alex considers working for Santa Monica-based Catalyst an act of betrayal, but likes our strategies too much to hang up his hat. Alex likes teaching the ACT more than the SAT and believes all students should give this test a shot, especially if they're better at math and science. When he's not teaching, he loves hiking, "speed-hiking" (we are not sure what this entails, but have some funny images in mind), and attempting to make homemade ravioli.
Alexandra spent her formative years in Wayland, MA, and stayed in snowy New England for college, majoring in International Relations at Bowdoin College. Alexandra enjoys tutoring because she likes explaining complex-seeming concepts in common sense ways, and wants students to experience having someone teach with them rather than at them. Alexandra is semi-fluent in Arabic, does a mean Cher impression, and likes spending her downtime cooking, practicing yoga, and hiking.
Alice graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in Drama.  She enjoys teaching students of all ages, from kindergarten through high school, and has tutored students through the No Child Left Behind Act in Los Angeles. When she's not teaching students how to ace the SAT and ACT or not be left behind, Alice is an actor and writer.  She wrote, produced, and starred in an award-winning web series and occasionally performs stand-up. (We promise, she is contractually prohibited from using her students' families as comedic fodder.)
Alicia graduated college with a B.A. in Literature and Japanese Studies and liked studying abroad in Japan so much that she decided to teach there for a year after graduation. She came back to upstate New York and began tutoring the SAT while earning her master’s degree in Adolescent English Education. Alicia's love of teaching has led her to work hither and yon, but she eventually decided New Jersey was most worthy of her vast knowledge of certain (possibly evil) standardized tests.
Allie recently graduated from the Monterey Institute of International Studies with a Master's in Public Administration and International Management. Prior to this, she studied International Relations and Asian Studies at Tulane University, where she developed an insatiable love for jambalaya. After college, Allie spent considerable time in China and also tutored high school students. Most recently, Allie has been coordinating conferences for international high school students journeying to the United States and enjoys facilitating workshops for foreign youth. Allie enjoys helping high school students learn the tricks for conquering the SAT and reducing test day anxiety
A totally different Allie was born and raised in Seattle and graduated with a B.A. in English from Brown University, where she also studied creative non-fiction. When she's not tutoring, Allie loves running in the Berkeley hills, writing poetry, and planning elaborate, occasionally fancy-shmancy dinner parties. Allie speaks conversational Italian and French (very handy for fancy-schmancy dinner parties) and once met Bill Cosby, whom she is proud to say laughed at one of her jokes. Prior to Catalyst, Allie honed her teaching chops by tutoring English Literature and Composition at San Quentin - yes, San Quentin Prison! - an experience that inspired her to become a teacher (and continue obeying the law).
One of Catalyst's most requested gurus, Amanda graduated from Hah-vahd (sometimes incorrectly pronounced "Harvard") in 2009, spent time in China and India after graduation, and has been teaching the SAT and ACT for three years. During college, Amanda spent her summers working as a camp counselor, and loves working with high schools students because she enjoys making the learning process as dynamic as possible. Amanda works for a strategy consulting firm in Washington D.C. and believes tutoring keeps her sane and grounded - and provides her with a much-appreciated weekly dose of high school drama.
An entirely different Amanda graduated from the University of Washington with degrees in Conservation Biology and Anthropology. Along with her SAT and ACT tutoring, she's taught math and reading at an after-school program and worked at a refugee center in South Africa. She loves teaching the SAT because: A) she likes helping students get through this part of the college application process with as little stress as possible and B) thinks the SAT has it coming. When she's not teaching students shortcuts for the math portion of the SAT, Amanda enjoys reading (especially Gabriel García Márquez), bungee jumping (!), swimming among Great White sharks (!!), and re-watching The Princess Bride (no exclamation points necessary).
Andrea is currently a junior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she is studying human biology and child nutrition. (If she's tutoring your son or daughter, hide the Doritos!) Andrea grew up in Amador County, CA, and graduated at the top of her class from adventurously-named Argonaut High School. She loves tutoring because when she was in high school she didn't have the resources that Catalyst provides. Besides academics, Andrea enjoys relaxing on the beach, reading, and spending time with friends.
Andrea is originally from Knoxville, TN, and recently earned a B.A. in Political Science and History from Vanderbilt. Don’t let her Southern charm fool you, though; she is a fierce political debater (and purportedly the reason James Carville went bald). When she’s not knocking heads with her fists of rhetoric, Andrea spends a lot of time outdoors kayaking and gardening. She’s been known to read John Stuart Mill “just for fun,” but also really enjoys the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series. Andrea has a dangerous affinity for brown rice and SAT test prep strategies.
Originally from Westchester, New York, Andrew graduated from Harvard, where he double-majored in Linguistics and Musicology, minoring in Carrying A Tune. He is currently putting his education to good use pursuing a career as a professional clarinetist. Thankfully, his work as a Catalyst tutor has given some purpose to the many syntax trees he drew as an undergraduate and has allowed him to share his love of grammar. Besides music and language, Andrew's interests include running and yoga.
A Texas refugee whom Tom Hanks once described as having "dangerous taste," Andrew #2 studied theatre, art history, and political science at Sarah Lawrence College, then swapped New York for Los Angeles to pursue an MFA in screenwriting at the University of Southern California. Andrew was a two-time Texas state debate champion in high school (his rebuttal to Kansas City-style ribs blew away the judges), and enjoys tutoring, a process he describes as "cerebrum-enhancement." When he isn't helping students forge new synapses, Andrew enjoys watching old movies, hiking, camping, writing, and blogging about theme park attractions.
Andy, a Southern California native, went to the University of Southern California, where he studied Classics and graduated with his BA in 2008. Aside from enjoying the odd Trojan football game (mostly for its parallels to Homer’s Iliad), Andy was involved in two rigorous honors programs, one of which was begun by George Lucas (who borrowed liberally from The Iliad). After a year of intensive language study, he went to Oxford University, where he recently completed his Masters in Egyptology. (Ask him sometime about his work on the Tutankhamun excavation journals!) Andy was recently admitted to the PhD program at Yale University to study Classics and Ancient History, but elected to defer for the year in order to spend time teaching and helping motivated young people reach their goals of doing well on the SAT and ACT! When he isn’t learning obscure dead languages, Andy spends time training for triathlons, traveling, and writing. He’s even working on an adaptation of a Late Egyptian text to be produced as a play at the Getty Villa! It will be hilarious.
Antinea graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in Microbial Biology - a.k.a "Cooties" - and works as a Quality Control Analyst in the microbiology lab at Baxter Healthcare. On weekend, Antinea tutors, spends time with family and friends, and tries to find time to play golf. Even though it takes her away from her beloved lab, Antinea enjoys teaching the SAT and ACT because she finds it gratifying to help students get that "click" when all the strategies and information finally come together. She also likes brainstorming fun, creative ways to get students to retain challenging concepts. Antinea's nickname "Tino" comes from her brother, who couldn't pronounce Antinea and kept calling her Tino, until everyone else started calling her Tino, too. (Curiously, he then started pronouncing Antinea flawlessly.) Tino's friends claim she laughs at everything - a trait she's proud of, especially since people who find humor in everday situations and laugh a lot have been proven to live longer. (Scientists have yet to establish a correlation between texting LOL and longevity.)
Antonia grew up in Verona, NJ, went on to Georgetown University (where she majored in Finance and minored in English), and then moved on to law school at Duke University. After practicing law for four years in Raleigh, NC, Antonia moved back to Jersey to be close to family. She is currently learning Italian solely to understand the conversation between Michael Corleone and Sollozzo in the restaurant scene. Antonia wants students to feel as empowered as Don Corleone when taking the SAT, as though they have test strategies (figuratively) taped behind a water tank in the bathroom stall.
Anya grew up in Pittsburgh and graduated from Brandeis University, where she majored in International and Global Studies. Anya has taught at an elementary school in San Jose and enjoys teaching the SAT because she likes helping students feel confident walking into "big, scary tests." When she's not boosting students' test-taking self-esteem, Anya enjoys swimming, hiking, biking, camping, and generally any activity that looks like it could take place in an Allegra commercial.
Arman is currently finishing up a double major in Business Economics and Criminology, Law & Society at UC Irvine. He is a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, which was nearly kicked off campus for rigorous academic hazing. (They forced their pledges to take standardized tests once a week.) Just kidding. Kappa Sig is a law-abiding, philanthropy-focused brotherhood, which has afforded Arman the opportunity to make some lifelong friends and do some great charity work. But even just the notion of SAT/ACT-related hazing has inspired Arman to protect students with the indestructible armor of Catalyst strategies. Recently, he received a phone call and heard nothing but frenzied shouting on the other end. He responded by saying “I swear, I sent my rent check in on the first!” but it turns out it was just an ecstatic student who had raised his ACT score by five points.
Ashley recently graduated from UC Davis with a double major in Psychology and History. She has been tutoring the SAT, ACT, and a whole bunch of other acronyms for over four years, since her freshman year at Davis, and is currently applying to graduate school. More than anything else, she enjoys helping students overcome their completely unnecessary fear of the SAT.
Ashley grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and studied Journalism at the University of Miami (school motto: "Scandal Free Since '92!"). She is currently pursuing a Master's in Secondary Education and enjoys teaching for Catalyst because she firmly believes learning should not be torture. In her free time, Ashley enjoys baking, trying out new recipes (particularly new recipes for cupcakes), and traveling.
After earning very high scores on both the SAT and ACT, Bailey went on to study at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she earned both a BS and an ME in engineering. She then moved to fabulous Irvine, CA, to accept a full-time engineering position. On the weekends, she works as a Catalyst tutor, both for the pleasure of enhancing young minds and because it’s a great way to chip away at the typical engineer’s mountain of student loans. Bailey has a brilliant mind, a bubbly personality, and loves travel and photography (and travel photography).
Becca holds a BA in English and Religious Studies from UC Davis and a Master's from Claremont Graduate University. She has extensive experience in outdoor education (see the high-altitude photo on the left), and has spent a lot of time developing training manuals for mountaineering programs.  (Catalyst is currently conducting consumer studies to see if there's a market for prepping students to become sherpas, and will be using Becca to jumpstart this revenue stream if so.) Before Catalyst, Becca worked as a substitute teacher, which was excellent training for making virtually any topic exciting to high school students. She likes tutoring the SAT & ACT because she enjoys helping students meet their goals and gets just as excited about their success as they do.
Becky grew up in San Diego. She earned a BS in Psychobiology from UCLA and a juris doctor from the University of San Diego. In addition to helping a host of students as Catalyst Test Guru, she is currently working toward a career as a child advocate. Becky loves biking, running, cooking, playing guitar, and adventurous travel. (She’s been to Taiwan, China, Singapore, and recently went skydiving for the first time.) The only thing she doesn’t love about travel is occasionally having to go without a decent cup of coffee. Becky has a serious coffee habit.
After growing up in Denver's picturesque 'burbs, Beebe headed East to a quaint little hamlet called New York City, where she pursued a Bachelor in Fine Arts from NYU's Tisch School, the alma mater of many famous performers including Debra Messing, Billy Crudup, Christopher Guest, and Lady Gaga, none of whom have returned our calls about tutoring for Catalyst. After college, Beebe headed west, all the way to Oakland, CA, a city she loves for its eclectic culture and proximity to nature. Beebe teaches because she's a people person (or a "teenage people person") and loves the performance aspect of our Bootcamps, proving to students that SAT prep doesn't have to be dull. When she's not guru-ing, Beebe teaches yoga and bakes - her specialty is carrot cake - and hikes in the hills near Oakland with her husband.
Benjamin is currently a junior at UCLA studying Economics and Environmental Studies. He has tutored both math and English for the last three years, and has thoroughly enjoyed helping students boost their GPAs and SAT sores. In college, he is a sports talk show host on UCLA Radio and plays intramural basketball, football, soccer, and volleyball. (Benjamin is one of those lucky people who got to be smart and athletic.)  
Originally from Seattle, Beth graduated from Dartmouth in 2008 with a degree in French Literature and hopes to one day make it all the way through Remembrance of Things Past. (That was a really bad Marcel Proust joke, for you non-French Literature folks.) Beth has been tutoring for Catalyst for three years, during which time she has also taken calligraphy classes at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. (Her notes on your student's essays will be both insightful and elegant.) Beth relishes the opportunity to even the score with the SAT's math section, which deprived her of a perfect 1600 back in high school. (She missed one question on the entire test - an SAT geometry question - and has suffered recurring nightmares involving dodecahedrons ever since.) In a few years, Beth plans to get a PhD in French and travel to Asia to study Chinese calligraphy and eat some terrific dim sum.
Bobbie graduated summa cum laude from Drew University with her B.A. in Political Science and her M.A. in Teaching. (We believe these were also Aristotle’s degrees.) She currently teaches history at an alternative high school in South Jersey. She loves to travel and spent a year teaching at a school for Sudanese refugees in Cairo, Egypt. Bobbie loves spending time with her nephews, molding young minds, and volunteering in the community. Her goal is to one day open a charter school for at-risk teens.
Bradley grew up in Houston, Texas, and graduated from UT (Go, Longhorns!) with a BA in Theatre and a Business minor. In his youth, Bradley was both a fun-loving kid and a model student, serving as an Eagle Scout, earning 5s on both the Calculus I and Calculus II AP tests, and winning the Ranatra Fusca Creativity Award in the Odyssey of the Mind competition. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, where he chairs a local organization for displaced Texans (the LA Texas Exes). His hobbies include hanging out with his wife and playing video games, sports, and word and puzzle games. (He is consistently voted Catalyst Guru Most Likely to Meet Will Shortz.) Bradley is friendly, funny, down-to-Earth, and firmly believes that mastering standardized tests can actually be kind of enjoyable – in short, he’s the essence of a Catalyst Guru. FUN FACT: His car’s name is “Ekkyklema,” which is an ancient Greek term for a wheeled cart used to move props and set pieces onto a stage. (Bradley is a true theater geek.)
A native Angeleno, Brent attended Viewpoint High School in Calabasas, where he played baseball, narrowly survived a rigorous academic schedule, and participated in beach clean-ups. After Viewpoint, Brent headed ninety miles south to UC San Diego, where he majored in Anthropology and minored in Sociology while indulging an array of other academic interests, including biology and cognitive science. Brent even completed an honors thesis on the inhabitants of Fiji, a research project that called for him to take numerous exhausting trips to the tropical island. Brent enjoys SAT & ACT guru-dom because he likes teaching students strategies to solve difficult problems on their own.
Brian (shown here with beard, but also available clean-shaven) graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2010 with a bachelor's in Business Economics and Music. Brian is a former student of Catalyst Founder Jared Friedland, who helped Brian master the SAT and was subsequently adopted by his parents, Cheryl and Howard. One of Catalyst's most coveted gurus, Brian has taught numerous SAT Bootcamps and quite possibly a few hundred private students at this point; we're not going to lie - the man is quite in demand. Brian cites the ongoing challenge of teaching students how to ace the SAT and ACT as his favorite aspect of tutoring and would like us to say he's met "some pretty incredible kids."
Brian from St. Louis graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a B.S. in Economics (we could make a very obvious joke here), and enjoys tutoring because it's fun to help students crack tricky questions under pressure. When he's not helping students strategize, Brian loves rowing, cycling, hiking, and many other gerunds that can be done outdoors.
Bryant is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Teaching at the University of Southern California. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Political Science and left feeling confident that he wanted to pursue a career in education. This past spring, he was a student teacher in 8th grade U.S. history and will be teaching 11th grade U.S. history in the fall. He loves tutoring because of his passion for education - and yes, that is "The Most Interesting Man In The World" (from the Dos Equis commercials) on his right in the photo.
Cailey was raised in the desert of Arizona and is now pursuing a B.A. in Psychology and Pre-Medicine at The George Washington University. When she is not studying for long hours, making smoothies at an on-campus cafe, practicing her DJ skills, or tutoring for Catalyst, she enjoys planning medical service trips to developing countries. As she hopes to one day be a pediatrician, she will be leaving for Honduras at the end of the school year to help children at a mobile clinic, but not before saving the hundreds of young adults here at home from the deadly SAT!
Cecile graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she tutored student athletes in geography (first lesson: East is that-a-way) and assisted teachers in low-income schools through a program called Learn N.C. In addition to her SAT & ACT prep guru-dom, Cecile is a freelance editor and writer with a background in proofreading textbooks and creating academic material. She enjoys tutoring because it gives Generation X a chance to give back to Generation Y.
Chad graduated from M.I.T, where he majored in Chemical Engineering and played college volleyball alongside classmates who wrote mathematical equations to describe the arc of their serves. (Note to high school volleyball players: this did not intimidate their opponents.) After graduating in '07, Chad moved to Pasadena to teach at Cal Tech, where he is an assistant professor in several courses we could name if doing so didn't cause smoke to come out of our ears. Chad loves teaching the verbal side of the SAT as much as math - perhaps even more so because it doesn't come as naturally to him. When he's not explaining SAT grammar, he loves heading from Pasadena to the beach, where he is known as that "lanky Cal Tech dude" on the sands of Santa Monica.
Charles is a native of North Dakota, which is Sioux for “large patch of land near Canada.” After earning his B.A. in History, Charles moved to Seoul, South Korea, where he taught English at a public middle school and developed a love for Seoul music. (Marvin Gaye is his favorite, but he’s also really into Sam Cooke and Otis Redding.) Charles is currently working toward his master’s degree in computer engineering. He spends a lot of time studying math, < writing >/< code >, and helping students < de >/< code > the < SATs >.
Charlie (shown on the left, being a good, congratulatory big brother) graduated from Yale University in 2008 and promptly moved to LA. After tutoring for three years, he decided to apply his legendary standardized test-taking skills to the LSAT, racked up a near perfect score, and was accepted by NYU law school, where he will begin learning the finer points of billing $350 per hour this fall. Charlie enjoys tutoring because he likes helping students move on to the next, exciting phase of their lives. He would also like to add that his sister is the first ever student he tutored - and look at her now!
Chelsea graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a BS in Biology and is working toward a Masters in International Health from Boston University. After earning her Masters, she plans to shout "Woo-hoo," have an amazing celebration with family and friends, and then attend medical school to become an anesthesiologist.  (She is already practicing saying, "In just a minute, you're going to start feeling sleeeeepy.") Chelsea has been tutoring the SAT and ACT for years and has an incredible track record at boosting student's scores.
Chris is a veteran physics teacher with a B.A. in - are you ready for this - physics! In addition to teaching students about general relativity, Chris tutors the SAT & ACT because he believes in making tricky subjects accessible. When he's not teaching, Chris likes playing basketball, reading, writing and listening to virtually all kinds of music. Chris is also quite the accomplished traveler. His wanderlust has taken him to six continents, an odyssey that includes summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro, camping on the Serengheti, hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and eating amazing linguine in the shadow of St. Peters in Rome.
Christina started growing up in Hawaii and finished growing up in a tiny California mountain town called Tehachapi. (The surfing was better in Hawaii.) She got her B.A. in English “a very long time ago, when the Earth was young,” and graduated from a law school just a few months ago. Christina has tutored and taught for many years at many levels – she’s also been a newspaper reporter and a taxi cab driver, to name just a couple of her many career adventures – but SAT/ACT test prep remains her very favorite thing to tutor, because it’s “more like teaching the rules to a secret game. It’s sort of my way of getting back at the makers of the SAT, CBEST, LSAT, California Bar Exam, and any other test writers who have tried to torture me over the years.” We at Catalyst are very pleased to channel Christina’s relentless thirst for retribution to such positive ends.
Cornell (CJ) grew up as a military brat, changing homes every two years from Florida to Japan to Texas and so on. He eventually settled in Maryland and now studies Liberal Arts at St. John's College in Annapolis. Cornell has contributed so much to the world of academics, he has an Ivy League University named after him. So, to avoid confusion, Cornell goes by the nickname CJ. CJ has been tutoring math and English for five years and is really excited to join Catalyst Prep in helping students conquer the SAT. His extracurricular interests include photography, sailing, longboarding, and feeding animals at the zoo.
The son of a teacher for a mother and a motorcycle-riding IRS agent for a father ("Hell's Auditors"), Cory went to college in Wilmington, North Carolina where he accomplished the unlikely feat of graduating with two majors in four years. Since college he has written, produced, and performed in two feature-length films, one about the mythical Back To The Future Part IV and the other about a fictional location in which the entire U.S. is condensed into a town of one thousand people. In addition to his film endeavors and Catalyst SAT & ACT guru-dom, Cory works with an arts education company, Story Pirates, which transforms stories written by kids into plays. Cory loves teaching the SAT/ACT because it gives him an opportunity to learn collaboratively along with his students.
Dan comes to Southern California by way of Fairfax, Virginia, and has a background in teaching acting and improvisation to middle and high school students. He enjoys academic subjects and creative pursuits equally, which is why he works for Catalyst. When he's not busy teaching students how to ace the SAT and ACT, Dan enjoys reading, writing and exploring his adopted hometown of Los Angeles.
A second Dan graduated from Rutgers University with a BS in Computer and Electrical Engineering. While a student, he helped design autonomous systems for underwater robots at Lockheed Martin, co-developed RULost (the Rutgers University iPhone App), and co-founded his university’s Robotics team. A lover of both mathematics and the English language, Dan occasionally writes freelance articles for Blast Magazine and The Escapist. In addition to tutoring for Catalyst, Dan is also working on engineering the Robotic SAT Tutors that will eventually replace us all.
(British) Dan hails from Southern England and—surprise, surprise—possesses a lively Wildean wit and loves “footy” (soccer). Don’t worry, he’s the rare, non-violent type of soccer hooligan and, to our knowledge, has not set fire to any Manchester United fans. But he does have hooligan-like energy when it comes to helping students conquer standardized tests. Dan is an extremely cosmopolitan Guru, drawing from his teaching experiences in England, Thailand, India, and the U.S., and he prides himself on his ability to relate to students from diverse backgrounds and with varying skill sets.
(American) Dan was born in Chula Vista, CA, and remembers being able to see Tijuana from a hill near where he grew up. (He tried to run away from home once, but was stopped promptly by Border Patrol.) After graduating cum laude from Westmont College with a B.A. in History and a minor in Religious Studies, Dan headed for Lake Havasu City, AZ (known for its questionably relocated London Bridge and for hosting MTV Spring Break). Dan moved to New Jersey where he earned a Master of Divinity from the Princeton Theological Seminary and then joined Teach for America in Philadelphia. Dan loves teaching SAT strategies because he knows a strong SAT score can help students excel in the future (even if the test itself doesn’t necessarily measure a love of learning and thinking).
Daniel grew up in Cherry Hill, NJ, and graduated from Yale with a double major in English and Theater Studies. Daniel remembers how demanding studying for the SAT was during his own high school days, and strives to make his students expert test-takers without adding to the stress to their lives. Now for the shocking news about Dan: he's one of the very few Americans - perhaps very few human beings - who doesn't like chocolate. Yes, you read that last part right: the man does not like chocolate. He hasn't had the delectable substance since he was four, when he tried a chocolate donut and chocolate milk and hated both. Ironically - we are not making this up - Dan's grandfather worked for Hershey for 35 years - three-and-a-half decades in which not a single chocolate kiss was accepted by his grandson. At Yale, Dan participated in an a cappella group called the Yale Alley Cats, a group that toured around the world two months of each year. The Yale Alley Cats recorded an album with a Grammy Award-winning music producer and sang motown and jazz songs, with a few blues numbers about being stuck with the acronym YAC.
Daniel was born in the USSR during the final days of Soviet rule, but spent most of his first ten years in California’s North Bay Area. Then he made the long trek all the way to the South Bay Area, where he lived until college. He graduated from UC Davis in 2011 with B.A./B.S. double major in Art Studio/Astrophysics. (FACT: This was also Leonardo da Vinci’s double major.) His diverse studies also took him to UC Berkeley, Italy, and the New York Studio School. Perhaps out of a love of the long tradition of artist apprenticeship, Daniel is a deep believer in the magic of one-on-one tutoring. When he’s not inspiring young minds, Daniel likes to paint, read, ski, backpack, rock climb, practice martial arts (he has a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do), and travel. He’s been lucky to visit just about every world-class art museum in the Western World, eats a ton of burritos, and can still kind of do the splits. He’s consistently voted the Catalyst Guru Mostly Likely to Engage in a National Treasure-Style International Mystery Adventure.
Born and raised in the Bay Area, Danny later attended Berkeley and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Graphic Communication. (He’s had to explain to Catalyst colleagues on more than one occasion that “Graphic Communication” is the conveyance of ideas and information through images and design, and not the study of obscene text messages.) Danny is a Renaissance Guru with talents in many fields. First and foremost, he’s a singer/songwriter with over ten years of recording experience. (We celebrate him most for such hits as The Long and Winding SAT, Stairway to High Scores, and Bridge over Troubled Equations.) Danny also sculpts, paints, makes collages, crafts digital design, and most recently has taken up a project as a comic book writer. Sheesh, what doesn’t he do?
Dave earned a BS in Secondary Education at Temple University and an MS in Instructional Technology at Lehigh University. He was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and can be found coaching tennis when he isn't helping students master the SAT and ACT.
A different Dave spent his formative years, as well as the rest of them, in sunny South Jersey, except for a four-year stint where he traveled twenty miles west to Villanova University. After graduating with degrees in History and Secondary Education, Dave joined the Catalyst team as an SAT / ACT Guru. He enjoys tutoring because he loves seeing students game the system and find ways to subvert the work the College Board cabal who made his life miserable not so long ago. When he’s not turning pupils into an "Ocean’s 11"-esque squad of test-taking dynamos or tutoring other AP subjects, Dave enjoys reading comics and writing pop culture commentary on the finer points of Harry Potter. He is a Gryffindor, but he can definitely relate to the Hufflepuffs.
David grew up on a farm in rural Wisconsin in a town of 1,431 people. He got his start in education by teaching the cows algebra. (Just kidding, but that would be awesome, right?) He majored in Spanish & Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, and then completed a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “Teaching is something I just do,” says David, admitting, “I can’t turn it off sometimes.” He loves small group and one-on-one education is best of all, because he can tailor the process to the individual and give each student the personal attention they deserve. When he’s not bringing his teaching gifts to the Catalyst curriculum, David enjoys practicing martial arts acrobatics (also known as XMA). As he says, “Flipping around and throwing spin kicks never gets repetitive.” He once proudly executed a full backflip (while wearing a two-foot hat) during a college marching band performance. If you ask him really nicely, he’ll show you one of his fight team’s videos on YouTube.
An accomplished teacher and actor who came this close to being hired by The Blue Man Group, Derek earned his B.A. in philosophy from the University of Washington and his M.F.A. from Harvard. He spent his formative years in Port Orchard, WA, a small, Twilight-like town just across from Puget Sound. When he's not busy appreciating Los Angeles's non-rainy weather, Derek enjoys practicing the mandolin (he claims to need a lot of practice) and playing board games, the more obscure the better. Derek loves teaching for Catalyst because we make SAT prep "cool, interesting and awesome."
Don graduated from Yale University in 2006, earned a master's degree at National University of Singapore as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, and was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Vietnam. While an undergrad at Yale, he served as a tutor with the America Reads program in New Haven's public schools. When he's not helping students clobber the SAT and ACT, Don loves reading, traveling, and 80s movies, including his favorite, Rocky IV.
Dorian graduated from UC Berkeley with a major in Philosophy and went on to earn an MFA at the highly-prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop. He grew up in the "mammoth suburbs" of Dallas-Forth Worth and has done quite a bit of tutoring in New York City. When he's not reassuring Upper East Side kids they can still run a hedgefund one day even if they don't get an 800 in SAT math, Dorian enjoys training for marathons, caring for his pet ferret, and peanut butter n' jelly sandwiches. (He claims to average 1.2 PB n' J's per day.)
For most of his life, Doug has been tutoring one subject or another - algebra, German, computer science, linguistics, and now the SAT and ACT for Catalyst. Doug graduated from Northwestern University and loves sparking an interest in education in young people. In addition to his work as an SAT & ACT guru, Doug runs the analysis group at an academic software company outside of Philadelphia. He and his wife are the proud owners of two dogs: Limerick & Sonnet.
Eddie grew up in Orange County and earned a scholarship to UCLA because his high school days were nothing like those portrayed on "The O.C." He earned a B.A. in anthropology and enjoys tutoring because it's wonderful seeing students become more self-assured test-takers. When he's not helping students march into the SAT confident they know every trick in the book, Eddie enjoys taking care of his pets (at various times in his life he's had a turtle, a hamster, a rabbit, a bird, a few goldfish, and five dogs), cooking Korean BBQ for family and friends, snowboarding, playing acoustic guitar, and poker.
Eileen recently relocated to San Francisco from the land of jazz and crawfish, N'awlins.  Since graduating cum laude from Boston University with a degree in Environmental Science, she has traveled to nine different countries on three different continents. Having previously taught students how to tag a sea turtle, differentiate between species of larval shrimp, and determine the origin of a salmon, she is excited to teach high school juniors and seniors how to ace the SAT and ACT!
Elisa majored in History at UC Santa Cruz and pursued a Doctorate in History at Brown University, just in case those Ivy League folks had a different take on things. She grew up in California's capital, Sacramento, and loves guru-ing for Catalyst because she likes students to enjoy the process of meeting their educational goals. When she's not helping students wage war with the SAT or ACT, Elisa enjoys anything that takes place outdoors; she spent her post-dissertation vacation backpacking part of the Appalachian Trail and spent eighteen months interviewing farm workers in Russia. Elisa also loves yoga and dance and once bartended at a New Age health resort on a beach in Thailand.
Emery (pictured here in black-and-white, but also available in color) recently graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Political Science and an emphasis in International Relations. She recalls high school as a period when SATs, ACTs, and APs infringed on her sleep, and believes she would have gotten a lot more rest if Catalyst had been around back then. (Emery: as soon as those NASA folks get off their duffs and figure out how to bend the space-time continuum, you got it!) Emery loves guru-ing for Catalyst and believes all students are capable of rocking the SAT.
Emily recently graduated from U.C. Berkeley (go Bears!), where she studied everything from Engineering to English and ended up with a degree in Social Welfare. She did "a ton" of tutoring at Cal, teaching subjects from phonics to math to resume enhancement (which sounds a lot better than padding). After graduation, Emily traveled to Mozambique and China to work with youth before returning to the United States to help good ol' American teenagers outsmart the SAT and ACT.
Catalyst Guru Emily earned her BA from UC Santa Barbara with a major in Psychology and a minor in Women’s Studies. She then earned her Masters in Counseling with a Pupil Personnel Services credential from California State Long Beach. After working for two years as a school counselor, she helped open the Animo Watts Charter High School and served as Assistant Principal from 2007-2010. In addition to tutoring, Emily has returned to school to continue her counseling education. She loves helping students with personal, social, academic, and career issues, and brings to the Catalyst team extensive experience as both a PSAT and SAT tutor. Emily is a child of the 80s, so don’t be surprised if you see her wearing Swatch watches and Ray Bans. Her motto is: “If you have a problem, yo, I’ll solve it.“
Emma grew up in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where she had a wonderful childhood collecting chicken eggs, devouring Nancy Drew mysteries, and raising Cecropia moths with her entomologist father. At seventeen, Emma swapped Arkansas's Ozark Mountains for Massachusett's Berkshire Mountains, where she matriculated (Latin for "spent $40,000 per year") at Williams College. During college, Emma worked as a faculty-selected Writing Workshop tutor, co-chaired the ESL wing of the Writing Workshop, and assisted two classes, endeavors that made her realize how much she loves teaching, problem-solving, and helping others to express themselves. Emma also traveled to Paris to reproduce paintings in the Louvre, spent a year at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and worked with a curator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. After graduating with Highest Honors, Emma received a post-graduate Hubbard Hutchinson Fellowship, awarded to students who can say "post-graduate Hubbard Hutchinson Fellowship" three times fast without tripping up. When she's not helping students master the fine art (sorry for the pun, Emma) of acing the SAT, she teaches classes at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop and follows in her scientist father's footsteps by studying strange animals. Her favorites are the pangolin, the echidna, and the Mekong giant catfish, all of which we will be momentarily looking up on Wikipedia.
Eric graduated from Rutgers University with high honors, and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Occupational Therapy at Kean University. Not content merely to tutor the SAT and ACT, Eric has taught the GRE and is even currently teaching the HESI, the nursing school entrance exam, at a local college. (Common HESI question: Which is better to say to jittery patients - "This will only hurt for a second" or "You're just gonna feel a little pinch"?) Eric enjoys tutoring high school students because of the unique challenge each student provides. Also, the SAT made his life completely miserable back in high school, and it's time for payback.
Eric recently graduated from UCLA where he majored in Molecular Genetics and minored in Global Studies. He claims he’ll be using his knowledge in these fields to apply to medical school and eventually fight disease and pandemic ... but don’t those fields of study seem more geared toward world domination? (He’s probably hatching armies of cloned mini-Erics as we speak.) To divert attention away from his diabolical schemes, Eric did a lot of fun and philanthropic activities in college. He competed in intercollegiate water-skiing, worked full-time in a mental health clinic, tutored for the athletics department, and briefly studied abroad in Shanghai, China. We’re keeping a close eye on you, Eric.
Erica graduated at the top of her class from Susan E. Wagner High School in Staten Island, graduated from Rice University on a full-academic scholarship, and has since moved back to New York City (albeit to a different borough), where she works as a management consultant and weekend SAT guru. (We are pretty sure this weekend transformation involves donning spandex tights and a cape, but don't want to give away Erica's secrets.) When she's not guru-ing, Erica likes to see movies, go bowling, and play tennis in Central Park. ($17, $85, and $160 respectively in Manhattan.)
Evan began teaching during his undergraduate days at Boston College.  He led drama classes for kids at summer camps across throughout Boston and graduated from UC San Diego with an MFA in 2010.  He was fortunate to teach Public Speaking and Acting classes to his fellow undergrads at Boston College and began teaching the SAT in 2008 - and has enjoyed it ever since! (Evan is fairly laid back - as long as he has access to In N' Out Burger and iced coffee, he can't complain.) Evan truly enjoys being a tutor because of those exhilarating moments when students experience breakthroughs.
Francis is a 2008 graduate of Grinnell, an outstanding small liberal arts college, where he majored in Philosophy and German. (We could make a Ludwig Wittgenstein joke here, but we already cracked a Marcel Proust joke earlier and think we're about maxed out on snooty academic references.) After college, Francis spent two years as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching English and studying in Vienna, Austria. Francis was one of Catalyst's most requested gurus in New Jersey and is now in the process of moving to San Francisco, where he's excited to continue fostering achievement with students in the Bay.
Glen majored in Philosophy at UCLA and can assure you that sitting in traffic on the 405 freeway is not an a priori experience. (That was a really cheesy joke for you non-Southern California, non-philosophy folks.) Glen loves tutoring the SAT, especially Critical Reading, because there's a certain moment all students experience when confusing reading passages suddenly make sense. (He also likes teaching students the definitions to obscure SAT vocab words like pulchritudinous.) Glen grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from Harvard-Westlake, and scoots around town on a black Vespa. He is contemplating starting a rough-riding SAT tutorscooter gang, if he can come up with a cool enough name. (Suggestions?)
Hannah graduated from UC Davis with a degree in History and has been working as a tutor ever since. She loves to travel - she spent a year living in France and studied Shakespeare in London before moving back home to L.A. to better appreciate having lived in France and London. Hannah has taught students of all ages, from elementary students at a Montessori school to high school and college students during her time at UC Davis.  She especially loves working one-on-one with students and hopefully making the process of applying to college a lot less daunting. 
Hannah is originally from Annapolis, Maryland, and can “catch a crab the old fashioned way… with chicken necks.” (To be honest, we weren’t aware that there was an old fashioned way of catching crabs, nor did we realize that chickens should be used in the process). Hannah went on to double major in Film and English at Vanderbilt, and eventually travelled abroad to Melbourne, Australia. While abroad, Hannah “found” herself (and also “found” that toilets flush counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere)! We would be remiss not to mention her Grammy-worthy karaoke rendition of “Son of a Preacher Man” and her cat named Etta James. So… consider those things mentioned.
Heather graduated from Boston University's College of Communication with a BS in Advertising and recently received her Masters of Social Work from Rutgers University, having specialized in adolescent counseling. Heather has been tutoring for Catalyst for several years and is one of our most requested New Jersey tutors. When she isn't helping students avoid falling for the SAT's sneaky trap answers, she enjoys discussing world politics and celebrity gossip (often hard to tell the difference).
Ilya lives in the disorientingly named Albany, CA, and is well-versed in the tactics of standardized tests and chess. (He's ready to teach students not only how to FOIL, but also how and when to Castle.) When not helping students conquer the SAT (or Ukrainian Chess Champion, Rustam Kasimdzhanov), Ilya is probably eating veggie Chinese food alongside his beloved cat, Molly. Ilya and Molly also like to hang out and listen to music, though they have sharply divided points of view on Stevie Nicks's solo work.
Isa grew up in Cleveland, Boston, and Silver Spring, Maryland (but mostly Cleveland). She began college at the California Institute of Technology, transferred to Georgetown, moved to the Bay Area upon graduation, and has since served two terms as an AmeriCorps member. (Isa has never been one to let geography stand in the way of her education and ambitions.) She enjoys working as an SAT tutor because she believes in demystifying standardized tests as much as possible and likes working with high schoolers. When not Catalyst-ing, she is most likely to be found writing, telling boisterous jokes in public forums, eating, or sleeping.
Jack recently graduated from Occidental College with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Math. He has three years of tutoring experience at the college's Center for Academic Excellence, and served as vice-president of the college's chapter of Psi Chi, the national honor society for psychology. Jack enjoys teaching the SAT because he gets a warm, fuzzy feeling from giving students the skills, strategies, and emotional support to succeed in the face of a seemingly intractable challenge. Also, he gets to share his love of words like intractable.
Jackie majored in Biological Sciences (we, the older folks at Catalyst, remember when it was just called "Biology") and is taking a year off before beginning her PhD studies in Biomedical Research at the University of Utah. She loves helping students learn Catalyst's SAT / ACT strategies (they're "amazing") and thinks all students deserve a fun learning environment. When she's not jumping in the air with her graduation cap and gown, Jackie enjoys reading, gymnastics, travel and spending time with friends.
A totally different Jackie grew up in Los Angeles, where she attended El Camino Real High School and participated in the school's much-vaunted Academic Decathlon team, placing 2nd place at the National Competition. After high school, Jackie studied at UC Berkeley and spent junior year abroad in Italy, where everyone, not just pretentious people, says "Ciao." In addition to her SAT and ACT prep, she started a non-profit that offers art classes for students in underserved areas. More than anything, Jackie loves those "lightbulb moments" - the mini-revelations students have when they finally comprehend a previously challenging concept.
Jacqueline, who would not even think of going by Jackie, is a recent graduate from Occidental College where she majored in Politics (possibly because a certain President Obama attended Occidental), and was a member of the Mortar Board National Honor Society. While still a student, Jacqueline worked as a teaching assistant for a first year writing seminar, and for the Multicultural Summer Institute, a program for incoming first year students. She also received the Walter P. Gerken Research Fellowship to conduct a research project examining subgroup political efficacy. (We have no idea what that means, but are sure it's impressive.)
Jamie grew up in Kansas City (Missouri, not Kansas) and went to college at Washington University in St. Louis. Fulfilling the anxieties of middle-class parents everywhere, he graduated with a degree in English Literature and a passion for theater. Nonetheless, Jamie managed to turn his dual loves into a viable career; he has worked as a theater educator for more than a decade, both as a freelance consultant and as the Associate Education Director at two prominent regional theaters. When not helping kids break down blank verse, unpack Shakespeare’s loaded language, and destroy the Writing and Critical Reading sections of the SAT, he enjoys running, videogaming, and hanging out with his confusingly named Welsh Corgi, Sonic the HedgeDog.
Janice graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in International Studies. While in school, Janice traveled abroad to Spain where she learned to speak basic conversational Spanish. Having grown up in Huntington Beach, CA, she also speaks basic conversational Surf-speak. Needless to say, she is stoked to help students carve out gnarly strategies for bogus standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. Bra.
Jason spent his early days in Ohio and moved out to the Bay Area about 10 years ago (mostly for the better variety of hats). He’s currently completing his degree at UC Berkeley. Jason has been working as a tutor since high school, assisting fellow students and family friends before eventually joining the Catalyst team as a seasoned guru. In his spare time, he’s got an insatiable appetite for reading, especially nonfiction books. Jason loves learning about the world and promises not to wear a sombrero while he’s tutoring your son or daughter.
Jay hails from Greenwich, CT, and eventually landed in the beautiful rolling hills of Storrs, CT, where he earned an honors degree from University of Connecticut. Jay became a huge Husky Basketball fan and completed a double major in English/Political Science (or, “the art of lying with grammatical integrity”). He then moved out to Los Angeles where he garnered plenty of experience in education, working both as a teacher and as a college admissions officer.
Jenna graduated summa cum laude from Cal State Fullerton, where she was a President's Scholar.  In addition to teaching the SAT for Catalyst, Jenna teaches math and English to elementary school students who are blissfully unaware that they will have to take the SAT in 10 years. She enjoys giving high school students the inside scoop on the SAT because she knows how stressful college prep can be (she is currently applying to graduate school), and loves showing them how easy it is to master all the skills they need to succeed. 
Jessica McKenna gets to have a last name on our website because, in addition to her status as a Catalyst SAT guru, she is also our office assistant! Jessica was born in Yorba Linda, California, the birthplace of President Richard Nixon (Town Motto: "Hey! Watergate Was A Long Time Ago!"), and is an actor and in the acclaimed educational troupe, Story Pirates. She graduated cum laude with a B.S. in Theatre (pronounced "thee-ah-ter") from Northwestern and plays the mandolin. She has an enviable track record at boosting students' scores and looks forward to high-fiving your son or daughter after their score goes up 300 points.
Jessica R grew up in Folsom, CA, well known for its oppressive walls, lifetime sentences, and low possibility of escape. Also, there is a prison in town. In high school, Jessica completed the International Baccalaureate Program (a really fancy way of saying academic and intellectual bootcamp) and wanted to EXPLODE from the stress. In the end, the IB Diploma was worth it, but what she wouldn’t have given for some entertainment to go along with the intense study! (Enter: Catalyst Prep.) Jessica majored in drama at UC Irvine, and she now brings her energy, wit, and intellect to helping students through the horrors of the SAT, ACT, and various other academic trials. Like her fellow Jessica (M), Jessica R is a member of the Story Pirates, a creative writing program that turns kids’ awesome stories into awesome musical sketches. She can expertly imitate old timey Broadway divas and Celine Dion, and whenever there’s a baby or a puppy within 10 miles, her voice goes up three octaves and she kind of morphs into a Disney princess.
Jessica grew up in small town Longview, Texas, before traveling to Geneva, Switzerland. (Although she’s very fond of BBQ and high school football, she decided she was even more interested in international relations). After earning her bachelor’s in IR (and after reading Cannery Row and East of Eden), Jessica moved to Monterey, CA, where she got her master’s in Public Administration. She's currently in DC pursuing a career in international development. In her free time she enjoys traveling, cooking, watching movies, and going to Capitol Hill to lobby against the experimental section of the SAT (because if it doesn’t count toward students’ scores, it’s really just pork barrel).
Jim hails from St. Louis, Missouri, and graduated from Butler University in 2005 and Harvard University with a masters in 2009. Since Hah-vahd, Jim has been tutoring and teaching in the Midwest, New York, and Boston. Just last year he was asked to give the keynote speech at his undergraduate alma mater, Butler University, for their annual Alumni convocation. He likes spending time outdoors, consuming coldcut sandwiches, and theater.
Jimmy received his undergrad degree from Carnegie Mellon University, double-majoring in history and political science, and received his master's from the London School of Economics, focusing on international development and security.  Prior to his stint across the pond, Jimmy spent a year with AmeriCorps in Northern California as a 5th grade teacher in a public elementary school. He also worked in the policy group of the House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill. (He can't divulge too much, but suffice to say you don't want to get on Jimmy's bad side.) He has experience tutoring kids as young as five and as old as eighteen. In addition to his status as a Catalyst SAT & ACT guru, Jimmy currently works as a management consultant in Washington, D.C.
Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Joel decided to head north for college. After graduating from University of Rochester with a degree in Optical Engineering, he moved to the D.C. area to develop lasers and help high schoolers defeat the standardized test and college application gauntlet. Joel likes to mountain bike, go on canoe trips, and take advantage of all the outdoor wonder available in the converted swamp that is our nation’s capital.
John graduated with a BA in Psychology from USC and grew up in Bellevue, WA, close to Seattle. Prior to Catalyst, John worked for a fishing company in Naknek, Alaska, aiding fishermen and facilitating company operations - typically from 8 am - 1 am in the morning! (Hope those fish stick mongers paid OT, John!) John decided to make the switch from fishing to tutoring the SAT because A) it's rewarding to help teenagers succeed B) the odds of being mauled by a moose or grizzly bear are far less in students' living rooms than in Naknek, Alaska, and C) teenagers, unlike fish, do not leave one with a lingering stench that repels women.
Johnny grew up in the cozy, Bay Area hamlet of Alameda. (Fun fact: Alameda is home to the headquarters and training facilities of the Oakland Raiders!) He is completing the final year of an Applied Statistics degree at San Diego State University. Johnny got into tutoring because he believes that many people who struggle with academics allow it to affect their self-esteem, and he considers it his duty to create a patient and positive learning environment to show them that knowledge can be simple, fun, and something to feel good about! (Johnny’s motto is, “Just because your algebra teacher wasn’t smiling when HE taught you, doesn’t mean I won’t be.”) In his free time, he plays basketball, football, and guitar. (Fun fact: Johnny cannot snap. He can do regression analysis and perfect trig substitution, but he cannot make a noise come from his fingers, no matter how long someone spends explaining the how-to. He can whistle, though.)
Jordana graduated in 2007 from Pomona College where she majored in Biological Anthropology. After college, she worked as a project manager for a photovoltaic company (don't worry, we have no idea what "photovoltaic" means, either) and as an English teacher in Buenos Aires. In 2011, she completed a master's in Sustainable Design and Construction from Stanford University's Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Throughout her life, Jordana has tutored and taught the following subjects: SAT, GRE, Spanish, math, writing, reading, and American Sign Language. Her non-standardized test interests include surfing, watching Bravo, and making the world more energy-efficient. She enjoys tutoring for the SAT because she remembers how anxious she felt during that time in life, and likes giving students the skills they need to stay calm and confident.
Julian tutored for Catalyst while he was an undergraduate at UCLA, where he studied economics and Chinese (namely, how the Chinese will be taking over our economy). After graduating summa cum laude in 2009, he attended Harvard Law School, where he is currently finishing his third year with a specialty in financial law. This past summer Julian worked as a corporate lawyer in New York and then traveled to Africa, where he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and volunteered with a nature conservancy group (providing free legal counsel for a number of hippopotami).  Julian enjoys math, chess, electronic music, acting, and of course being a phenomenal (albeit semi-retired) SAT & ACT guru.
Juliana majored in Psychology and Drama at Vassar College and lives in Washington D.C., where she takes part in kickball, theater, meditation, sword fighting, and white water rafting. (Refreshing pursuits in a town plagued by lobbying, pork-barrelling, filibustering, and Anderson Cooper-ing.) At Vassar, Juliana wrote, directed, and choreographed a new version of Peter Pan and took a semester abroad, to study theater in Russia. She recently traveled to Scandinavia and Germany and loves teaching for Catalyst because there's no better reward than seeing a student experience an "aha!" moment.
Justin is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. Though often lauded for his many feats of derring-do, Joseph is currently putting all of his artistic, intellectual, and creative energies towards being one of the best tutors in the Los Angeles area. Having thoroughly enjoyed his time in college, Justin delights in working with local high school students to ensure that they will have access to same educational experiences he did.
An Utterly Different Justin is a Ph.D. candidate in African Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, having already completed both a B.A. and M.A. from Berkeley.  He has taught courses at UC Berkeley on a wide-range of topics, including the 1970s, Hollywood, World War II, and California history. Don't get him started on the Gold Rush.
Justin recently completed his master’s degree at Harvard where he studied Ancient Religion, Culture, and Literature. These academic pursuits were inspired by Indiana Jones, but after seeing the most recent film in the series, Justin began to question the integrity of his work. Regardless, he gathered his things in stick n’ bindle and headed for sunny Los Angeles, CA, where he would help students obtain the Holy Grail of Test Prep (the Catalyst curriculum). Justin loves reading esoteric journals (his favorite is Anthroposophy in Nineteenth Century Austria), learning foreign languages (he’s at five and counting!), picking up useless trivia (ask him about mineral production in Wyoming), and riding his skateboard (no good parenthetical information for this one, he just likes skateboarding).
Kameron grew up in Oklahoma City, and graduated Class Marshal from the University of Central Oklahoma with bachelor’s in Music Theatre. (He has appeared in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! approximately nineteen times.) Kameron went on to earn a master’s in Public Relations at NYU and is currently pursuing a second master’s (in screenwriting) at UCLA. When he’s not earning advanced degrees or tutoring high schoolers, Kameron enjoys hiking, swimming, reading, going to movies, dancing, and traveling. He’s visited 19 foreign countries and 41 of the states, but there’s no doubt in his mind which is the finest. It’s a place where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain, and the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet when the wind comes right behind the rai-ai-ain! (It’s Idaho.)
Don't let that quirky heart photo fool you: Kate graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in Biology and was an American Literature teaching assistant, a campus tour guide, and a 2009 Service Career Fellow. When she is not expanding minds as a Catalyst SAT / ACT guru, Kate teaches elementary and middle school kids all about nature.
Katherine graduated from Notre Dame with neither a major nor a double major, but rather a triple major in English, Dramatics, and Communications. She was born and raised (and consumed many crabs) on Kent Island on the Eastern shore of Maryland, and won Maryland's 4-H public speaking contest during high school. She loves tutoring for Catalyst because it's a really enjoyable challenge to find the right way to connect with each student. When she's not guru-ing, Katherine loves rooting for the Baltimore Ravens, the only NFL team named after a narrative poem by Edgar Allan Poe.
Originally from Princeton, NJ, Katie graduated cum laude from Georgetown University with a major in English and Psychology. Katie enjoys photography and kayaking, but finds them difficult to do simultaneously. (A recent attempt at oil painting and off-road dirt biking has led her suspect that it might be better to keep some hobbies separate). But she loves teaching the SATs and does not see a need to combine test prep with any extreme sports activities.
Kelsey grew up in New Lenox, Illinois, a sleepy town just outside Chicago, and left the Windy City's burbs for decidedly unsleepy New York, where she pursued a B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Columbia University. Kelsey loves teaching the SAT because "it's cool to show kids most of the strategies are actually kind of fun, once you get the hang of them." (Kelsey means get the hang of the strategies, not adolescents.) Aside from guru-ing for Catalyst, Kelsey likes to read, visit museums, cook, bake, occasionally microwave, and go shopping. She earned a perfect score on the SAT when she was in high school and, perhaps even more impressively, knows how to weld, solder, and use most of the power tools that hang in her parent's garage - skills that enabled her to once build a race car from scratch.
Kevin graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in psychology. He has been helping students prepare for the SAT and ACT for the past nine years and started working at Catalyst in 2005. He has come to the conclusion that these tests are basically evil, and that it is his moral responsibility to help students conquer evil. Kevin's commitment to vanquishing evil has led him to score a perfect 2400 on the new SAT.  
Kevin (no relation to the above Kevin) holds a BA in English from Stanford and is pursuing an MA in English from the same institution. (Basically, he doesn't want to ever leave Palo Alto.) As an undergraduate, Kevin edited Stanford English's journal of literary criticism, Glosses, and was a fellow at the Stanford Humanities center, studying new media ecologies in postmodernist fiction. (We have no idea what that means, either.) After completing his master's in English, he plans to move into clinical psychology.
Kevin, which was evidently a very popular baby name during the early days of the Reagan Administration, is majoring in Materials Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He hails from Hillsborough, New Jersey, and enjoys playing sports, going to the movies, and hanging out with friends. Kevin's "dorky" Clark Kent-like alter ego has more academic interests, including robotics, scientific research, and playing the trombone. He really enjoys being a Catalyst SAT / ACT guru because it took a lot of effort to prepare for college and loves passing along much of the knowledge he gained in the process.
Kirsten graduated from UC Santa Barbara's Honors Program. While an undergraduate, she worked as a chemistry tutor, teaching supplementary courses to her fellow students and volunteering at a local residence community with Adventures in Caring. Kirsten was actually tutored by Catalyst's CEO when she was in high school (see Jared Friedland under "Our Staff") - huge bragging rights within the glamorous test prep industry. She's an incredibly committed teacher and will be heading to medical school this fall, beginning what we are sure will be an illustrious career!
A native Hoosier, Kyle grew up in Indianapolis, and graduated from Indiana University, where he majored in Political Science and minored in Business. Ever since he watched the TV show The Practice as an impressionable fourteen-year-old, Kyle wanted to go to law school. In 2010, he graduated from California Western School of Law and can't wait to begin invoicing clients under the sunny skies of San Diego. (Just kidding, Kyle!) When he's not honing his skills as an attorney novitiate and helping students ace the SAT & ACT, Kyle enjoys swimming, spending time outdoors, and rooting rather raucously for Hoosier basketball.
Larkin has a B.A. in Chemistry from Johns Hopkins (school mascot: The Fighting Future Prostate Surgeons) and a Masters in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (school motto: "I'm afraid that's not covered by your insurance.") Larkin has lived in Kyoto, Japan, and Riverside, California, but calls Elk Grove, CA, home. When he's not tutoring the SAT or conducting mad scientist-type research, Larkin enjoys soccer and performing stand up. (His bit about polypeptides always brings down the house at Stitches, Johns Hopkins' campus comedy club.)
Laura graduated from Cornell University with a BA in Psychology and recently completed her master's in Social Work from New York University. She began teaching for Catalyst in 2008 in Southern California and continues to guru for us in New York City. (Sadly, we at Catalys's Santa Monica headquarters do not think we are ever luring Laura back to the West Coast.) Laura has an amazing track record with both the SAT and ACT - seriously, the woman works wonders - and is also a care management specialist and counselor at NYU's Student Health Center.
While earning a B.A. in Anthropology at Southern Methodist University (Go ‘Stangs!), Laura developed a passion for service in the nonprofit community. Not only did she lead several student volunteer programs and intern at Teach for America, she also developed a strong love for the city of Dallas. Her favorite spots in the city are the lap pool at the YMCA, the local thrift store, and the neighborhood Snow Cone stand (which at the height of the Dallas summer is really just a grenadine stand). She has a cat named Arnold the “Purrminator” whom she loves unconditionally. Arnold loves Laura, too, and refers to her as the “Sarah Connor of SAT/ACT Prep.”
Laura graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Development Studies in 2011. She's lived in California her whole life, but has volunteered, worked, and studied in Honduras, Ecuador, and Brazil. She loves languages and speaks “Español” and “Português” (that’s Spanish and Portuguese, respectively). Her goal is to learn Français (French) next. She is an active musician, playing violin in a range of styles and groups, from gypsy jazz to modern folk. Also, she can make some really good vegan tacos. (Some of her Catalyst colleagues worried that “vegan tacos,” without any meat or cheese, would just be empty taco shells, but it turned out they were actually quite substantive and very tasty.) Laura hates animal cruelty, but loves standardized test cruelty (when students slaughter the SAT or ACT).
Laura was born and raised in South Carolina, but after eighteen years in the sleepy South, she decided it was time to move … to the high-octane Midwest! She headed for St. Louis where she played basketball and double majored in Psychology and Anthropology at Washington University. After graduation, Laura moved to D.C. to teach high school math and science. When she’s not tutoring or teaching, she likes to watch the Lakers lose. (She must not realize her paychecks are coming from Santa Monica, CA, where Catalyst is based. It would be in her best interest to drop that last hobby....)
Laurel graduated from Northwestern University and just finished law school in San Francisco, where there's thankfully no shortage of people to sue. She's taught high school English and French and has been teaching the SAT for three years, with stellar results. Laurel loves teaching for Catalyst because it gives her the opportunity to have fun in the classroom and help students realize how beatable standardized tests really are. Also, it doesn't involve taking the Bar.
Hailing from just outside Portland, Maine, Lauren encountered more than her fair share of moose growing up and believes these minivan-sized creatures are far less intimidating in person, unless of course one is stampeding toward you, in which case they can be somewhat frightening. Lauren graduated from Oberlin College, where she studied music theory and math, often plucking and drawing chords until well into the night. (That was a really bad music / geometry joke. We apologize.) Lauren has since moved back to New England and teaches the SAT & ACT throughout Boston. When she's not guru-ing, Lauren loves visiting Boston's Museum of Science and telling her friends "You think this is cold? Try growing up in Maine."
Lee spent his childhood in Pittsburgh (which sounds like a refrain in a country song) and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in English. He lives in Philadelphia but currently attends NYU, where he's pursuing a Master's in Humanities and Social Thought. Lee has worked and volunteered as an educator for the past four years, helping middle and high school students improve their reading comprehension, composition skills, and creative writing. When he isn't studying or tutoring, Lee can be found writing and directing plays. He has a passion for Shakespeare and, well, really anything written before 1660 ("it's all down hill starting around 1670") and can break down English etymology "like nobody's business." He's also an animal lover and would be more than happy to babysit your pets while you're away.
Leigh is a recent UCLA grad (Go Bruins!) who majored in Physiology and minored in Spanish. She eventually migrated back to her childhood home of Marin County, just north of San Francisco, and plans to attend medical school. (She’s particularly excited about working with cadavers, an enthusiasm that, while reflective of an admirable dedication to a medical education, has occasionally caused friends and family members to eye her with concern.) Leigh has always enjoyed tutoring students: she started volunteering at an after-school program in sixth grade and has been teaching ever since. In her free time, Leigh loves exploring the great outdoors by hiking on beautiful Mt. Tam, skiing in Tahoe, or camping in Yosemite. (She once camped for eleven days straight with nothing but a canteen, ten feet of rope, and a Catalyst Bootcamp Textbook.)
Liam graduated from UCLA with a major in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. (He is really good at saying "It's okay, a lot of people have those feelings" in Español.) After college, Liam skedaddled to Spain where he taught English for two years on the beach in Malaga. (Liam, if you are trying to make us jealous, it's working.) In many ways, the high school students he taught in Spain were similar to the high school students he teaches through Catalyst, but his Spanish students didn't have to face "el SÁT." In addition to his SAT & ACT guru-dom, Liam is currently a program developer at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. He also plays in a volleyball league, bowls at least once a week, and when no one else is home, drums along to hip-hop music.
Lyda graduated from New York University with a dual degree in Economics and Psychology and now works as an Economist for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, D.C. (We'd insert a bureaucracy joke here, but Lyda has way too many friends in high places.) Lyda doesn't love the SAT or ACT but she does love teaching those tests because it's thrilling to see the results you can achieve in just a few lessons. When she's not teaching the SAT and ACT or telling Alan Greenspan how it is, Lyda enjoys meeting new people, spending time with friends, trying out new recipes, and reading.
Lyman grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, the hometown of Conan O'Brien, and would like us to say he's still waiting for his front row tickets to arrive in case a certain orange-haired talk show host happens to be reading. He is a proud, self-declared "huge science nerd" and loves that tutoring gives him the opportunity to "geek out" every day. For Lyman, "math problems are like Sudoku puzzles," a perspective that enables him to have a lot of fun on the job. When he's not teaching the SAT and ACT, Lyman likes to rock climb, hold turtles aloft on interstate freeways (see photo on left) and act. He's also blessed with a gift for foreign languages, and has been able to speak and write Latin, Spanish, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese at various times in his life. Currently, he's down to just Spanish, but we at Catalyst are confident he'll be able to conjugate "geek out" in Swahili in no time.
Mandy was born and raised in sunny San Diego, California. She went to school at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2009. While in school, she lived and studied in South Africa and also spent time in Bangladesh working in the Mother Theresa homes. When she’s not teaching, Mandy likes reading a great book, eating Thai food, and hanging at the beach. Mandy enjoys tutoring because she loves "getting students pumped up on learning and excited for college."
Mariel grew up in Pasadena, where she attended Polytechnic High School and began tutoring students in math and Spanish. Currently at Brown University, where she is majoring in Comparative Literature (Intro Course: "Ernest Hemingway vs. Norman Mailer: Who'd Win In A Fight?"), Mariel has continued to pursue her love of teaching as the coordinator of a community-based ESL program, where she has taught for two years. She received perfect scores on her SAT, PSAT, and a number of SAT subject tests, but believes her ability to relate to students is what really makes her an outstanding tutor. (We do, too - Mariel is GREAT.) She particularly enjoys tutoring for the SAT because she likes to take the mystery out of an exam that is intimidating for so many students.
Mark is a native of Oakland, California, and currently working toward a Math/Economics and Music double major at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. (Mark, we're probably not as good as math as you are, but that seems like three majors, no?) As an Eagle Scout, summer camp counselor, and intern at a non-profit arts center, he brings a wide array of experiences to working with teenagers. When he's not studying Econ or tutoring the SAT, he enjoys playing drums, backpacking, cooking, basketball, and posing outdoors for pictures.
Mary couldn’t be more excited to relive the wonderful glory days of SAT studying and test taking. (Thanks, Catalyst!) When she’s not busy reminiscing, Mary studies International Development (with an emphasis on China) and Education at UC Berkeley. When she’s not studying, Mary enjoys dancing, baking blueberry muffins, dancing, eating the aforementioned blueberry muffins, and cheering on the Cal Bears! Of course, her academic passions are for teaching and researching the problems inherent in educational systems. What better way to exercise both these passions than to help students defeat the SAT?
Matt graduated from Northwestern University, home of The Fighting Future Screenwriters. He enjoys teaching the SAT and ACT, believing high school students have enough on their A.P.-laden plates without having to worry about standardized tests. Matt lives in Los Angeles, where he acts and writes. Little known secret about Matt: Boosting students' scores kinds makes him feel like a superhero.
A non-Hollywood-aspiring Matt is a PhD student at Princeton University where he studies medieval Arabic, often by candlelight. He received a BA from Williams College and a Master's from Cambridge University where they do indeed wear Harry Potter robes. Matt used to act and direct theater, and enjoys getting up in front of students to teach them shortcuts and strategies. In the future, he hopes to be a college professor, perhaps to his students who do really well on the SAT/ACT.  
Matthew (who would never deign to go by Matt) graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where he pursued an interdisciplinary degree in religious studies. When he is not helping students achieve great - actually, let's make that incredible - SAT scores, he enjoys writing and performing music, surfing, and exploring the outdoors. When asked why he likes helping students defeat such a ludicrous exam as the SAT, Matthew has been known to quip, in Zorro-like fashion, "The SAT is my sworn enemy, and I must do all I can to defeat it."
Matthew (of San Diego) grew up on the mean streets of Detroit. He earned a Master’s Degree in Education at Wayne State University, and in addition to tutoring has worked as a high school English teacher for five years. Currently, he’s also studying for his own exams (Series 7 and 66) in preparation for a second career as a financial advisor, a transition he affectionately describes as “joining the forces of darkness.” Matthew’s hobbies include rooting for the Detroit Tigers and Lions, reading novels, enjoying a great meal with friends, and summiting the Tik’al Mayan temple complex in Guatemala (see photo).
Maura grew up in Northern Virginia, except for a three-year stint in Tokyo, Japan during junior high. Her dad is "with the government." She graduated cum laude from the University of Dallas with a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies (which is a fancy way of saying “Education”). Maura loves to travel and did both a semester abroad in Rome and a full-immersion Spanish program in Oaxaca, Mexico. Additionally, for all four years of college, she interned at the CIA in Langley, VA, over breaks. (She says it was VERY cool, but if she tells us any details she will have to kill us.) Today, Maura has settled down, married a professional chef, and spends her time raising two awesome kids, watching just about every stupid reality show BRAVO can come up with, and tutoring, which she loves because “there is nothing quite like helping a student discover his potential” and also “it supplies a much needed break from the Wiggles and changing poopy diapers.” TRIVIA: As a child, Maura was often mocked for her unique laugh, but she was vindicated as a junior in high school when she was named the East Coast Champion of the Pillsbury Doughboy Giggle-off. (Some lousy six-year-old from the Midwest won the national prize and got to be in a commercial, but Maura still got a doll, a cool certificate, and $100.)
Max was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, but grew up in sunny, Un-St.-Petersburg-like San Jose, where he enjoyed a blissfully borscht-free childhood in beautiful Northern California. After high school, Max majored in Neuroscience and Humanities at UC San Diego. In addition to his SAT & ACT prep guru-dom, Max enjoys "mono-tasking," cooking, conversation, tennis, and basketball.
Another Max grew up in Irvine, CA, and loves tutoring, especially teaching foreign languages. When he's not teaching students the SAT, ACT, Spanish, or French, Max enjoys drawing (he's hoping to be accepted to graduate school at the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena), reading, traveling, and spending time with his very close siblings. (Max is the only triplet among Catalyst's gurus.)
Max was born in New Jersey, raised in Illinois, and made his glorious return to The Garden State to attend Rutgers University. Max is a real sports buff, so when he’s not helping students rout standardized tests (a la Rutgers over UCF in the 2009 St. Petersburg Bowl), he’s focused on his sports broadcasting career. Currently, he works as the statistician for Rutgers Football Radio Network and does play-by-play for local high school football and basketball. Max always brings his broadcaster enthusiasm into the classroom and has been known to root on students during practice problems. The Catalyst students line up in an offset I-formation. Meyers hands to Joseph on the carry, dive right. Follows a block and breaks a tackle. He’s at the 35, 30... 25, 20 … the 10... 5... FACTORIALS!
Maxime graduated from Monte Vista High School in Danville, CA, and attends Cal Poly Pomona where he is pursuing a light little major known as Aerospace Engineering. He enjoys teaching standardized tests because he likes seeing the look on students' faces when they understand a challenging new concept. When he's not tutoring, Maxime enjoys playing tennis, programming, and playing the occasional video game, a recreational hobby he promises not to discuss with any procrastination-prone students. He also recently piloted a plane for the first time, an experience he describes as "pretty awesome."
Maxwell grew up in Northampton, MA, a hotbed of arts and letters and center of gravity for the area’s consortium of five colleges. He graduated valedictorian from a small private school, and then spent the summer touring with the Black Rebels (a Senegalese roots reggae band), before going on to graduate with honors from Amherst College and receive his master’s degree in Germanic Languages and Literatures from Harvard University. Back in high school, SAT prep helped Maxwell raise his score by over 200 points, and he takes great pleasure today in giving his own students the same boost. When he’s not tutoring, Maxwell enjoys running, playing the electric bass and banjo-ukulele, advancing his web design skills, gourmet cooking, and translating German literature. Though he’s one of a surprising number of Catalyst gurus with martial arts training (black belt in Okinawan Shorin-ryu karate), we’re pretty sure he’s the only one to be mentioned in a Kurt Vonnegut book (at the start of Chapter 31 in Timequake – nice!)
Mayank studies Electrical Engineering at UCLA and loves helping students who fear science because it's rewarding to help them discover a passion for math, chemistry, and physics. (Or at least, if the whole "passion" thing doesn't happen, get an A in those classes.) Mayank has been tutoring for five years, since his own days as a high school student, and loves basketball, reading, watching movies, and playing ping-pong.
Meewa, a proud New Jersey native (hold your derisive comments!) graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in English. In college, she tutored first-year students in writing and grammar, and spent one winter break volunteering as an ESL teacher in Moldova. In addition to tutoring with Catalyst, Meewa’s greatest joys include traveling the world, spending time with her dog, and showing off her favorite crowd-pleasing talent: the ability to lick her right elbow.
Micca grew up Irvine, CA, and got a perfect score on her high school SAT, before going on to study Bioengineering and Art History at MIT. She loves puzzles, bizarre yarn crafts, and trying new things. (Freshman year of college, she even let a friend convince her to join the Cheer Squad, but later decided to give up cheerleading for the comparatively less dangerous activity of competitive rock climbing.) Micca also enjoys drawing and painting, co-hosts a biweekly bicycling radio show with her fifteen-year-old sister, and is consistently voted the Catalyst Guru Mostly Likely to Genetically Engineer a Unicorn.
Still famous for his turn as Willy Wonka in his fifth grade class's performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Michael now uses his acting skills to help students prep for the SAT & ACT. He loves helping students "unlock their potential" and also enjoys interacting with teenagers because "they keep me caught up on what's hip these days." Michael hails from Los Gatos, studied Sociology and Music at the University of Washington, and is one of our most popular instructors in Northern California.
Mike attended UCLA on a Regents Scholarship, graduating in 2008 with degrees in History and Business Economics, as well as a minor in Accounting.  After working for a finance firm and then backpacking throughout Europe and South America, Mike received a Graduate Assistantship Award from American University, where he is currently working toward a Master's in U.S. Foreign Policy. (We're not sure what this entails, but are fairly certain he's learning how to stamp Top Secret across manila envelopes.) Mike has extensive experience working with students as a teaching assistant with the Junior National Student Leadership Conference (JNSLC), as a tutor with Bruin Partners at UCLA, and now as an SAT guru with Catalyst.  
Natalie is a UCLA graduate with a B.S. in Environmental Science. She spent three years employed by UCLA as one of the university's official tutors, providing free study help to fellow students in writing and molecular biology. She aspires to be a professor and understands how much a rockin' SAT score can matter when applying to universities.
A totally different Natalie recently moved to the San Diego area after receiving her B.A. in Psychology from UC Santa Barbara with a minor in Education. Always secretly thrilled when teachers put her on the spot and handed off the marker, Natalie has wanted to be a teacher since she was a little kid. She spent much of her time as an undergraduate volunteering as an English tutor in local schools and enjoys even the toughest challenges because they encourage her to be creative. She also finds SAT tutoring to be the noblest form of tutoring because it has been known to prevent teenage mental breakdowns (FACT!).
Neeraj - a.k.a Nicky - graduated from Bellarmine College Preparatory and recalls his high school days as an endless series of nights studying every SAT prep book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. After Bellarmine Prep, Nicky headed to UCLA, where he currently studies Computer Science. Not content merely to code, Nicky plans to live abroad after college, designs websites, studies real estate and entrepreneurship, and is training to complete a triathlon.
Neij (pronounced like “knee“ with a j on the end) was born in DC, raised in Alexandria, VA, and has lived in the Metro area for his whole life, which means that he is a die-hard Washington sports fan (Caps, Wiz, Nats and most of all Skins). He recently graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in Finance. In his free time, Neij likes to play sports (basketball, tennis, beach volleyball, frisbee golf), watch movies (favorite movie: Shawshank Redemption), listen to music (favorite band: Led Zeppelin), chill with his friends and - most of all - travel the world. He has so far visited dozens of countries, most recently Tanzania and Kenya, but he wants to see many, many more. Neij relishes SAT tutoring because he vividly remembers how stressful this test can be, and he loves teaching kids all of Catalyst’s strategies so that they can feel prepared and confident to kick this test’s butt.
Nick graduated from Yale University and has had an aesthetically-pleasing smile since his days in elementary school. He lives in Washington D.C. and has been tutoring the SAT and ACT, as well as subject tests, since he was a precocious student back in high school. He has sensational results with just about every student and subject, but counts math and social studies as his favorites.
Nicole grew up in a small town in Virginia where most kids amused themselves by cavorting in the woods, fishing, and playing tag. Not a fan of Lyme disease, Nicole spent her time reading anything she could get her hands on, and writing about what she read. By the time she reached high school she had been through her parents' entire library and her family's Encyclopedia Brittanica volumes A - S, stalling out on Streptococcus. After studying English in college she moved to San Diego and began teaching journalism along with SAT & ACT prep. When she's not teaching students how to outsmart the SAT, Nicole enjoys traveling, cooking, and reading.
Nik grew up in Santa Barbara, CA, and started college at Oberlin, whose gray Ohio skies and Anti-Saloon League traditions he actually found sort of depressing. (We love you, Oberlin!) He then transferred to UC Santa Cruz, where he was much happier, majored in music, and only regrets the fact that he graduated before the opening of the much-anticipated Grateful Dead library collection. In addition to being a standardized test savant, Nik is also a gifted singer, having performed leading roles with the San Francisco Opera, Portland Opera, and Opera Santa Barbara. He enjoys biking and sailing, and for a period in the mid-nineties held the Super Mario Kart world record. He credits that success to extensive practice, hard work, and careful application of SAT geometry principles in the deployment of green Koopa shells.
Nina was born and raised in Los Angeles. After earning her BA in English at UCLA, she spent two years working as a journalist and editor before moving to New York City, where she earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence. Nina's favorite part of tutoring the SAT and ACT is the knowledge that she's helping students get into their dream colleges.
Other than four years in upstate New York, at St. Lawrence University, and several trips to India, Noelle has spent most of her life in Philadelphia. Noelle earned a Master's in International Education at the University of Pennsylvania and enjoys working one-on-one with students because it gives her the opportunity to form good, strong bonds with students as they work toward a shared goal. When she's not guru-ing for Catalyst, Noelle can be found learning Hindi for her next jaunt to India or training for Philadelphia's next half-marathon.
O’Neill grew up in the Washington, D.C., area and recently graduated from Kenyon College with a BA in Philosophy. Essentially a Transcendentalist, O’Neill spends his summers in the woods of Vermont, teaching woodshop and art at a summer camp (where he first discovered his passion for working with kids). To him, there is no feeling better than helping a young person achieve at a level he or she thought was impossible (whether the context is the SAT, the ACT, or a beautifully constructed bird feeder). When O’Neill isn’t tutoring, he’s working on his own art skills, which he hopes to one day employ as a professional painter.
Originally from Short Hills, New Jersey, Owen graduated from Stanford and now lives in Los Angeles, an odyssey he describes as Suburbia → Utopia → Purgatoria. (We, at Catalyst, are not quite sure "Purgatoria" is a word, but get what he's going after and always appreciate a good anti-Los Angeles arrow diagram.) Owen studied English and film at Stanford and is attempting to put his $120,000 education to good use writing romantic comedy spec scripts inspired by his relationship with his girlfriend, [anonymous]. When he's not guru-ing the SAT and ACT, Owen enjoys photography, visiting LACMA, and Skyping with his niece and nephew back in Jersey.
Patrick hails from monotonously sunny San Diego and earned a B.A. in Theatre Arts and Literature from UC Santa Cruz. Patrick has a 20 lb. cat named Boss, a feline he describes as much closer in appearance to a mountain lion than a kitty. (90% of Patrick's overhead goes to Kibbles.) Patrick loves teaching the SAT because he believes learning should be enjoyable and fun. When he's not teaching, Patrick enjoys traveling, camping, snowboarding, acting, directing, and hiking. (No shortage of prospective hiking partners for you on this site, Patrick!) Patrick hopes to eventually earn a PhD and teach at the university level.
Paul grew up in Philadelphia, PA, and like most young lads, he wanted to fly away from home to see all the great things the world has to offer. So he decided the best thing to do was enroll at the University of Pennsylvania. While there, Paul double majored in American History and Communications, and he even founded a comedy club. Paul then went on to receive his M.S. in Teaching Social Studies and continued learning about and teaching history-related subjects. In a last-ditch effort to “get away from it all,” Paul enrolled in an American History PhD program at Temple University ... in North Philly.
This Paul graduated from the George Washington University with a double-major in Economics and Philosophy, so he not only studied supply curves, he also questioned the nature of their existence. Paul likes to break a physical sweat, too, so he often plays pick-up basketball and tennis in his spare time. Because of all the mental and physical sweating, Paul finds that he has to drink a lot of water.
Paulina studied international relations at both the London School of Economics and Georgetown University and came to the surprising, highly controversial conclusion that the pubs around Georgetown have much better fish n' chips. She has lived in, worked, and traveled to fifty countries on five continents and speaks six languages. (Two more and she'd be able to converse with everyone in Los Angeles.) In addition to being a Catalyst SAT & ACT guru, Paulina loves meeting new people and spending time outdoors.
Perrine doesn’t have too much in common with the late, great Rick James … but she does believe in the Power of the Funk, especially when it comes to educating America’s youth. While at Stanford University, Perrine participated in an outreach program called StepOut, in which volunteers used hip hop and funk music to motivate students. Not only did she discover that students better absorb material when they can relate to it (fitting for her work at Catalyst), she also learned that the “Harlem Shake” is a suitable analogy for kinetics in high school chemistry. While Perrine is not tutoring the SAT or ACT, she is probably in the field doing reporting for local news affiliates.
Philip received his BA in Philosophy from Wesleyan University and an MBA from University of Virginia's Darden School of Business. (Basically, Philip is really, really educated.) He loves teaching because he had so much help throughout his life and feels all fortunate people should give back to their communities. Philip can teach many exams, from the GRE to the GMAT, but enjoys tutoring the SAT the most because it's fun to show high school students that learning test-taking strategies can actually be fun.
Born and raised in Shi-KAH-goh (often mispronouned "Chicago"), Quinn graduated from New Trier High School (go Trevians!) and the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Economics, and has the rare distinction of being the only Q-named teacher among Catalyst's gurus. After college, Quinn returned to the Windy City, where he teaches ACT Bootcamps for Catalyst when he's not busy putting his degree to good use as a trader at the mercantile exchange. (Do not try haggling with Quinn.) When he's not teaching students how to get through the ACT's dense reading passages, Quinn enjoys hanging out with his girlfriend, Elise, and their pet goldfish, Sammy.
Rachel started tutoring while a high school student in Los Angeles and continued teaching at Stanford, where she worked one-on-one with students to prep for the SAT and ACT.  Since graduating, Rachel has enjoyed helping high school students achieve their own personal goals in standardized testing. (Namely, to get through standardized testing as soon as possible.) She enjoys teaching students how to outsmart the SAT because "she's been there herself" and understands how terrifying the test can be to students who "don't know Catalyst's strategies."
A different Rachel graduated from Bard College in New York and studied abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia, at Smolny College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Rachel grew up in Wallingford, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia and wishes she had Catalyst when she was back in high school. She enjoys tutoring because it offers a much more personalized approach to teaching and because it enables us to try different techniques until we find something that works. When she's not working, Rachel loves knitting, and while she's knitting, Rachel loves watching TV marathons, movies, or listening to books on tape. (She tried knitting and reading and strongly advises against doing both simultaneously, if you prefer your mittens and sweaters look fit for human beings.)
Rachel graduated with a degree in Psychology from New York University. While studying abroad in Italy, Rachel taught English and mathematics to elementary schoolers and has since had a passion for teaching. Rachel was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and she has savored the opportunity to live on both coasts while working entertainment industry. She likes almost everything with the exceptions of bad grades and unpleasant people (and unpleasant people who give bad grades to pleasant students worthy of good grades.)
This Rachel also studied Psychology, but did so in the hillier (and somewhat less smoggy) locale of Bethlehem, PA. After graduating from Leigh University, Rachel began work as a kindergarten paraprofessional in Bridgeport, CT. Rachel loves teaching in general, but prefers tutoring the SAT's to teaching Kindergarten. (Though Catalyst Bootcamps do not incorporate nap time, they do have reportedly fewer cases of drooling, vomiting, and “boo-boos.”) Rachel now has a Masters in School Psychology and her other – very wholesome – interests include reading, gardening, and yoga.
Rajeev earned a 1530 on the old SAT (back when scores over 1400 were cause for bragging to the neighbors) and studied economics and mathematics at Washington University in St. Louis. During his undergraduate days, he participated in a study abroad program in econometrics at the University of Oxford. (We plan to Wikipedia "econometrics" just as soon as we're done typing up his bio.) Rajeev enjoys ice hockey and math and grew up all over the globe: Dubai, the United Kingdom, India, and the United States, which he believes has the greatest political freedom and chili-cheeseburgers. He enjoys SAT prep because he likes teaching students to reason their way through complicated-seeming problems and because it's cool to see their scores go up.
Raymond (the non-fuzzy creature on the left in the photo) is pursuing Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UCLA. He's lived in China, Singapore, Northern California, and Pennsylvania and considers San Francisco home. In addition to teaching the SAT, Raymond tutors chess, swims at UCLA's John Wooden Center, and mountain bikes, sometimes up to 20 miles at a time. He is also proud to have once ranked second in the United States in the National Ocean Science Bowl, an accolade that earned him an all-expenses-paid week vacation to Costa Rica, courtesy of the U.S. government! (Raymond, don't be too surprised if Uncle Sam sends you a belated invoice. Times are tough.) Other than that, Raymond would like us to mention that he is currently seeking someone to help him learn how to tango.
Rebecca holds a BS in Education and a BA in English from Ohio University, a JD from Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia, and a ring from Doug, pictured around eighty gurus above. She tutored throughout her undergraduate days and started her career as a high school English teacher. Although she is now a practicing attorney in Pennsylvania, she missed working with high school students and decided to join Catalyst after hearing about our creative, innovative curriculum from her hubby. Rebecca enjoys tutoring with Catalyst because she likes to help teenagers reach their goals and to compete with Doug to see who can boost students' scores higher.
Reuben just moved to LA after graduating from Stanford University, where he studied music composition and psychology. In addition to tutoring the SAT and ACT, Reuben gives private guitar and violin lessons and teaches music theory, orchestra and chamber music to kids and teenagers at various summer camps throughout California. (If your son or daughter comes home from camp requesting a set of drums, you know whom to blame.) Reuben has an uncanny ability to memorize birthdays and phone numbers, and though he wasn't around for most of the 80s, believes the Police was the best band of that decade.
Richard is originally from Dallas, Texas, and lived in TX until high school graduation, at which point he moved to Northern California to study biology and pursue pre-medicine at Stanford. Richard understand that studying for college entrance exams can be incredibly stressful (his own test prep days are not too far removed), and believes his empathy and patience with students form a big part of his successful track record. When he's not guru-ing, Richard enjoys music and has played the trumpet for nine years. He's explored many different genres, including classical, jazz, and even mariachi. (Richard promises not to serenade your family until he becomes much more proficient.)
At Cornell University, River studied Classics and Combat (no joke) and found that mastery of the latter could help him earn better grades in the former. River is now back in Berkeley, his hometown, where he’s prepping for the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Championship. Surprisingly, he’s never reported any issues about students being disruptive. In the long run, River plans to get a PhD in either Norse Mythology or Viral Epidemiology (once he decides whether he looks better in a Viking helmet or a hazmat suit). River enjoys teaching the SAT because it's like a puzzle, and he likes helping people figure out how to solve puzzles elegantly (even when it might be faster just to smash them with jiu jitsu).
Ryan has been tutoring students in academics and music since 2003. He graduated from UC Berkeley (Go Bears!) with a B.A. in social welfare and minor in music. He enjoys SAT tutoring because he likes helping high school students realize their test-taking potential and college admissions goals.
Sairina graduated from New York University with a degree in anthropology and a focus on pre-medicine, but then decided to take a short break by trying her hand in education with Teach for America. While working with TFA, she earned her Masters of Science in Secondary Education (you know, just sort of casually on the side) from Lehman College, and was a founding teacher of a high school in Brooklyn. Her “short break” from medicine eventually became a long hiatus, as she is now an ad exec for a motorcycle magazine company in the Bay Area. She enjoys spending her free time dragonboating in the Berkeley Marina and getting back to her educational roots with Catalyst!
Sam is a proud, native Angeleno. He was born and raised in Studio City and attended Campbell Hall School for 13 years, graduating as class valedictorian and Most Likely To Wear Sunglasses. In high school, he honed his tutoring skills working with kids at a charter school in Downtown L.A. These days, he calls Philadelphia home - he's working toward a double major in International Relations and American History as a Benjamin Franklin Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. In the future, Sam would love to shake off his illustrious yet nerdy history (high school oratory champion of California, Jeopardy Teen Tournament participant) by being an uber-hip music writer for a major publication, or reporting from exotic locales for National Public Radio. We're rooting for you, Sam!
East Coast Sam is a recent immigrant to Washington, D.C. Although originally from Mississippi, he says that he does not own a single pair of overalls. Sam graduated with Accounting and Economics degrees from Samford University in Birmingham. In his spare time, Sam enjoys long walks through the Beltway rain, watching the news, and defiantly introducing puns into everyday conversation. Sam decided to join the Catalyst team because he wouldn’t have been able to go to an expensive private college without the scholarships yielded by his high test scores, and he wants to see others have the same opportunity.
Sara graduated from Claremont University with a Masters in Applied Women's Studies. During her time there, she was fortunate to gain experience as a teachers' assistant, a position that further cultivated her interest in education. When she's not teaching students speed-reading strategies and all about isosceles triangles, Sara enjoys Bruce Campbell movies and Calvin and Hobbes comics.  
Sara Numero Dos graduated from Cal State Monterey Bay where she received both a BS in Mathematics and BA in Liberal Studies. (The latter involved a field trip to Joe Biden.) As a tutor, she's worked with students of all ages, from pre-kindergarten to college freshmen.
Sara Numero Tres graduated cum laude with a degree in education from Temple University and earned a Master's in education from Cabrini College. She's lived in Philadelphia her whole life and enjoys tutoring because it gives students the individual attention they can't receive in a classroom. Tutoring also gives Sara a chance to share her love of certain academic subjects, and hopefully inspire students to become more interested in learning. When she's not in the classroom or teaching the SAT in students' homes, Sara has many hobbies including reading, watching movies, attending Philly sporting events, bemoaning Philly's sports teams after inevitable losses, and seeing concerts. Sara's also a huge Jim Carrey fan and believes humor should be a big part of teaching.
Sarah with an "h" graduated from Stanford in 2009 with a degree in Human Biology and has been wearing her Stanford sweatshirt ever since. Just kidding, Sarah! (Though we'd certainly wear a Stanford sweatshirt round-the-clock if we'd gone to school in Palo Alto.) She spent the past two years working in both the biotech and health industries, and is looking forward to starting a graduate program this fall at Berkeley's School of Social Welfare. Sarah believes Catalyst is FAN-TASTIC and loves teaching high school students our strategies to ace the SAT and ACT.
Another Sarah with an "h" grew up in Vista, a town in northern San Diego, and graduated in 2005 with a double major in English Literature and Spanish Language / Literature from Loyola Marymount. Sarah went on to earn a Master's in English at Cal State San Marcos and complete her teaching credential in 2007. In addition to teaching and tutoring, Sarah loves reading, traveling, and organizing reunions with friends and family. She studied in Spain during college and volunteered for three weeks with Habitat for Humanity in Argentina. She loves teaching Catalyst's Bootcamps because she has more fun in a classroom of teenagers than she feels she ever could have in an office with adults. (We, the office-dwelling, ping-pong-playing grown-ups at Catalyst would beg to differ, but Sarah's entitled to her opinion.)
Saurabh graduated from Carnegie Mellon, where he studied engineering and architecture and how to survive Pittsburgh's five-month-long winters. He has since relocated to comparatively balmy Washington D.C., where he teaches SAT prep, specializing in math. Saurabh not-so-fondly remembers his own SAT prep experiences and loves Catalyst because our teaching style makes learning to crack the test into a "fun game." When he's not likening our methods to Checkers and Monopoly, Saurabh enjoys movies, reading, and "watching that bald guy who eats all those strange foods on the Travel Channel."
Shashank - please, please, please, no "Shashank Redemption" jokes! - is currently double-majoring in Cell Biology and Neuroscience at Rutgers University and minoring in Chemistry. (Basically, Shashank spends a lot of time in the lab.) Shashank has diverse teaching experiences that range from elementary education to SAT prep to AP tests to college level math, science, and English. He is passionate about tailoring each student's lessons to his or her needs and making sure everyone knows how to solve even the most tricky SAT problems.
Sophia graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Sociology and Political Science. She is passionate about social justice, international development and law (social justice, okay, but law?), and spent a semester abroad in South Africa. She insists that learning can be fun, which is why she loves tutoring students and helping them reach their greatest potential.
Steph grew up in Highland Park, New Jersey, graduated from Princeton, and lives with her cousins in Cherry Hill while saving up for graduate school. (Stephanie: much as we love NJ, you must experience living in a non-Turnpike state for grad school.) Steph majored in Molecular Biology in college (or "MoBio," as Princeton students call it), and plans to work in pharmaceuticals, advancing new drugs for cancer treatment. Steph loves teaching Catalyst's SAT Bootcamps because she tutored the SAT throughout college and never thought teaching the SAT could be so entertaining.
Stephanie was raised up and down the East Coast, most recently in South Florida. She is currently a senior at Princeton University, majoring in Molecular Biology. In her free time, Stephanie likes to read, ski, snowboard, rock-climb, and watch football. She was a competitive gymnast until she began college (when she became more of a cooperative, let’s-all-just-have-a-good-time gymnast). She loves tutoring because she likes the gratification that comes from watching that figurative lightbulb go off above her students’ heads. Fun fact about Steph: She has milked a yak in China.
A talented thespian, Steve acted in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Little Shop of Horrors, Fools, and Noises Off! during his four years at UCLA, and managed to squeeze in enough time to also major in Political Science and minor in English. When he wasn't acting in UCLA's Spring Sing or writing fifteen page papers on symbolism in 20th century literature, Steve led many a late-night study session in Powell Library and in various pizza-box-littered dorm rooms throughout Westwood. In college, Steve was a proud, four-year member of Medleys a Cappella, a community service group that performs at hospitals, convalescent homes, and fundraisers. And, as if all that weren't enough, Steve even got to represent UCLA on the Jeopardy! College Championship, where he didn't win the whole thing, but still got to shake Alex Trebek's hand.
Yet another Steve grew up in Milmont Park, Pennsylvania, a small town home to around 8,000 residents and the very first Wawa convenience store, for those of you who grew up in the mid-Atlantic. During high school, Steve participated in Math Club, Chess Club, and Small Business Club (which has since been replaced by Mortgage Refinance Club), and was also quite active in sports, including soccer, tennis, and varsity backyard wiffleball. After high school and college, Steve earned his MBA and law degree from Rutgers University. He continues to tutor because, after all the tests he's had to take, he's developed a real knack for simplifying complex problems and enjoys helping students think creatively. Steve would also like us to mention that he is the proud owner of two green finches (we're not one hundred percent sure, but are fairly certain finches are birds) and a dozen or so tropical fish.
Steve grew up in Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, but after hearing “Surfing USA” on the radio, he decided to apply to UC-San Diego. While there, Steve developed a love for American football, sports fields with grass instead of sand, and blogging. He also participated in a mid-college extended vacation program (known to some as “study abroad”). Steve now lives in Mira Mesa where he teaches elementary school, tutors SAT/ACT prep, and blogs about surfing (a slightly modernized rendering of the Beach Boy vision). Steve plans to travel abroad again to teach English.
Steven graduated from high school as his class salutatorian, and turned down acceptances from multiple Ivy League schools in order to enroll in the prestigious Accelerated Medical Program at The George Washington University. Even so, he very clearly remembers the dreaded standardized testing and college preparation process. Outside the classroom, Steven has played competitive tennis for the past 12 years, where he applies his sophisticated understanding of physics and trigonometry to a wicked backhand. He loves spreading his wealth of advice about the SAT and ACT so that at least one component of the college admissions slog will be as painless as possible.
Born and raised within the confines of a sheltered and studious suburban community in Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley, Sunny decided to begin tutoring in order to teach other kids how to get the most out of their lives instead of spending all of their free time studying for the SAT as he did during the days own misguided youth. Currently a third-year English Major at UC Santa Barbara, Sunny claims that one has not really lived life to its fullest extent until one has consumed an entire carton of Dreyer’s Mint Cookie Crunch Ice Cream in one sitting. (Despite this claim, Sunny refuses to share any of his ice cream with the rest of the Catalyst staff.) In his free time, Sunny enjoys parkour, spelunking, and baying at the moon. He loves his little brother with reckless abandon and tries to share as many of these activities with him as possible. With the exception of the ice cream, that is. (Again, Sunny is very stingy with the ice cream.)
Suraj is a senior at Carnegie Mellon University studying Decision Science and Business Administration. He loves tutoring because it gives him a chance to help students shape their own futures. In his spare time he likes to read, play basketball, volunteer, and just generally be an all around amazing guy. We don't disagree, Suraj: you are amazing! When he's not guru-ing, Suraj also dabbles in stand-up comedy but promises not to include your family in any of his bits.
Tanner grew up on a horse ranch in the Iowa countryside (disclaimer: this is not the first line to a Steinbeck novel) and attended the University of Iowa, where he majored in Theatre Arts and Nonprofit Management. Tanner recently moved to Houston where he still can't get used to how BIG everything is. His interests include writing, cooking, drinking way too much coffee, and listening to music and NPR. His favorite thing about tutoring is getting to watch those moments when students suddenly recognize a pattern in the SAT and can turn around and use that knowledge to their advantage.
Tarah came to Catalyst by way of Kenosha, Wisconsin, the fourth largest city on the shores of Lake Michigan, according to Google. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison with a B.A. in English and earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Irvine. Tarah teaches because Catalyst's curriculum is fun, interesting and "not at all boring." (A very high compliment when it comes to SAT prep.) When she's not helping students ace standardized tests, Tarah enjoys reading, baking (especially pies), rooting for her beloved Milwaukee Brewers, and singing. Tarah maintains that her biggest teaching skill is her patience. She believes students can master virtually any concept, no matter how complex, if they have someone patient enough to guide them through the process.
Taylor grew up in a tiny town in Michigan called Monroe and graduated Magna Cum Laude a semester early from a small liberal arts college, Aquinas. When he isn't helping students, he enjoys acting, singing, writing, watching sports, running, swimming, and going to concerts. He believes his greatest strength as a tutor is his ability to relate to people and get teenagers to overcome challenges.
Tiffany is that rarest of California residents: the LA native. (Unlike 90% of her fellow Angelinos, she didn’t relocate from the Midwest, Texas, New York, Colorado, Brazil, or anywhere else.) Consequently, she now lives in San Diego. This fall, Tiffany will head to medical school at UCSD. Her hobbies include tennis, swimming, violin, and writing, which you'll note were the preferred pastimes of Sigmund Freud, Katherine Hepburn, Sherlock Holmes, and Dr. Watson, respectively. In fact, it's the very combination of keen insight, intelligence, and dynamic energy associated with those four individuals that Tiffany brings to her work with students. Coincidence? We think not.
Tim - a.k.a "tutor extraordinaire" - is a recent alumnus from Northwestern University, where he earned a B.S. in Theatre and a minor in Creative Writing. When he's not helping Los Angeles's youth do battle with the SAT and ACT, he enjoys sketch comedy, old movies (you know, like Forrest Gump), and salt-and-vinegar potato chips. We know this last part because Tim occasionally helps us out in the office and raids our famous snack shelf when no one's looking.
Another, no less extraordinary Tim also graduated from Northwestern, majoring in Philosophy and English / Creative Writing with an emphasis on poetry. He grew up in central Pennsylvania, in a small town called Montoursville, which Tim describes as very rural. Tim loves one-on-one tutoring because it's flexible to the needs of each student (or small groups of students), and the informal, non-classroom setting really allows teenagers to engage in the process and feel relaxed enough to ask questions. (Tim's successfully tutored his two younger brothers and knows what it takes to get teenagers to pay attention.) When he's not guru-ing for Catalyst, Tim enjoys travel and acting and once was an alternate cast member on a short-lived reality TV show called The Scholar. (Surprisingly, watching people engage in intellectual conversations and read The Economist didn't prove as popular in America as The Biggest Loser.)
Timothy is a recent graduate of Yale University, and is now studying theoretical physics as a graduate student at UC Irvine. (Basically, Tim is very, very smart.) He scored a 1570 on the SAT (in the pre-2400 era!) and has extensive tutoring experience in such subjects as science, math, and even Russian. His personal interests include music of all kinds, computer programming, game theory, theatre (especially the works of Gilbert & Sullivan), and living a happy and fulfilling life. Neither the snake nor Timothy's pompadour was harmed during the production of his photo.
Todd didn't let a little major in Mechanical Engineering keep him from competing in soccer and cross-country during college, and he's stayed active since graduation, serving as a life coach and a professional poker player.  (Note to self: Do not try bluffing Todd during Catalyst's next poker tournament.) Todd is a former state chess champion and his love of teaching has led him to mentor students to success in chess, soccer, and poker. He recently achieved his dream of launching a really small hedge fund and is working on making it into a really big hedge fund.
Tristan holds a B.S. in biochemistry and an M.S. in chemistry from UC Riverside, and earned a PhD in genetics from George Washington University in 2009. (In case Tristan's schedule is full, he has a few human clones lying around that might be able to tutor your son or daughter.) When he's not serving as one of Catalyst's SAT Bootcamp gurus, Tristan holds a slightly more impressive job as a scientist at the NIH, helping to further cancer research. Originally from Los Angeles, Tristan is an avid surfer, formidable Scrabble competitor, and lead guitarist in a rock band that performs regularly around D.C.
A refugee from Vero Beach, Florida, Tyler earned a degree in history and a Master's in Theology from Greenville Seminary, diplomas he finds creative ways to utilize as an actor and stand-up in Los Angeles. Tyler loves tutoring SAT prep because he's great at motivating high school students and getting them to see standardized tests as completely unworthy of dread. Tyler has performed in several comedy festivals around the country and considers Lemonheads his favorite candy.
Valerie is originally from New York City and loves soccer (American soccer, not to be confused with the “footy” that British Dan plays). After earning an International Baccalaureate Diploma in high school, Valerie moved on to McGill University where she majored in History, minored in Russian, and tutored at the McGill Writing Centre. Valerie recently moved to LA (where they spell it “the Beverly Center”) to pursue her creative passions. When she’s not acting, writing, or participating in improv theatre(er?), Valerie enjoys helping students with standardized test prep.
Vanessa was born and raised in New Jersey and graduated from Rutgers University in 2008 with a joint Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Political Science. While in school, she interned for two members of the House of Representatives, belonged to a number of honor societies, and was active in both her sorority (Delta Gamma) and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs. In addition to her work as a Catalyst guru, Vanessa has designed training programs for a software company and is about to complete a two-year master’s program (in Corporate and Organizational Communication) in just a single year. When she’s not guiding Catalyst students through the SAT/ACT labyrinth, she teaches hip hop and jazz to six-year-olds.
Virginia grew up in a family of five girls (like the Bennets) in a state that had the same name as she did. She graduated from the University of Richmond with a degree in Biology. After college, she taught high school for seven years, where she averaged 42 students per class. Not coincidentally, Virginia became a strong believer that education is more effective in less populous settings -- small groups and one-on-one -- which is why she started tutoring. In her spare time, Virginia loves photography and both watching and playing basically every sport. (In high school, she participated in track, cross country, tennis, and hockey.) She also loves traveling internationally. Her favorite spots include Paris, Montserrat, Pompeii, and Vancouver (pretty much any place where French is spoken and/or there’s a volcano).
As a high school senior, all her friends and relatives told Yannan she was crazy for turning down Berkeley to go to UCLA, but Yannan's thrilled she decided to become a Bruin and spend four years in Westwood. At UCLA, after a lot of "back-and-forthing," Yannan decided to major in Economics and minor in Education Studies, a combination that will prepare her for a career in business or teaching. Yannan was born in China, immigrated to the U.S. when she was four, and moved around quite a bit as a kid. Her family landed in Michigan but soon moved to South Dakota. From South Dakota, they relocated to Riverside, CA, which she considers home. In high school, Yannan's parents enrolled her in an SAT prep class for the whole summer. She recalls not exactly loving the prospect of spending her vacation studying, but also really enjoyed the class because the instructor was fun and the math section seemed like a giant puzzle. Yannan makes sure to imbue her Catalyst lessons with the same sense of creativity and fun, and, thanks to her theatre and improv comedy training at UCLA, is one of Catalyst's most edu-taining gurus.
Yiran was born in Beijing, China, and moved to Potomac, MD, at age 12, where she went to Thomas Wootton High School (“The Fightin’ Maryland Constitutional Delegates!”) She graduated from Dartmouth with a double major in Biology & Environmental Studies. One of the many Catalyst globetrotters, Yiran has been to four continents, taught English, science, and music to disadvantaged elementary school children in a rural China, and is a certified scuba diver. She’s fluent in Mandarin and conversational French, and the only thing that holds her back from passing for a native Spaniard is the fact that she can’t roll her Rs. She loves to garden, sing in choirs, and read.
Yvonne grew up in Palo Alto and graduated from UC San Diego with a double major (Probability/Statistics and Management Science) and a minor (Humanities) in just four years. Yvonne’s hobbies include chaos theory, gently correcting the grammatical errors in her colleagues’ emails, and watching Asian cinema. (Be sure to ask her about the latest Wong Kar-wai.) She played the bassoon in high school and can still kind of wail on the solo from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Zach was born in San Bernardino, CA, and lived there until the age of ten, when he moved to Maryland to live in a log cabin. Even at such a young age, Zach was inspired, apparently, by readings of Thoreau and Emerson. Eventually, Zach returned to the West (and the 21st century) to attend Pepperdine. In college, he studied abroad in Argentina, majored in theatre and Spanish, and appeared in over six separate productions of Evita. After school, Zach traveled even more extensively in South America, from the beaches of Brazil to the mountains of (his favorite place of all time) Patagonia, where he acquired both a giant manservant and a stylish and functional fleece jacket. Zach brings a globetrotting sense of adventure to every tutoring session.
Zara graduated magna cum laude from California State University, Fullerton with a BA in English Literature and a Teaching Credential. She worked as a writing tutor for two years, and is currently teaching English, grammar, and writing at the Secondary Level. She specializes in SAT, ACT, and TOEFL prep, and hopes Catalyst never hires anyone named Zelda or Zoe, so she can remain the last guru on our list.