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Introducing Paula Friedman,
Founder and Principal College & Career Advisor

Paula Friedman founded The Academic Match in 2011 and serves as the practice's managing director and principal college and career advisor. She is the business lead and co-creator of BIG Essay Ideas Cards, a unique tool that provides inspiration for thoughtful personal statements/essays for college, graduate school, internships and scholarships.

Paula earned her UCLA Extension College Counseling Certificate With Distinction, attended the IECA Summer Training Institute, and interned in the Newbury Park High School College & Career Center (where she still volunteers or works). Paula has been an official Substitute College & Career Guidance Specialist for the Conejo Valley Unified School District for the past two years.

Paula is an active member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), Western Association for College Admission Counseling (WACAC) and Higher Educational Consultants Association (HECA).

Paula is a magna cum laude graduate of Duke University, where she double-majored in Psychology and French. While at Duke, Paula worked in the Duke University Admissions Office for all four years, reviewing student applications and portfolios. She received her MBA from the University of Michigan Ross Graduate School of Business, where she concentrated in Marketing and worked in the Career Placement Office for two years.

Paula’s professional background is in marketing research and consumer insights. She worked on numerous internationally recognized brands for a wide range of consumer product companies, including Gatorade at The Quaker Oats Company (PepsiCo), Capri Sun, Crystal Light, and Kool-Aid at Kraft, Nesquik at Nestle, as well as most products in the Newman’s Own portfolio and for Dole.

As a Duke Alumni Admissions Interviewer for over 20 years, Paula interviewed high school seniors with a keen interest in attending Duke. She enjoys being a Reader for two non-profit organizations that award scholarships to college applicants and finds this volunteer work to be highly rewarding.

Paula was inspired to become a college counselor after being asked to help the high school children of her friends and relatives with their college selection process, applications and essays. She enjoys assisting young adults with their college essays and admissions interviews, helping them effectively articulate their personal journeys and achievements. Paula is proud to have helped many students navigate their college admissions journey and to provide the guidance and enthusiasm needed in order for the application process to be less overwhelming and less stressful for students and their families.

At CSU-Bakersfield in 2016, at UC-Berkeley in June 2011 and at University of Redlands in July 2010, Paula volunteered as a Pro Bono College/Writing Coach at College Summit Workshops designed to strengthen the college-going culture among low income students. Paula guided 4-6 students through the writing process, opened doors to reflection and empowerment, and helped each student to construct a personal statement for college.

In addition to her active participation in local community service projects, Paula has been a Koreh L.A. Literacy Program Volunteer at Canoga Park Elementary School and a Reading for Kids Volunteer for the Los Angeles Unified School District. She has thoroughly enjoyed helping young children to improve their reading skills and social competencies.

Paula has been married to her husband Howard for almost 30 years. Their older son Dan attended Santa Barbara City College and is pursuing his entrepreneurial dream (www.MyFuelBox.com). Their younger son Jeremy graduated from Indiana University, double majoring in Finance and International Business, and works for JP Morgan (private wealth management) in NYC.

Introducing Jodi Sears, College and Career Advisor

Jodi Sears, who joined The Academic Match in 2014, received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She also studied abroad at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, and at the University of Salamanca, Spain. As an undergraduate, she also studied broadcast journalism and interned with Western Public radio and KGO-Radio in San Francisco. She received a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Southern California, where she graduated Beta Gamma Sigma. Her graduate fellowship was in the Career Placement Office at the Marshall School of Business, where she coordinated speaker panels and industry recruitment events, as well as internships and job search workshops. Her professional background is in retail, marketing and advertising. As an executive with a major Los Angeles advertising agency, she managed multi-million dollar budgets and advertising campaigns for a variety of internationally recognized brands.

Jodi has been actively involved in the Las Virgenes Unified School District (LVUSD), serving as the Donation Drive Chair, GATE Math Olympiad instructional assistant, and Western Association of Schools and Colleges Parents’ Committee Representative. Jodi volunteered for many years in the Agoura High School College and Career Center and currently helps students at college essay writing workshops at both Agoura and Calabasas High Schools. She was elected to the Agoura High School Site Council and was selected by the district to serve on the Curriculum Council, Rigor Task Force and the College and Career advisory committee.

Jodi has a son who graduated cum laude from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with both a Bachelors and Masters degrees in Accounting and is working as a CPA at EY. She has a son who graduated from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California and was a Presidential Scholarship recipient. He will be attending Boston College Law School. Her daughter is a sophomore at Indiana University studying Environmental Studies and Speech & Hearing Sciences. Jodi has successfully helped numerous students navigate the college application process and knows it can be less overwhelming and more exciting with the enthusiasm and guidance of an experienced college counselor. She completed her certificate at UCLA in College Counseling, Earned with Distinction. Jodi is a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), Western Association for College Admission Counseling (WACAC) and the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA).

Introducing Laura Gallop, Writing Assistant

Laura Gallop has worked with Paula Friedman at The Academic Match for the past several years as a writing advisor to high school students, assisting them with their college application essays. She enjoys the process of helping students transform a rough draft essay into a final version that showcases the student's unique strengths, passions, qualities, and character. Laura is particularly skilled at making sure the student's personal statement is reflective of his or her experiences, is grammatically correct, and is clearly written with the student's own voice.

Laura earned her Bachelor's Degree in Social Science from the University of California-Berkeley and her Master's Degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. In addition to helping high school students with their college essays/personal statements, Laura has also edited memoirs and small business marketing materials. She was a Senior Analyst for the City of San Jose where she wrote several successful grants and was the department editor for a multitude of written materials. She focused on youth programming, oversaw a city-wide afterschool homework center program, and worked with the Gang Prevention Unit.

Laura also worked for the Cal Alumni Association, where her responsibilities included coordinating information sessions for newly admitted students and supervising the Alumni Scholarship interview process in Southern California. During her free time, Laura is a volunteer Deputy Commissioner of Civil Marriages for the County of Los Angeles and enjoys performing civil weddings in the San Fernando Valley. She also serves on the Every 15 Minutes Committee at Agoura High School, a biennial program that realistically portrays the dangers and consequences of driving under the influence or distracted driving.

Laura and her husband Michael have two sons. Their oldest graduated from UCLA, majoring in Communications. Their youngest attends UC-Berkeley. Both sons received college essay guidance from their mother.

Introducing Jennifer Litner, Writing Assistant

Jennifer Litner is a writing advisor and interviewing specialist. She has been a part of The Academic Match team for the past few years assisting students and post-graduate professionals with college essays, interview preparation and navigating the often-intimidating search for employment.

Jennifer currently conducts college interviews for the admissions department at a private research university, which lends her a unique perspective when coaching The Academic Match students and providing feedback during preparatory mock interviews. As an advisor, Jennifer's style is warm and directive as she hopes to help students thrive at their highest potential.

Jennifer earned her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. At Tulane, Jennifer became a certified Peer Health Educator and provided counseling to undergraduate students at the Center for Health and Wellness Promotion.

Jennifer received her Master of Science (M.S.) in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. In Jennifer's clinical practicum, she provided psychotherapy for couples, families, and adults of various ages, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. She utilizes a strengths-based approach with her clients and has a collaborative work style.

Additionally, Jennifer has experience working with adolescents in both educational and recreational settings. She co-staffed a 36-day bus tour across the U.S. for high school students, facilitating discussions about American history, cultural identity and political activism. She spent several summers working as a camp counselor and a Red Cross certified water safety instructor teaching swimming lessons to kids of different ages. Jennifer's dedication to wellness and teamwork continued through her involvement with Girls On The Run International, an after school program through which she coached running and served as the director's assistant for the Southeast Louisiana region.

Jennifer is passionate about assisting students and post-grads with optimizing their professional image, increasing their confidence with networking, crafting personal statements, preparing for an admissions or job interview, navigating a job search, finding a meaningful internship, creating a resume/cover letter and last, but not least, proofreading documents. Jennifer brings her enthusiasm and optimism to our team at The Academic Match and offers value-added services for our students.

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