Image of Dr. Sterk the Director of College Advising.

Dr. Amanda Sterk

Co-Director of College and Career Advising

Dr. Amanda Sterk is the Co – Director of College and Career Advising at Method Learning. Through her years of experience, Dr. Sterk has helped thousands of students plan their academic futures, explore career options, and apply and succeed for college admissions and scholarships.

She is co-author of the nationally recognized college admissions workbook, College UnMazed: Your Guide to Navigate the High School to College Maze. A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Drake University, and Creighton University, Dr. Sterk graduated with a Bachelors in Education, a Master’s in Counseling, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership.

Born in Iowa, Dr. Sterk taught in high-performing schools in Africa and Latin America before settling in Cape Coral, Florida. Along with her husband, Heath, and two teenage daughters, Eden and Rilah, Dr. Sterk enjoys many outdoor activities in SW Florida, including paddleboarding and biking.

Dr. Jessica Ruzicka

Co-Director of College and Career Advising

Dr. Ruzicka is originally from New York but now resides in South Carolina. With over 25 years of experience advising students and families throughout the college process, she has worked in various college environments, including financial aid, admissions, academic advising, career development, and program development. She was the Director of College and Academic Planning at a private K-12 school. She taught students about college admissions, advised them on choosing a challenging course load, helped them pick a major, and assisted in creating a strong college essay and resume. Dr. Ruzicka has a deep passion for helping students and their families through the transition from high school to college, as well as guiding them in choosing the best college, major, and career path that are a perfect fit for them.

Education

2010 – Doctorate in Education – Nova Southeastern University, FL

2003 – Masters in Higher Education Administration – University of Rochester, NY

1998 – Bachelors in Psychology – Chatham University, PA

Cerita Bickelmann Grotts

Director of College Financial Advising

Cerita graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Law and Society and Physical Anthropology. She then continued her educational pursuits graduating with a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Southern California. Her career prior to joining Method Learning was in higher education with particular focus in student financial literacy and college financial aid. Cerita’s passion is to help students and families navigate the college process and assist with setting students up for success with their educational endeavors. When she’s off the clock, Cerita enjoys spending time with her two toddlers, camping, reading, and line dancing (if there’s a spare moment).

Jenna Thiel, M.A.

College and Career Advisor

As a first generation in college student, I am vested in helping students achieve success as they consider their pathway for life after high school. With over 19 years of experience in education, I am a highly accomplished college and career advisor with expertise in public and higher education. I have worked professionally in admissions, academic advising, student success coaching, and as a scholarship manager. I am honored to get to work with your student and I look forward to helping them cultivate their story in the college admissions process.

Blair Dean

College Advisor

Blair Dean is a College Advisor for Method Learning. With 20+ years of experience, she has spent most of her career working with high school students and their families to plan for the best path to post-secondary success. Having worked in a variety of settings from undergraduate admissions, non-profit work, public schools and independent counseling, she has a wealth of knowledge from all sides of the college planning process to offer students and families. Blair graduated with her Bachelors in Child and Family Development from the University of Georgia, and a Masters in Education Policy and Leadership from Harvard University.

Originally from Illinois, Blair now resides in Nashville TN with her husband, David, and 9-year-old son. Together they enjoy exploring all that “music city” has to offer from sporting events, music, hiking and hanging out with friends and family.

Lauren McClellan

College Advisor

Lauren hails from Atlanta, GA and currently resides in the Upstate of South Carolina, where she enjoys a variety of outdoor activities afforded by the surrounding lakes and Appalachian foothills. In addition to her degrees in Special Education and Educational Leadership, she has gained valuable experience working in the K12 environment through teaching, developing curriculum, managing special education efforts, and supporting career exploration and transition for students from the high school setting into their post-secondary opportunities.

For the past 6+ years Lauren has worked in the higher education setting managing student support and accommodations, expanding institution wide access and inclusion efforts, and developing transition supports for students starting or restarting their college journey. Lauren is passionate about supporting students as they explore college and career options and transition into the next phase of their journey. She believes that by equipping students (and their support network!) with the knowledge and understanding of “how to college” and use the tools, supports, and resources available to them, we can promote growth, success, and an overall amazing college experience.

When not working with students, Lauren can be found adventuring with her two boys and husband, trying new foods, or playing with her dogs.

Sarah Steele

College Advisor

Sarah has helped hundreds of students and families navigate the college admissions process through her position as the Assistant Director of College and Academic Planning at a private K-12 school in South Carolina. She understands all the parts of the college planning process, the timeline, what it takes to execute a comprehensive college search, how to write an essay that will stand out and the most effective way to complete college applications as well as what courses to take in high school that will ensure collegiate success. The most rewarding aspect of her role in college advising is coming alongside students as they develop a college search plan, proceed into the application process and finalize acceptance into an institution. She enjoys spending time with her family especially when it can be at the lake on a paddleboard.

Carolyn Kost

College Advisor

Carolyn has over twenty years of experience in college counseling in boarding and day schools and private practice. Whe has held various positions in six universities, studied in ten, and visited over 150. In addition to the UCLA Graduate Certificate in College Counseling, Carolyn holds master’s degrees in social science and information science and has completed all the requirements and exams for a PhD. Her students have attended all of the Ivy and Ivy Plus, including MIT and CalTech; UCAS, Australian, and Canadian universities; and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She also assists students with graduate and professional school admissions.

She has published over 100 articles for a variety of publications and co-authored several books, with another in progress. Her book Engage! Setting the Course for Independent Secondary Schools in the 21st Century has been used as a textbook at Johns Hopkins Graduate School of Education. She is bilingual in Spanish and has lived and traveled widely in Chile, Mexico, Colombia, and Trinidad, West Indies.

Kala Jones, Ph.D.

College Advisor

Kala has over nine years of experience in education. Many of these years were spent as a college advisor in public schools and private practice. On her quest to reshape the educational landscape, she has held various positions within the public school system as well as with top outside education organizations. Kala has leveraged her wealth of experience and unwavering commitment to student success to guide her students through the intricate maze of college choices, scholarships and financial aid. As a result, her students have gained admissions to Ivy and Ivy Plus universities, top liberal arts and single-gendered colleges, and prominent research institutions. She also assists students with graduate school admissions and highly selective scholarships such as Posse and QuestBridge.

Kala holds several degrees from top US colleges and universities. In addition to her PhD in Teaching and Learning, she holds an educational specialist degree as well as psychology, english and biology degrees. She is widely traveled and is committed to assisting scholars reach their post-secondary goals.

Dr. Tim Poynton

College Advisor

Dr. Tim Poynton has been a school counselor, counselor educator, and researcher for 24 years. He is currently an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he teaches college counseling and career counseling courses at the graduate level to current and future school counselors. He has also taught undergraduate students in a course titled “Work and Play: Counseling Skills for Life.”

Dr. Poynton earned an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree from the State University of New York at Albany, and an Ed.D. from Boston University. Dr. Poynton has published more than 30 peer reviewed publications, books, and book chapters, and has delivered more than 100 presentations across the country on topics ranging from college choice and career development to research methods and assessment in school counseling. Most recently, the focus of his work has been on supporting College UnMazed (www.collegeunmazed.com) in developing books and other resources to support students and families in the college choice process.

Kathy Vogdes

College Advisor

With a background in law and a passion for helping students find their best-fit colleges, Kathy has been assisting families through the college admissions process for the past several years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from Indiana University Bloomington and a law degree from DePaul University College of Law. Kathy has practiced law for over 25 years in practice areas, including litigation, corporate law, intellectual property, and alternative dispute resolution. She is also a content writer and editor for LexisNexis. In her spare time, Kathy is active with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) of Illinois, where she is an essay grader for the LLS Scholarship for Blood Cancer Survivors and serves as the Chairman of the Leadership Committee for the Student Visionaries of the Year campaign. Kathy’s strengths lie in helping students discover their best-fit colleges by creating personalized college lists that align with each student’s unique preferences, goals, academic qualifications, and budget. Her in-depth knowledge of colleges and universities, coupled with her strong research and writing skills, ensures that every aspect of the college search and application process is meticulously handled. Kathy has a background in assisting students of all types of academic profiles and has navigated the college admissions process as both a parent and advisor.

Colleges/Degrees –
J.D. IN LAW

DePaul University College of Law, Chicago, IL

BACHELOR OF ARTS IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS
Indiana University Bloomington, IN

Specialty – students on a pre-professional track, students with 504, IEP, or learning disabilities, extra-curricular and course selection, college list building

Bralyn L. Beathea

College Advisor

Bralyn L. Beathea is a dedicated advocate for educational advancement and servant leadership, with seven years of experience as a college admissions consultant. He has successfully guided students to top universities including Brown, University of Michigan, Harvard, UCLA, Northeastern, Georgetown, and Vanderbilt. Bralyn excels in developing educational programs, forming strategic partnerships, and nurturing individual growth. His background from the Michiana region near the Michigan-Indiana border brings a unique perspective shaped by diverse communities. Holding a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Bralyn champions inclusive education practices. Bralyn is a champion of education, inspiring positive change and fostering innovation within the educational landscape.

University of Nevada,
Masters in Education, Higher Education December

Indiana State University
Bachelor’s of Science, Recreation & Sport Management

Specialities
College Essay, Common Application, Naviance, College Applications, School Selection, Brag Sheets, Financial Aid

Nichelle Haymore

College Advisor

Nichelle has over twenty years of experience in college counseling and student services. She has held various positions in public schools, private schools, and nonprofit organizations while being a certified K-12 School Counselor in Florida and Texas. Her students have attended all the Ivy and Ivy Plus,single-gendered colleges, top liberal arts, and prominent research institutions. They have also experienced success with highly selective scholarships such as Posse and QuestBridge. She also has expertise in International admissions with, UCAS, IE School in Madrid and Barcelona and the Universities in the Netherlands. Nichelle enjoys assisting students with graduate and professional school admission and understanding the difference in NCAA Athletic Divisions recruiting offers. She has designed and led several professional development trainings on College Access and Career Development and has worked with community youth organizations on how to determine post-secondary options based on academic fit. Nichelle while born in Miami, Florida was raised abroad, having previously lived in Cairo, Egypt, Istanbul, Turkey, Santa Cruz, Bolivia and London England. She continues to travel extensively while spending time with her daughter. Getting Started: Nichelle will contact both your parent and student email to set up the first meeting and any after that. We suggest that you send Nichelle any academic information that may be helpful, such as an unofficial transcript and test scores (e.g., ACT, PSAT, SAT).

Specialties

Ivy and Ivy Plus,single-gendered colleges, top liberal arts, and prominent research institutions, UCAS, IE-Madrid& Barcelona, Universities in the Netherlands NCAA Athletic Divisions recruiting offers,

MASTER OF ARTS (GUIDANCE & COUNSELING)
Prairie View A&M University Prairie View, TX
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE (MAJOR: BIOLOGY, MINOR: CHEMISTRY)
Prairie View A&M University

Dr. Sohyun Tallis Lee

College Advisor

Dr. Lee is an academic and college counselor. Dr. Lee has a Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership and has worked as a counselor, educator, and learning developer in K-12 education and leadership coaching for over 20 years. She has placed students at such schools as Yale, Stanford, Johns Hopkins University, Duke, Cornell, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, and UCs. Dr. Lee has extensive experience working with students of all ages and backgrounds. She has worked with high school students who are looking to get into their first-choice college, international students who need to acclimate to the American school system, students who want to maintain academic success as freshmen in college, as well as entry-level and mid-career professionals who need leadership coaching. Dr. Lee has designed, developed, evaluated, and implemented individual success planning over 25 years of being a counselor, educator, and administrator. She has counseled and mentored numerous students and their families to achieve all aspects of student success and wellness.

Specialities – California Schools – Students’ well-being – International Students

Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership
Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology, Los Angeles, California
Dissertation: A Phenomenological Study of Flourishing in Mid-Career Professionals

Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies
Fuller Theological Seminary; Pasadena, California

Bachelor of Arts in Music

Dr. Andrea Elzy

College Advisor

Dr. Elzy has over 15 years of experience in higher education. She completed two bachelor’s degrees at the University of California at Santa Cruz and earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Southern California. She also possesses a certificate from Harvard University in K-12 education policy. Drea has taught at USC, UC Santa Cruz, and California State University at Northridge. She has also worked on numerous college campuses in different capacities, supporting students and faculty in various roles. As a first-generation college student herself, Drea is passionate about working with students from all walks of life to help them achieve their college and career goals.

Certificate: Advanced Education and Executive Leadership
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA | Online Program

Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration Leadership
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration Student Affairs
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology (Double Major)
University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

College Essay, list building, foundations.

Dr. Roberto Suarez

College Advisor

Dr. Suarez is a school counselor and robotics educator with 20+ years of experience in college and admission counseling. He has a wide range of experience focused on helping students achieve their educational goals and discovering their highest potential. Over the years, Roberto has held positions in college and international admission counseling, STEM and world language education, legal research, public relations, political advising, acting, motivational speaking, and financial investment consulting. A co-founding committee member of College Board’s BigFuture, Roberto is regularly invited to sit on advisory boards and uses his years of experience for helping colleges design student match initiatives and help build tools and provide resources for students and families to navigate the college admission process. Roberto attributes living an unimaginable dream because of the individuals who’ve crossed his path, especially, his high school physics teacher and school counselor.

Along with his amazing wife, a special education teacher, Roberto has two incredible children who love piano, theater, soccer, dance and aspire to become a pediatrician and lawyer. Outside his professional life, Roberto is an avid reader who enjoys practicing Kung Fu and Taekwondo, working out, stock trading, real estate investing, playing chess, and spending vacations with his family on the lake or next to the ocean.

MIT Sloan School of Management
Executive Program Certificate in Economics

DePaul University
Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership

Lewis University
Master of Arts in School Counseling
Master of Business Administration
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Psychology

Specialties
College list & resume building, highly selective college advising, career & academic planning, financial aid counseling, Common Application, Naviance, Schoolinks, NCAA, NAIA, Posse, QuestBridge

Parent Testimonials

The one-on-one support Dr. Sterk provided during my daughter’s college application process was instrumental. She has a great perspective that helps guide the transition from high school to the collegiate program that will help every student reach their desired career.

Dr. Rafael Alcalde, Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

We found Amanda’s assistance essential for each step of the process. She is well worth the investment! Amanda did review Jessica’s essays and helped her improve them. Jessica applied to out-of-state schools (UVA, Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, Lewis and Clark and Vanderbilt) but did also apply to in-state Florida schools as her first choice was University of Florida. She earned the 100% bright futures and is attending UF for her undergraduate degree in English and plans to pursue law.

Amber Braatz, Finley Wealth Advisors

As parents as well as the karate owners / instructors for Kobayashi Dojo. We have experienced and observed so many high school students along with their parents try to navigate the difficult and complicated college admission process. There are so many steps that must be taken to successfully complete this process correctly. Our job as Karate teachers is to motivate and guide them through what they want to study. Dr. Sterk organizes the admission process smoothly and succinctly with her many years of experience. She has been helping the Dojo, our students, and their parents for many years. We feel the best solutions come from working together as one team. We highly recommend the many benefits that everyone can glean from Dr. Sterk.

Kobayashi Dojo, Inc.

When I kept seeing the number of scholarships come in we just could not believe it. Not only did Marissa have 10 colleges to choose from, but she totaled over $300,000 worth of scholarships. I am amazed at all the options our daughter has even with low test scores and a disability. Dr. Sterk changed our family’s lives.

Tina Katz

Post Secondary Institutions Acceptances

American College
American University
Amherst College
Anderson University
Appalachian State University
Arizona State University
Asbury University
Auburn University
Barry University
Barton College
Baylor University
Bellarmine University
Belmont Abbey College
Belmont University
Benedict College
Berry College
Bob Jones University
Boston University
Brevard College
Bridge to Clemson University
Brigham Young University
Brown University
California Polytechnic State University
Campbell University
Carson-Newman University
Case Western Reserve University
Catholic University of America
Cedarville University
Charleston Southern University
Christian University
Clemson University
Clemson University – Calhoun Honors College
Coastal Carolina University
Coker College
College Lawrence University
College of Charleston
College of Charleston Bridge
College of Saint Rose
Colorado State
Columbia College Columbia College – Chicago
Columbia University
Converse College
Cornell University
Covenant College
Creighton University
Davidson College
DePaul University DePauw University
Dordt College
East Carolina University
East Tennessee State University
East Tennessee State University Honors College
Eckerd College
Elon University
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical
Emerson College
Emory University
Erskine College
Fairmont State University
Faulkner University
Flagler College
Florida A&M University
Florida Atlantic University
Florida Gulf Coast University
Florida Institute of Technology
Florida International University
Florida Polytechnic University
Florida Southern College
Florida Southern University
Florida State University
Fordham University
Francis Marion University
Furman University
Gardner-Webb University
Geneva College
George Washington University
Georgetown University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Southern University
Georgia State University
Georgia Tech University
Grand Canyon University
Grinnell College
Guilford College
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampton University
Hawaii Pacific University
High Point University
Hillsdale College
Howard University
Indiana University
Iowa University
Jacksonville University

James Madison University
John Brown University
Johns Hopkins University
Johnson & Wales
Keiser University
Kenyon College
King’s College
Knox College
Lake Forest College
Lander University
Lander University Honors
Lee University
Lees-McRae College
Lehigh University
Lenoir-Rhyne University
Lewis & Clark College
Liberty University
Limestone College
Livingstone College
Louisiana State University
Loyola University Chicago
Marist College
Marquette University
Mars Hill University
Marymount Manhattan College
Maryville College
Mercer University
Miami University
Michigan State University
Middle Georgia State University
Middle Tennessee State University
Milligan College
Mississippi State University
Missouri State University
Nazareth College
New College of Florida
New York Fashion Institute of Technology
New York Institute of Technology
New York University
Newberry College
North Carolina A&T State University
North Carolina Central University
North Carolina State University
North Greenville University
Northeastern University
Northern Illinois University
Nova Southeastern University
NYU (Stern School of Business)
Oglethorpe University
Ohio State University
Old Dominion University
Olivet Nazarene University
Pace University
Palm Beach Atlantic University
Parsons the New School of Art & Design
Penn State University Pepperdine
Pensacola Christian College
Pfeiffer University
Point Loma Nazarene University
Point Park University
Pratt Institute
Presbyterian College
Princeton University
Purdue University
Queens University of Charlotte
Reinhardt University
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rhodes College
Rice University
Ringling College of Art & Design
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rollins College
Rutgers University
Salem International University
Samford University
Santa Monica College
Savannah College of Art & Design
South Carolina State University
Southeastern University
Southern Wesleyan University
Stanford University
State University of New York (SUNY) – Albany
Stetson University
Stony Brook University
Syracuse University
Temple University
Texas A&M Texas
Texas A&M University
The Citadel
Troy University
Tulane University
Tusculum University

United States Air Force Academy
United States Military Academy at West Point
United States Naval Academy
University of Alabama – Honors College
University of Alabama – Huntsville
University of Alabama University of Alabama – Birmingham
University of Arizona
University of Arkansas
University of California – Berkeley
University of California – Davis
University of California – Irvine
University of California – San Diego
University of California – Santa Barbara
University of California – Santa Cruz
University of California-Davis
University of Central Florida
University of Chicago
University of Colorado
University of Colorado – Boulder
University of Connecticut
University of Denver
University of East London
University of Florida
University of Florida (Honors & Research Scholars Program)
University of Georgia
University of Hawaii
University of Hawaii of Manoa
University of Illinois
University of Illinois Urbana – Champaign
University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign
University of Iowa
University of Kansas
University of Kentucky
University of Louisville – Honors Program
University of Manitoba, Canada
University of Maryland
University of Massachusetts – Amherst
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
University of Miami
University of Miami University of Mississippi
University of Minnesota
University of N.C. – Asheville
University of N.C. – Chapel Hill University of N.C. – Charlotte
University of N.C. – Wilmington
University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill
University of North Florida
University of Northern Iowa
University of Oklahoma
University of Oklahoma University of Oregon
University of Pennsylvania- LSM (Life Sciences & Management)
University of Pennsylvania- Wharton Business School
University of Pittsburgh University of Pittsburgh Honors College
University of South Carolina Upstate
University of South Carolina – Beaufort
University of South Carolina – Gateway Program
University of South Carolina – Honors College
University of South Carolina University of South Carolina – Aiken
University of South Carolina- Bluffton
University of South Florida
University of Tampa
University of Tampa University of Tennessee
University of Texas – Austin
University of Texas – Dallas
University of Toledo
University of Toronto
University of Utah
University of Virginia
University of Washington
University of West Florida
University of Wisconsin
University Piedmont College
University Sewanee: The University of the South
Valparaiso University
Vanderbilt University
Virginia College
Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech University
Voorhees College
Wake Forest University
Washington and Lee University
Wayne State University
Wesleyan College
West Virginia University
Western Carolina University
Wheaton College
Wilkes University
William and Mary Wingate University
Williams College
Winthrop University
Wofford College
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Yale University
Yonsei University
Young Harris College
Youngstown State University