Meet the Essay Readers!

The Berkeley High College essay readers are a group of experienced writers and editors who volunteer their time to help BHS seniors with their college essays and personal statements.

Essay Reader Bios

Mike Bolgatz is a lawyer practicing in Berkeley for the last 20 years. He has been volunteering reading college application essays for the last four years.
Katherine Brown attended Stanford University graduating with a degree in Journalism with a minor in French Language. She also studied law for 3 years, worked in Marketing and Public Relations and is currently a Suzuki piano teacher. She really has fun helping students 'get unstuck' or "rolling" while tackling college essays. Her 3 kids attend Pratt Institute, Stanford and Colorado College. For fun she likes to walk in Tilden Park, forage/garden, and host dinner around a bonfire.
Carla CastilloCarla Castillo began reading college essays when her daughter was at BHS. Before beginning her private coaching practice, Carla was a defense attorney in the criminal justice system. Since then, she has expanded her practice; she now tutors students who want to increase their writing skills and also works as a professional copyeditor and proofreader.
elaine-bio-sep-2016Elaine Chan is a marketing consultant with extensive writing experience. This Fall, Elaine will receive her certification from UC Berkeley as a Career and College Advisor. She enjoys helping students succeed, and has volunteered as a Writer's Coach at Berkeley High since 2013. Elaine is a parent of two children: a son who is enrolled at UC Santa Barbara, and a daughter who graduated from The University of Southern California in 2016.
Steve Cohen is a communications consultant for non-profits and a writer for university and other publications. He held communications positions at University of California (UCOP and UC Berkeley) for 18 years, and has enjoyed being an essay reader for the last three years.
Janet Huseby is a journalist who has worked with the Associated Press, Time/Life Books and the University of California, Berkeley. This is her 19th year reading essays at Berkeley High.
Brenda Kahn earned a master’s in journalism from the renowned Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and has worked as a writer and editor for more than 30 years. She has held editorial positions with Runner’s World magazine and San Jose magazine, and her articles and personal essays have appeared in a number of publications. She currently works as the web editor and senior public information officer for a large regional governmental agency in the Bay Area. She has taught feature writing and copy-editing at the journalism program at City College of San Francisco, and was accepted to participate in the Squaw Valley Writer’s Workshop. She has been a college essay reader at Berkeley High for more than a dozen years, and has four children who have attended Berkeley High and gone on to college.
Jamie Keller is a professional writer/educational therapist with a private practice specializing in working with rising seniors on their college application essays. Jamie has been helping seniors with their personal statements and volunteering at Berkeley High since 2006, successfully coaching hundreds of students in the art of writing unique, personal, and memorable essays.
Margaret Miller covered crime and politics for the Seattle Times, and she wrote for Outside Magazine and other publications. For four years she was the assistant dean at Cal's Graduate School of Journalism. At Cal she directed the admissions cycle, reviewing hundreds of applications every spring. Since then she has informally reviewed admissions essays for people applying to college, grad schools, fellowships, and jobs. Why? Because she really enjoys it.
Sara Sanderson is a retired public interest attorney. She has volunteered in the classroom writing programs and college essay programs at Berkeley High for about 10 years. “I focus on brainstorming with students to pinpoint their uniqueness and market their skills. Together we craft the outline of their essay and bring out their unique writing style."
Wendy Morrison is in her 14th year as an independent college counselor. She has been volunteering at Berkeley as an essay reader for over 10 years.
Judith FrisciaJudith Friscia has a BA in English from the University of San Francisco and an MA in English literature from Sonoma State University. She’s taught English composition and literature at Sonoma State University for over 10 years. Two years ago she decided to become a College Advising Specialist and has absolutely loved mentoring students on every aspect of the college application journey.
Bora Reed is a writer and editor who works as the communications manager for the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. She has enjoyed the many hours spent with her daughter (BHS '14) and her friends helping to write, revise (and revise again) their college essays.
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