Barb Buchholz has been an Essay Expert with College Expert since 2017. For more than 25 years she worked in corporate communications, most recently as a freelance writer, editor and consultant, and she loves working with students and applying her experience to the college application process. As an Essay Expert, she finds it rewarding to watch students develop an appreciation for their unique strengths and life experiences through writing their essays. Barb has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Business Communication degree from the University of St. Thomas. She is a board member and communications consultant for Saving Grace Village, a nonprofit that provides weekend retreats for adolescent girls. She lives in Lakeville with her husband, and her son is a sophomore in college.
Heather Lyons is first and foremost a mother of three beautiful children. She is also an English Language Arts and English as a Second Language teacher at Minneapolis South High School. She joined the College Expert team in 2009 and loves working with students in her role as an Essay Expert and co-leader of the summer essay writing workshops and Jam Sessions. When asked to write this bio, she responded, “Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit…I will be brief.” (Shakespeare, Hamlet)
Jean has been College Expert’s Office Manager since 2012. While she thoroughly enjoyed helping her three daughters find ideal college fits, she wishes she had known about College Expert’s services at the time. Jean’s penchant for structure, organization and making sure processes run smoothly is a good fit for the dynamics of College Expert. She has vast experience in a variety of administrative and educational roles, including substitute teaching and working with youth at the St. Paul Police Department. Jean holds a Criminal Justice Management degree. Jean enjoys baking, cooking, boating, and reading, but more than anything she enjoys planning outings and spending time with friends & family – especially her grandchildren!
Katie has spent her professional career supporting students as they dream big about their futures. After earning her B.A. from St. Olaf College in English and Media Studies, she entered the college admissions field as an AmeriCorps fellow with College Possible, a local nonprofit. It was there that Katie learned the ins and outs of college advising as she guided local high school students through the college application and enrollment process. She is currently a Career and College Center Coordinator at South High School in Minneapolis.
In addition to college advising, Katie has taught ACT classes through the Princeton Review and has sat on local and national scholarship committees; however, her main passion is working with students one on one to concoct their dream plan. Every person’s college journey is unique, and so is their planning process. Katie loves getting to know young people, talking with them about what they want their life to look like, and helping them put together a plan to get there.
Kris Olson has been an Essay Expert with College Experts since 2013 and is an IECA Certified associate member of the organization. She looks forward to working with juniors and seniors each year because of their excitement and enthusiasm for the future. Although Kris focuses mostly on the essay portion of applications, she also helps with all other aspects of the college application process. “The best part, for me, is seeing students find their individual voices while crafting an essay only they could write from their own unique experiences.”
Beyond college choices in the US, Kris has a special interest in the many and varied international college options that are available to our students. “For the right student, attending an international university in the UK, Ireland, Austria, France or Netherlands (among others) can be not only life-changing, but also more focused and even more affordable than colleges in the US.”
Kris graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, with a B.A. in journalism, and has worked in a variety of writing and editing positions for more than 30 years. She has two children, both attended college in the US, and graduate schools in the UK and Australia respectively. She lives in Excelsior with her husband Greg, and travels as often as possible.
Margaret’s 20+ year career has centered around writing, editing, and education. She has worked for Stanford University, the University of Maryland College Park, Georgetown University, and Twin Cities Public Television, and she is the author of seven decodable story books for beginning readers. At TPT, Margaret helped produce DragonflyTV and SciGirls. Margaret currently keeps busy as an English and test prep tutor. Margaret graduated first in her class from South High School in Minneapolis and holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Stanford University. Her academic interests include sustainable agriculture, moral philosophy, social theory, and intellectual history. In her free time, she enjoys learning new things and practicing yoga. Margaret is an Associate Member of IECA.
Michelle has been with College Expert since 2016. She earned her B.A. from St. Olaf College in Sociology/Anthropology and M.A. in Education Psychology from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. During Michelle’s career, her work has centered on supporting students to achieve their goals. Previously, Michelle was an AmeriCorps fellow through a local MN non-profit, College Possible, and has worked in financial aid and career services at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. Currently, Michelle works for the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) at the U of MN, with a role focused on student engagement.
At College Expert, Michelle enjoys helping students craft their life stories into writing pieces that they get to share with potential colleges. She believes that this process can be an enlightening exercise for students to reflect on their values and goals as they prepare to take-off on life’s next chapter.