Our Team

Michelle Mai
College Planning Specialist / Founder

Michelle Mai is a licensed Investment Adviser who specializes in College Planning and has helped over 1300 families to create strategic funding plans for their children’s college education. While attending University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), she gained experience and knowledge working within the financial aid office that helped her recognized the negative impact that insufficient college planning can have on a family’s financial future. She has since pledged to help families understand these deficiencies and has been working with families to develop secure and confident financial plans to minimize their costs for college and maximize their lifetime savings.

Michelle has helped her clients to implement financial planning strategies that work within their budget to maximize cash flow, avoid and re-direct unnecessary transfers of wealth while optimizing their tax-savings. She has the innate ability to understand a family’s financial concerns within their situation and knows how to help guide them to construct and maintain a successful financial plan.

As one of the more innovative members of the college planning industry during the last 13 years, she has developed a three-part system to help families identify and achieve their goals called the Intelligently Balanced College Planning System. She believes that a comprehensive college plan includes college funding, student development and admissions. These three components are correlated and need to be developed at the same time to produce the best outcome for a family.

Over the last few years she has made it a point to give back to the community through educating families on topics including college funding and various aspects of financial planning. She currently serves on the board for N.A.I.F.A. (National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors) and was a 2017 nominee for the National Champion of Diversity.

Michelle lives in San Diego, California, and spends the time away from her office with her family, running, biking, swimming and training for triathlons.

Jessica Brown
College Admissions Counselor

Jessica Brown is a former admissions officer with extensive experience in the college application review process. Before joining the team at College Planning Source, she worked as Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Jessica worked with students and families from diverse backgrounds, guiding them through the selective admissions process. She has read thousands of admissions applications and essays and offers expert advice from the perspective of admissions committees. At UMass Amherst, she was reading around 200 applications and essays per week! Her recruitment travel also allowed her to build a network of admissions contacts from all over the country. Today, she maintains up-to-date admissions knowledge through her network of professional contacts and through participation in professional associations such as the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and the Western Association for College Admission Counseling (WACAC).

During her time at UMass Amherst, Jessica also worked with various advising offices, helping underclassmen explore academic major and career options. She understands that narrowing down one’s educational and professional paths can be stressful, and successfully navigating all of the options requires a thoughtful assessment of personal strengths and values. At College Planning Source, Jessica helps students get a head-start on this exploration process, resulting in a greater sense of direction for students and a strategic approach to applying to colleges.

Jessica holds a Master of Education degree with a concentration in Higher Education and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, both from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors, exploring new restaurants, and visiting her family around San Diego.

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Brigitte Brikho
College Admissions Counselor

Brigitte Brikho is a San Diego native with a passion for helping students through the college application process. Before joining the team at College Planning Source, she worked as a school counselor at various high schools across San Diego. Additionally, Brigitte had served as a College Peer Advisor as a part of UCSD’s California Student Opportunity and Access Program. During her time as an advisor and school counselor, she had helped hundreds of students through the college application process. She assisted them in the development of their resumes, essays, and application completion.

It is her mission to help others navigate through the complex higher education system. She knows first-hand how important it is to develop a strong application for college admissions and how difficult it can be without the guidance of those who have tread the path before. As a college admissions counselor, she expertly carries out the mission of College Planning Source by helping students to successfully develop a strong profile that highlights their passion and strengths, then helping them bring that through in their college applications and essays.

She has personally helped over 300 students through the student development and college application process to date. Colleges she’s helped students to get into range from CSU’s, UC’s, mid-tier private colleges, the Ivy League, and everything in between! She maintains her up-to-date knowledge through professional associations and memberships such as NACAC, WACAC, private college counseling networks and many conversations and relationships with college admissions officers. Brigitte has seen it all and guides students to identify and achieve their interests and goals.

Brigitte holds a Master of Science degree in Counseling with an emphasis in School Counseling and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, both from San Diego State University. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and fur-babies, as well as going for walks at her favorite spot in San Diego: Seaport Village.

Maria Chiem
College Admissions Counselor

Maria joins our team with an abundance of experience, serving for five years as the Director of College Success and Alumni Services for the Orange County-based Nicholas Academic Center where she managed and directed three college planning centers with other college counselors that help over 200 students and their parents per year with college planning and admissions. While managing the three centers, her achievements included developing, implementing, and facilitating the “College Knowledge” lesson plans for high school students and parents, which guided them through admissions, applications, and financial aid planning for college. She was also responsible for tracking the progress of their alumni, as well as managing their scholarship program, which granted students over $1 million in scholarships per year to students in their program.

Maria has also worked with community members, board directors, and colleges to create education and awareness programs connecting families with the community and the community with universities.

While building these programs, Maria has personally worked with over 800 students through their path to college, where students have attended schools ranging from all the Cal States and UC’s to Ivy league schools like Harvard and Cornell University and many colleges in between! Her passion for helping students to identify their goals and achieve them is apparent from the moment you meet her. She firmly believes that providing a holistic approach towards college planning allows for higher education opportunities to become a reality.

Maria, along with all our other counselors, maintains her up-to-date knowledge of careers, majors, and the current admissions landscape through our professional admissions networks, associations, and experience. She is a member of the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) and the Western Association of College Admissions Counselors (WACAC).
One of Maria’s greatest accolades includes being selected as the 2016 Counselor of the Year for Counselors That Change Lives; she was selected from thousands of counselors who were considered.

Maria holds her Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in American Studies from CSU Fullerton. In her spare time, she spends her time with her family, reading, doing community service and enjoying her time exploring San Diego.

Jaclyn Sanchez
College Admissions Counselor

Jaclyn Sanchez is a native San Diegan with a passion for education and high school students. She has experience in a variety of settings including educational institutions and nonprofit organizations. Prior to College Planning Source she worked as an educator and counselor for high school students at a local youth nonprofit. In this position she provided college planning and profile building guidance, support, and resources to over 200 students each year at high schools all around San Diego.

Her experience in higher education has consisted of working in the Pre-Admission Advising Office and the Academic Advising and Career Education Offices at California State University East Bay, as well as in the Student Life and Leadership Office and as a Teaching Assistant at San Diego State University.

In combination with her experience she also holds a master’s degree in Education, Counseling and Guidance with a specialization in College Counseling and Student Development from Point Loma Nazarene University and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from California State University East Bay. She is a member of the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA).

Additionally, she is an AmeriCorps alumni and completed two terms of service with local nonprofits. She enjoys giving back and helping others but most importantly empowering them with the tools and resources to help themselves. In her free time she can be found working out, reading, hiking, attempting to do yoga, and discovering new food spots around San Diego!

Manvi Singh
College Admissions Essay Counselor

Manvi Singh is a writer and teacher who has been teaching writing since 2009. She received her BA in Literature and Writing from UC San Diego, where she was selected as a top student by writing professors to teach for-credit writing workshops to peers. Prior to joining College Planning Source, she worked with college and graduate school applicants as a writing coach and helped several students successfully refine their unique voice and story to present to admissions committees.

Manvi has helped over 300 students in her time with us at College Planning Source. She has a knack for helping students bring their voice out in their essays and enjoys the process of helping the students to bring their essays to life.

She has also worked independently as a technical writer, marketing copy writer, and graphic designer for companies ranging from small start-ups and non-profit organizations to international technology corporations. In addition to her work with writing, Manvi is also a yoga instructor who teaches youth and families throughout San Diego, and a graduate student in counseling at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She weaves her passion for education, writing, and working with youth to creating a welcoming, confidence-building environment for her students.

In her free time, you can find her reading, blogging, and working on her forthcoming book about yoga for young adults.

Chris Whittier
Financial Advisor

Chris Whittier is a financial advisor with experience in investments, insurance, and banking. After his time at MetLife and TD Bank, he sought the opportunity to more directly assist clients with reaching their financial goals regarding funding higher education while maintaining overall financial health. He employs his skills in financial planning and customer service to efficiently move clients through the college funding process and beyond. He firmly believes that proactive financial planning strategy results in the most beneficial outcomes for students and their families.

Chris received his M.B.A. from the New England College of Business and Finance while working full-time in the financial services field. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and enjoys following professional sports and trying new recipes in his kitchen in his free time.

Jessica Lam (Northern California)
Financial Advisor

Jessica Lam is a Financial Professional in northern California and has helped families save for college and retirement. She has been there to help parents save properly and create cash flow efficiencies within their current budgets.

While being brought up in the financial industry, Lam has been able to see the changes in financial planning and is prepared to help families create and update their plans to reach their goals. She has also been helpful to students that needed help applying to colleges throughout the years.

Since high school, Lam has been a resource to others when looking into college admissions. She has helped her friends and family members with applications and their overall high school profiles. By doing so, she has helped people gain admission into UC: Berkeley, Davis, Santa Barbara, Irvine, Santa Cruz, The Culinary Institute of America, NYU, New York Academy of Art, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Andrea Williams
Programs Director

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