Where did the idea for Where Success Blooms come from?

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May 21, 2014

I’ve worked in both college admissions at Stanford University and college counseling at Phillips Academy, Andover; two very highly selective educational institutions. On both sides of the desk I genuinely enjoy working with students and families; however, watching parents and students endure the high degree of competitiveness and stress that accompanies this time period was like watching people suffer through a medieval torture chamber. I knew there was a more mindful, compassionate, and holistic way to help guide students and parents through this process that couldn’t be addressed in a school setting.

In 2012, while visiting Plum Village in France, I encountered a lotus blossom for the first time. While on a walking meditation with Thích Nhất Hạnh, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and peace activist, he explained that the lotus blossom only bloomed in mud. Actually he said, “No mud, no lotus.” I was initially struck by the idea that something so beautiful and graceful and perfect resulted from something we don’t deem as beautiful, graceful or perfect at all. And this was true about the college application and admission process as well. It was critical to me to create a business that acknowledged the not so pretty parts of this journey while also nourishing students holistically and authentically.

It’s about honoring the growth process during this period in a student’s life by helping them connect most authentically with who they are as young adults, who they wish to be, and finding their best college fit based on those criteria without stressing them or their parents out unnecessarily. I approach the process with candor, humor, and compassion and that in turn helps busy parents save time and money in finding a great set of colleges to which to apply and while making the high school experience more meaningful.