College Essay Mentors

College Essay Mentors provides FREE assistance with the college application essay (UCs, personal statement, common app, supplements) on a first-come, first-served basis, Tuesdays, 3:30-4:45 PM in the College & Career Center.
Mentors are professional writers seeking to support Tech students — especially those who do not have access to professional college counselors. For a student with inconsistent grades or a deeper story to tell, the essay can make a huge difference in admissions. Students do not need to have drafted essays to come in for help.
The College Essay program involves many skilled mentors, including:
Melinda Clemmons Blackorby, the parent of two Oakland Tech graduates, is a freelance writer and editor for nonprofits serving children, youth, and families. Her stories and poems have appeared in The Cimmaron Review, Kindred, West Trestle Review, Eclipse, The Monthly and The Chronicle of Social Change. She loves working with students in the Oakland Tech college essay program.

Teresha Freckleton-Petite has worked with college-bound high school students more than 20 years. Her favorite part of the college application process is helping students find their voice while writing, revising, and editing their essays. She was a Writer Coach Connection volunteer at Berkeley High from 2015-2016. Ms. Petite is currently earning a Certificate in College Advising and Career Planning from UC Berkeley.

Mike Mechanic as been a senior editor at Mother Jones magazine for the past decade. He was previously managing editor at the East Bay Express. His work has also appeared in Wired, The Industry Standard, and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications. He’s a UC Berkeley graduate (biochemistry) and has masters degrees in cellular and developmental biology (Harvard) and UC Berkeley (journalism). He has lived in the East Bay since 1983, and in Oakland since 1997. He has a son at Tech and is currently working on a book about wealth.

Pam Rich has over 10 years experience teaching high school history where she emphasized the writing process. A graduate of Brown University, she currently works in Organization Effectiveness at UC Berkeley.

Amy Rowland spent more than a decade at The New York Times, where she worked, most recently, as an editor at The Book Review. Her novel, The Transcriptionist, published by Algonquin in 2014, received the Addison M. Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She received a 2016 NEA grant, and have been a resident at the MacDowell Colony, and a fellow at the Norman Mailer Center and the Sewanee Writers Conference. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in several publications, including The New York Times, The Southern Review, and The Iowa Review. In the summer of 2018 Amy taught high school writing and journalism courses with The School of The New York Times. She is currently a visiting lecturer from Princeton University, where she teaches a freshman literature seminar.

Sarah Weld is a longtime writer and editor, who has worked as a daily newspaper reporter for the Oakland Tribune and the San Mateo County Times, editor of The East Bay Monthly, associate editor of Oakland and Alameda magazines, and senior content editor and writer at Saint Mary’s College. Sarah also taught high school English for a few years, and has shepherded two children (both Tech grads) through the college essay process. In addition to her professional writing and editing work, she also writes nonfiction essays, which have been published in various places, including The Monthly, Using Our Words, and on KQED Perspectives. She currently manages communications for the enrollment division at Cal State East Bay.

Hilary Zaid is a writer and editor and the author of a novel, Paper is White. An alumna of Harvard and Radcliffe, she holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Berkeley, where she taught for many years in the undergraduate writing program, Hilary has mentored college essays through the Stanford Summer Session and through A 2017 Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Hilary is also an alumna of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and the Tin House Writers’ Workshop. Her short fiction has appeared in print and online venues including Lilith Magazine, The Southwest Review, The Utne Reader, CALYX, The Santa Monica Review, and The Tahoma Literary Review and has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Hilary is the mother of two Tech students, a senior and a freshman.

Amy Crawford is a long-time English language arts teacher and co-author of Great Books for High School Kids. She taught high school for over 2 decades—including 20 years at Berkeley High where she worked with seniors on their personal statements. As a Bay Area Writing Project Teacher Consultant, she facilitates writing workshops for teachers and teaches a summer writing camp for English language learners in China. She is an alumna of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Mills College, and currently mentors graduate students who are soon-to-be teachers at UC Berkeley and University of San Francisco. Amy is the mother of 2 current Oakland Tech students, a junior and a freshie.

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