Writing Specialists

​Alex Heller

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​B.A. in Creative Writing for the Media, Northwestern University

Alex received her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing for the Media from Northwestern University. As a student, Alex directed a sitcom pilot produced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, worked as a writing intern at The Onion, and wrote and directed a thesis film that screened at the Oscar-qualifying Chicago International Film Festival. Alex was also a pre-orientation counselor for college freshman and also mentored high school students with learning disabilities. Her experience with writing, mentorship, and working with international students is what makes her passionate about helping international college applicants achieve their dreams.

​Anna Hunt


​B.S. in Psychology, Brown University

Anna graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a BS in psychology. During her time at Brown, she discovered her love of interpersonal connection through peer mental health advocacy work, as well as public health and psychology research projects. She developed an extensive background of critical thinking, collaboration, writing, and presentation in performance, research, and academic spaces. Anna is passionate in guiding students to access their voices and showcase their strengths, often revealed through their unique backgrounds and perspectives.

​Cameron Lee


​B.A. in Creative Writing & Visual Arts, Columbia University

Cameron graduated from Columbia University with a major in Creative Writing and a minor in Visual Arts. She has gained extensive experience with editing and creative analysis during her time at Columbia. Cameron further honed her writing and editing skills through her work with the Association of American Colleges and Universities, as well as with other organizations dedicated to education and student support. Cameron is passionate about writing and its power to inspire change. She plans to use her knowledge and creative instincts to help Thinktown students find and use their own unique voices.

Emma Swidler


​Ph.D. Candidate in English Literature, Indiana Univerisity 

Emma is a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University studying English Literature. She graduated from Lawrence University with a bachelor's degree in English and a minor in History. During her undergraduate studies, she was a visiting student at Oxford University and conducted literary research in London. At Lawrence, Emma tutored students at the university’s writing center. She loves helping students become more confident and articulate writers, and she hopes to become a university English professor.

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​Ethan Plaue

B.A. in English Literature & Art History, Columbia University

Ethan received his Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University where he graduated magna cum laude with degrees in English Literature and Art History. During his time at Columbia, he received Honors from the English department for his senior thesis on poetic autobiographies mediated by technology and the spectacle. He also won several awards for his poetry and playwriting while serving as Editor-in-Chief of The Columbia Review, the oldest college literary magazine in the United States. He looks forward to working with Thinktown students in cultivating creative and critical approaches to essay writing.


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​Joshua Speyer

​B.A. in Chinese Language and Literature, Middlebury College

Joshua gradated from Middlebury College with a major in Chinese Language and Literature and on the premedical track. During his time at Middlebury, Josh has focused on the intersection of Chinese Literature and medicine; his research focuses on the portrayal of ethical frameworks for terminal illness in modern Chinese fiction. Additionally, Josh works on the Student Advisory Council and as a TA for the Middlebury College Chinese Department. Joshua plans to help Thinktown students improve their critical thinking and writing skills.

​Nick Simpson


​B.A. in Physics, Juniata College

Nick graduated Juniata College with a degree in Physics. During his time at Juniata he took several classes in Philosophy, English, and creative writing. He has worked as a landscaper, a freelance essay writer, and a marketing copywriter. Studying physics and then pursuing a career in writing and editing has given him an eye for detail and a love of story. Nick is excited to be able to use his skills to help students on the path to higher education.


Olivia Maddox

B.A. in History, Hamilton College

Olivia graduated magna cum laude from Hamilton College, with a major in history and a minor in Chinese. After graduating from high school in Hong Kong, she has studied in London, Beijing, and upstate New York. While studying abroad in Beijing, Olivia conducted independent research on China’s education system and strengthened her Chinese language fluency. Her interest in education also inspired her to teach in the Summer English Immersion Program at the University of Macau, where she helped incoming first-year students improve their English language skills and pass the conditional admission examination. During her time at Hamilton, she enjoyed working at the career center, where she provided personalized advice for her peers on application materials and helped students secure their ideal jobs and internships. Olivia enjoys playing the ukulele, baking, and reading in her free time.

​Phil Yakushev


​Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, Rutgers University

Phil Yakushev is currently pursuing his PhD in Comparative Literature at Rutgers University. His research focuses on narrative, cultural, and legal approaches to mental illness in the United States, Russia, and Germany over the past 30 years. He received his BA from New York University, having studied Literature, Politics, and Philosophy. As a freelance writer and educator, Phil is passionate about helping young people develop their voices and hopes to support students to craft their stories and navigate the institutional nuances and complexities of their college application essays. 

​Tina Wang


​M.S. in Journalism, Columbia Univeristy

Tina is currently pursuing her master degree in journalism at Columbia University. She graduated summa cum laude from Boston University in 2020 with a BS in mass communication. As a bilingual journalist and documentary producer, Tina offers her unique voice in the media world. Tina now works as a freelance journalist for many internationally-known publications like VICE, Rolling Stone, and SCMP. She has a wide range of writing and editing experiences, in areas including cinema, literature, art, business, technology, and communication. Tina is excited to inspire her students to enjoy the beauty of storytelling.