About Us

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Shannon Brady, M.Ed

Founder of TheCollegeMIND

Director of Academic & College Counseling, Brady College Counseling

Academic and college counseling have always been a part of Shannon’s life. She has a strong passion for helping students find the best colleges for their personal preferences, abilities, and potential. With her strong college admissions knowledge and ability to connect with families, she is adept at easing anxiety throughout the admissions process.

Originally from the East Coast, Shannon grew up in Bridgewater, New Jersey. After being recruited to play Division 1 & Division 3 lacrosse at several colleges along the Eastern seaboard, Shannon selected Loyola University in Maryland. It was there where she completed her undergraduate studies and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Afterward, she moved to New York City and began her Master’s of Education in School Counseling and a professional career at Fordham University. While working for the University’s Office of Career Planning, her role as a Career Counselor enabled her to conduct resume-writing seminars, coordinate the internship program, and counsel students as they prepared for the workplace.

Her unique experiences led her to a highly sought-after position as the College and Career Counselor at a top-rated regional high school in central New Jersey. With a student body of over 3,000 Shannon created a College and Career Center that provided students and parents with the specific resources necessary in post-secondary planning and the college admissions process. As the College and Career Counselor, she developed and facilitated multiple college search workshops and college athlete seminars. Shannon became an important figure in the school’s community, serving as the Counseling Departments’ liaison, providing the grade-level counselors, students, and parents with advice, resources, and support.

In addition to experience in the school setting, Shannon worked for a small college consulting company in Orange County & San Diego County. She worked closely with families counseling them on the appropriate steps to success in the admission process and higher education. Additionally, she was the regional admission representative for a small, private, liberal arts university on the East Coast. Shannon was an instructor for the UCLA Extension – College Counseling Certificate Program and taught the course, Using the Internet for College & Career Counseling.

Shannon’s dedication to professional development has led her to visit hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the country, where she has built strong relationships with admission counselors. These relationships have provided Shannon with the opportunity to observe the admissions committees of several competitive liberal arts colleges. Shannon is an active member of the Higher Education Consultant Association, attending annual conferences and events to keep up with the ever-changing admissions landscape.

With the use of technology, Shannon is evolving her counseling practice to assist families virtually around the country. In 2021, TheCollegeMIND was created to solve the problem of making college admissions more accessible to a wider population who may not be able to fully afford the advantages of working with a private counselor.

Shannon lives in Carlsbad, California with her husband, Brian, and son, Liam & daughters, Shae and Brynn.

You’re not alone in this college application journey! Here are all the CollegeMIND Academic and College counselors eager and ready to help you out along the way!

Amy Whelan

Amy’s professional career began in Environmental Insurance. After working in insurance for almost three years, she wanted a career in a field where she felt she could help people and have an impact on their lives. An opportunity presented itself to pursue a new profession in college admissions. This chapter began over 17 years ago, first working for Moravian College and then Lafayette College, both small, private liberal arts colleges in Eastern Pennsylvania.
At both institutions, Amy was engaged with many aspects of the college admissions process. She was responsible for interviewing high school seniors, giving her the opportunity to get to know the students and their intellectual curiosities. Overall, reviewing college applications gave Amy the understanding on how a college looks to create their undergraduate class through the student’s academic, extracurricular, and personal statement.

After moving to North Carolina in 2008, Amy began working for Duke University as a first reader for undergraduate admissions. She then made the cross country move to sunny San Diego in 2014 and continued to work for Duke admissions until the Spring of 2017.  Amy lived in San Diego until 2019, when she moved back to North Carolina, but remained working with her California students virtually.

Working for three higher education institutions, with vastly different admissions procedures and requirements, Amy found her passion. She found Brady College Counseling and TheCollegeMind to be the ideal platform to become an academic and college counselor, assisting students and their families through the college admissions process from the other side of the desk.

Amy graduated from Bloomsburg University with a B.A. in Geography/Environmental Planning. She lives in Apex, North Carolina with her husband, Brian, and their daughter Emily. In her spare time, she loves exploring the Raleigh/Durham area, hiking and photography.

Sarah Hartman

Sarah Hartman has spent her entire career as an educator, teaching a variety of subjects at various educational levels— Social sciences at a private high school, U.S. History at Cal Poly English Language Institute, leadership and American culture summer programs to international students and teachers at Cal State Long Beach, and leadership at a university in Taiwan. Currently, Sarah teaches junior and senior level high school English and community college U.S. History courses. At the high school level, Sarah saw the need for well-timed and impartial college guidance as students and parents navigated their way through the complicated maze of college selection, application, and financial aid process and found herself wanting to support these students and families. “I wanted to work with students as they move toward college, giving them encouragement to recognize that they have the intelligence and fortitude to move onto higher education beyond high school.”  She completed her College Admissions Counseling Certificate at UCR, in addition to the BA and MA in American Studies from Cal State Fullerton and dual credentials in English and Social Sciences she currently holds. Sarah’s broad background and experience gives her keen insights, which she uses to passionately counsel students through the complicated college process, successfully helping them chart their course for college and career, and ultimately reach their goals with confidence. Sarah lives in Temecula with her husband John and enjoys hiking and traveling to The Ohio State University to visit their son Jordan.

Laine O'Donnell

Laine O’Donnell graduated from Ohio University, where she played Division 1 lacrosse, with a BA in Business and minor in Spanish. She began her career working as a financial planner in a large bank in the midwest and quickly discovered that she enjoyed connecting with and supporting students in their educational and social/emotional development. She earned an M.Ed. in Education from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio and then an MA in School Counseling from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Laine has also earned in Licensed Professional Counselor credential, allowing her to provide therapy to clients of all ages.

Laine has worked as a School Counselor for the past nine years in Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern Virginia, which is the 11th largest school district in the country. In her role as a School Counselor, Laine works closely with students and families to navigate their educational goals, encouraging conversations which foster post-secondary exploration and help students align their strengths and interests with college majors and work opportunities. Laine conducts academic advising with her caseload of roughly 350 students each spring. These conversations are specific to each student and allow for students to discuss their academic areas of interests, their academic and vocational goals, and promote opportunities to discuss how to reach these goals through specific course work in high school and through their specific college selection. Utilizing technological programs such as Naviance, Laine is able to help students and families develop resumes beginning in the middle school grades. Students also utilize StrengthFinder programs which guide them through questions about their interests and strengths, and then provide them with specific career opportunities that are strong fits with their individual interests.

Working in the Northern Virginia area has allowed Laine to visit a number of colleges in the area with her students, such as Howard University, George Mason University, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and University of Maryland. Laine has also counseled students and families in the process for applying to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, which is currently the top rated high school in the country. Through conversation and guidance, Laine works with families who are interested in attending TJ to understand the admissions process, which includes testing, a review of extracurricular activities that align with the classes offered at TJ, and helping them understand what college opportunities will be available to them after graduating from TJ.

Having worked virtually with students, families and colleagues this past year during the pandemic, Laine has a natural ability for connecting in the virtual space, promoting comfort for those she is working with. She is thrilled to be a part of the CollegeMIND team where she can work with students and families on their college selection journey!

Laine loves to spend time with her husband, Lucas and their three kids, Claire (7), Graham (5) and Rose (1) and their new puppy, Baker! A few of her favorite things are a hot cup of coffee, a run on a cool evening and a good book.

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The CollegeMIND is a step-by-step video course that will walk you through the college admission process and find the school that best aligns with your academics and interests.

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