The Ivy Scholars Team

Meet our team of expert college admissions consultants, mentors, and tutors. Our team members have extensive experience in all aspects of college admissions and come from the top universities. From experience, our team knows what universities are looking for in an application, and how you can make yours stand out.

“Ivy Scholars exists to empower students through mentorship and academic coaching, to grow intellectually into the kind of candidates that their target universities want to accept.”

Leadership Team

Sasha Chada

Founder & Chief Executive Officer | Johns Hopkins University, BA in Philosophy, 2013, Pre-Medical and Humanities Honors

After learning about the admissions process firsthand at the Johns Hopkins University, Sasha founded Ivy Scholars in Houston, Texas in 2015. Having watched hundreds of students and their families get lost in the admissions process and endure the stress of denial, he dreamed of providing a crystal-clear journey of self-reflection and coaching to help students craft great applications. Four years after he’d started, hundreds of his students had been accepted to their top-choice school – and enjoyed themselves in the process. 

Sasha guides the vision of Ivy Scholars, oversees the hiring and coaching of mentors, and acts as the first point of contact with every student and parent. With over half a decade of experience in college counseling, Sasha has shepherded a diverse group of students – from genius coders to journalistic refugees – successfully through the admissions process. 

Sasha is driven by a desire to change students’ lives through the college admissions process. Higher education is a cornerstone of advancement in today’s society, and Sasha wants nothing more than to see our students in the college that best sets them up for future success.

Sasha’s vision for Ivy Scholars is to educate, enable, and empower student to achieve the best versions of their lives by exploring their intellectual curiosities, proving their talents, and telling their stories to top-tier admissions committees. 

To learn more about Sasha, read his interview.

Nick Madincea

Director of Business Development

Nick Madincea is a seasoned entrepreneur with over half a decade of experience leading startups. In 2016, Nick co-founded Drone Parks® Worldwide: a startup dedicated to building indoor drone centers. In 2019, the Houston Chronicle named Nick “one of the most influential people in the emerging drone industry.” Nick contributes strategic and operational insights to Ivy Scholars with a focus on the customer experience, marketing, and business development. Nick believes that decision made by a startup begins and ends with you, the customer.


Martin Carlino

Director of College Apps | Harvard (BA, ‘16), Oxford (MSt, ‘19)

Martin Carlino hails from “Lawn Guyland”, New York, though years in New England–and, more recently, Olde England–have rendered him more presentable to polite company. While completing his BA at Harvard, Martin concentrated in Government with an emphasis in political philosophy and served for three years as a peer tutor, assisting fellow undergraduates with essay writing and comprehension of course materials, receiving praise for his high degree of preparation and “natural aptitude for teaching”. Following his graduation with honors in 2016, Martin worked as an American History teacher at Success Academy Charter School in New York City. In addition to his role as a traditional classroom teacher, Martin also excelled as an individual and small-group writing and test prep coach, overseeing dramatic improvements in his students’ writing ability and mock state exam scores.

Simultaneously, Martin began tutoring private clients for the SAT, ACT, SAT II subject tests, and AP exams. He also found that he was uniquely qualified to offer college admissions consulting to both American and international students, having been accepted to every Ivy League school as well as a host of other top universities. Now with five years of college admissions consulting experience under his belt, Martin has mastered the art of helping students to draw out compelling narratives from their achievements, struggles, and life stories generally.

While teaching and tutoring, Martin never ceased in conducting the political and historical research that animated his undergraduate experience and was named a Scholarly Fellow of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, which helped to fund a one-year MSt in History at the University of Oxford. While overseas, Martin became an avid swimmer, met his life partner, and had a grand old time writing about the radical utopian communities of the Illinois prairie.

Now back in the United States, Martin is excited to throw himself full-time into the world of college admissions consulting and essay coaching with Ivy Scholars–when not swimming, cooking, or running his monthly Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

Jennifer Garrison - College Admissions Mentor

Jennifer Garrison

Director of Candidacy Building | Columbia University, BA in English, Special Concentration Jazz Studies

Jennifer began working with middle school students 14 years ago as an acting coach at Oaks Christian and continued working with elementary to early high school students as a tutor, assistant teacher, and behavioral aide at The Help Group and with the New York City public school district. She familiarized herself with Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s), managing the classroom, preparing curricula, and helping students with behavioral change, using the whole-person approach. She helped with the initial launching of the Emily Shane Foundation’s Successful Educational Achievement Program, collaborating with the program founder to identify the needs of the student community to better serve the growth of the nonprofit. She is a writer with a strong background in research and APA style. She has worked as an editor and content proposal writer for film production companies and undertook independent research at Columbia in Ethnomusicology. She uses her creativity and artistic background to help students with public speaking and developing their self-articulation for college applications. Her avid interest and self-study in life coaching and interpersonal skills give her many tools to offer her students for Candidacy Building.

Alex Nelson - College Admissions Mentor

Alex Nelson

Director of Test Prep | Rice University, BA in History

Alex has been a full-time mentor and tutor for twelve years. After scoring a perfect 1600 on his own SAT in high school, he joined The Princeton Review, where he worked as a college admissions mentor and tutor for the SAT, ACT, ISEE, GRE, GMAT, and LSAT. Over nine years, he became their highest-level “Premiere” tutor and teacher trainer for all of Houston.

Alex joined Ivy Scholars in 2018. He specializes in improving organization and study habits, and he is a master of helping high-scoring students raise their SAT and ACT scores to the top 1%.

Alex had an unusual college admission process. Ever since 7th grade, he had his sights set on the best college within 1,000 miles of his hometown, Rice University, in Houston. With a perfect SAT, a funny personal statement, and hundreds of service hours tutoring his peers in math, Alex applied early to Rice and was admitted before needing to apply to other schools. Due to his success finding scholarships, Alex was able to attend Rice for only $900 a semester.


Antonio Cruz

Mentor | University of Chicago, BA/MA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

I have worked in education, academic research, and archaeology before coming to Ivy Scholars. My goal is to share knowledge with the next generation of scholars, and I enjoy connecting with students and seeing their success, which is the most rewarding part of my work.

Nick Popow

Mentor | Rutgers University, BA in Philosophy

I have been teaching SAT and ACT reading, writing, and English sections for five years. In the last two years, I have been heavily involved in writing coaching; I help students construct and polish English essays, college personal statements, supplements, WHAP assignments, and more. My approach is two-pronged: 1. I get the student involved in the formation of comprehensible, grammatically correct sentences that “sound right.” 2. I try to liberate and nurture the sense of excitement and freedom that comes when the student begins to see writing as, not merely an arduous task, but as a means of personal expression, as a medium for the display of their own personality.


Charly Santagado

Senior Mentor | Rutgers University, BA in Philosophy and Highest Honors

After growing up in central Florida, Charly Santagado attended Rutgers University on a full scholarship. She was on the Division 1 gymnastics team and graduated with highest honors in May 2017 with a major in philosophy, and minors in creative writing, dance, and music. She started working as a Test Prep Tutor and College Application Coach with Ivy Scholars shortly after graduation. She is also the founder and artistic director of ~mignolo dance~, a nonprofit contemporary dance company based in Metuchen, NJ, and a freelance writer for Dance Informa.

Wendy Y.
Below is my son's review. He was accepted to his dream Ivy League school!

From an admitted student's perspective, I am incredibly grateful to have met Sasha - he has been instrumental in helping me achieve my educational dreams (Ivy League), all while being an absolute joy (he's a walking encyclopedia, only funnier!) to work with.

Many people are dissuaded from seeking a college counselor because they think they can get into their desired college(s) either way. Honestly, going that route is a bit short-sighted and can jeopardize your odds of acceptances after years of hard work. The sad truth is, the American education system (even if you attend a fancy private school and ESPECIALLY if you go to a public school) doesn't really tell students how to write a compelling and authentic application. Going into the admissions process alone, without speaking with an advisor, is like going to court without a lawyer - you put yourself at a significant disadvantage because you don't have all the facts in front of you, or the help you need to negotiate the system.

That said, you need a good lawyer just like you need a good college counselor. And that's where Sasha distinguishes himself from the crowd of people claiming they'll get you into Harvard. I came to Sasha worried about and frankly dumbfounded by the college admissions process. I was unsure what to write about and how to go about drafting the essay that perfectly captured my passion, interests, and self. And I was highly skeptical that anyone could really help me. But, damn, did Sasha prove me wrong. From the beginning, Sasha amazed me with his understanding of the process, and ability to lend clarity and direction to me when I desperate needed it. After interviewing me about my background, experiences, activities, outlook, and vision, he helped me see qualities about myself I had not previously considered 'unique' or 'stand-out.' This process of understanding myself was so incredibly important in laying the groundwork for the essays I eventually wrote, and I'm certain I would've drafted boring, inauthentic essays without it.

Looking back, Sasha's talent is that he can see where your strengths lie, even when you don't see them. The truth is, although we don't always realize it, everyone has a unique story to tell. Sasha helped me see mine, and with his big-picture insight I was able to write the application that truly encapsulated my life and vision. He inspired me to dig deeper and write better, challenging me to revise and revise until my essays were the most passionate and authentic work I had ever written. As clichéd as that sounds, that's really what universities are looking for. In retrospect, it makes sense - in the real world passionate (not simply intelligent) individuals are the ones who make a difference in the world, and those are the individuals colleges would like to have associated with their brand.

In the end, I was accepted to the college of my dreams, a feat I could not have achieved without the direction Sasha lent to me. Essays (and the personal narrative you develop through your application) matter so much, and can literally make or break your application. I have seen so many of my 'qualified' friends receive rejections because they wrote contrived essays that didn't truly represent who they were; conversely, I have also seen so many friends with shorter resumes accepted because they were able to articulate their story in a genuinely passionate and authentic way - I fall into the latter category.

As a former admissions officer at Johns Hopkins, Sasha knows what types of essays jibe well with universities, an invaluable asset to have in the admissions process. He is responsive, flexible, creative, positive, and witty. For anyone who is serious about going into the college admissions process informed and prepared, I highly recommend Sasha.
Arda E.
I used Ivy Scholars to mainly help me with college applications. Within weeks of using this service, Sasha was able to simplify the already complex process. When it came to writing the Common App essay, Sasha didn’t just help with grammar and syntax, he brought my essays to life. Sasha also worked tirelessly to help solidify my extracurricular activities, including research and internship opportunities. Without his help, I would have never had an impressive resume.

Sasha is not only an extremely knowledgeable tutor, but also a genuine brother figure. His guidance, throughout my last two years of high school, was everything I needed to get me an acceptance letter from my dream schools (UC Berkeley, Tufts, Emory).

When it came to testing, Ivy Scholars worked like a charm. Sasha offered a very comprehensive plan when it came to completely acing my standardized tests. Without his test taking strategies I would have never gotten straight 5s on my AP tests and a 35 on the ACT.

Working with Sasha, I didn’t just become a good student, I became a genuine scholar.
Samson S.
We worked with Ivy Scholars during my son's senior year. I was concerned that we may be too late to take advantage of college advising but the Ivy Scholars team quickly and confidently directed us through the steps to ensure no deadlines were missed. Sasha's knowledge about schools, what they looked for in candidates, and how to maneuver the application process was invaluable. Mateo and Ryan worked with my son to help him create an essay that would get noticed and I am so appreciative he had their guidance.

Prior to securing Ivy Scholars, we tried using a less-expensive online service which was a terrible experience. As a parent, Ivy Scholars brought peace of mind to an area that was frankly overwhelming. This service was invaluable in the knowledge that we gained throughout the process. He has also met with my freshman daughter to provide guidance for her high school courses, career paths, extracurricular activities, and more.

Prior to signing with Ivy Scholars, I tried a less expensive online service and was very disappointed.

As a result of our work with Ivy Scholars, I am pleased to say that my son will be attending Stern Business School at New York University this fall! I highly recommend Ivy Scholars. Highly recommend!