MEET THE TEAM
College Prep Coaches
WALTER M. PEARSON
Walter M. Pearson brings over 20 years of experience leading and advising college administrators on programs, processes, and technology solutions that provide students with greater access to financial support and achieve success in college readiness and admissions. He has cultivated an understanding of industry best practices and track record of success.
Pearson currently serves as President and CEO of CollegeBoundParenting, a national college preparatory program that provides parents with effective comprehensive planning strategies to prepare their children for scholarship acquisition and college admission. He drives the organization's efforts to reduce the college graduation gap and assist 10,000 students in graduating from college with the least amount of debt possible.
Prior to founding CollegeBoundParenting, Pearson served as Howard University School of Business Digital Marketing Recruiting Platform Lead. In this role, he increase annual sponsorship revenue by 250% while managing over 300 corporate partner relationships; provided digital marketing services to corporate recruiters; facilitated job boards and mobile recruiting applications.
Pearson has extensive experience counseling families and k-12 administrators. While serving as a College Success Coach, he developed college workshops for parents; and advised families on how to navigate high school curriculums, college application and acceptance process, financial aid, and coordinated college prep workshops for parent & youth organizations.
He also served as Director of College Readiness for Frontier Charter Schools in Kansas City MO, where he directed the college readiness program for 4 charter schools. He has worked as a college admissions marketing consultant for College Bound Selection Service where he advised college admission officers on college recruitment direct mail campaigns. He has held leadership roles in college admissions consulting and college readiness advisement for public charter high schools.
Walter is a former President of the Parent Council of Black Students at Centennial High School and serves on the Executive Board. He is a member of the UMBC Meyerhoff Parent Association and of Howard University Alumni Association. Walter attended public high school in Kansas City, MO and graduated from Howard University with a degree in Afro-American Studies & Economics. He is married with three children and resides in Columbia, MD.
Amy Jasper brings over two decades of experience working in secondary and higher education with a focus on preparing and energizing students for college, career, and life. She has worked in undergraduate admissions at some of our nation’s top universities and has established a track record of success as well as an extensive network of college admissions professionals and counselors.
Jasper currently serves as Co-Founder and V.P. of Student Success for College Bound Parenting (CBP). In this role, she leads the organization’s development and implementation of the college preparation curriculum and works with the coaches to ensure flawless execution of CBP programs and initiatives.
Prior to joining CBP, Amy founded MyCollegeFit, an educational consulting business where she helps students and families successfully navigate the college admissions process with confidence. Her career also includes working in undergraduate admissions at Duke University, The College of William & Mary, Dickinson College, and the University of Richmond and serving as Director of College Counseling at St. Catherine’s School in Richmond, Virginia. She used this expertise to create “My College, My Plan,” a college awareness and preparation program for the Metro Richmond Boys & Girls Clubs.
Jasper has presented at numerous national conferences and is an elected member of the Board of Directors of IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association) as well as a faculty member at IECA’s Summer Training Institute. She is a member of the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), the Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admissions Counselors (PCACAC), and the Southern Association of College Admissions Counseling (SACAC). Amy earned her BA in economics from the College of William & Mary and her Master’s in Public Administration from Old Dominion University. She also holds an ICF Academic Life Coach Certificate.
Amy and her husband reside in Richmond, VA and are the proud parents of a college graduate daughter who has successfully launched, and a son who is a college senior and D-I scholar athlete.
Lisa M. Pearson
Lisa Pearson brings over 20 years of experience as an educator, clinical therapist, and manager of clinical operations. She has established a track record of success, and earned a reputation as an effective, passionate clinical social worker practicing and leading, through collaboration to make positive change for her clients.
Pearson currently serves as Director of Behavioral Health at Chase Brexton Health Care. In this role, she is responsible for providing vision, service growth, support, training, and guiding the clinical practice for 3 county sites located in Howard, Baltimore, and Anne Arundel Counties. She has administrative, fiscal, and clinical responsibility for these offices with a $4.2 million annual operating budget.
Prior to joining Chase Brexton, Pearson served as Vice President of Clinical Services for Spofford. In this role she developed school-based therapeutic services, created peer family support specialists programs and provided clinical oversight to a 24x7 facility. This work provided individuals and families experiencing symptoms of trauma, conduct disorder, mood disorder, substance use, domestic violence, and PTSD with compassionate clinical interventions. She also facilitated individual, family, and group therapy for early education clients in partial hospitalization programs.
Lisa also has background work in K-12 alternative learning environments. She has provided clinical services in public school settings, alternative education environments, domestic and international adoptions, residential treatment and inpatient psychiatric units as a therapist and administrator.
Pearson serves as Vice Chair for Horizon Foundation Board of Trustees. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master of Social Work from Howard University in Washington, DC. Lisa resides in Columbia, MD with her husband and 3 children.
Elsie Vargas is a seasoned professional with a fierce drive for education and excellence that has distinguished her as a leader in her field. She brings nearly two decades of experience working in education as manager/administrator and a classroom teacher.
Elsie currently serves as a Regional Manager for 3 childcare facilities in the Howard and Prince George's counties, where she oversees the management and leadership team and all staff associated with the schools. She serves as chief problem solver and manages curriculum planning, and educational child-centered activities.
Vargas has an extensive background in education. While serving as an adjunct college instructor, she utilized her unique skills to tap into students' potential and raise student performance levels. This resulted in her promotion to Academic Program Director and managing her department at the University for 5 years.
She was a primary school teacher where she worked with diverse populations of students to advance their academic performance. She analyzed student data to determine best approaches to overcome challenges and created materials to provide one-on-one support for students with development challenges. She is a strong believer in self-improvement and uses a variety of methods to problem solve and collaborate with others to find solutions.
Vargas is a former executive board member of the Parent Affinity groups in Howard County, such as Latin American Council (LAC) and Parent Council for Black Students (PCBS) at Centennial High School. She holds a Master’s degree in criminal justice and Bachelors in Psychology.
A. Keith Jasper
Keith Jasper brings over three decades of experience working for industry leading Fortune 500 companies. His wealth of experience includes a diverse background in finance, marketing, product management, and sales. He has also brought very successful programs and new concepts to market. As Chief Financial Officer of College Bound Parenting (CBP), Keith has the responsibility for oversight of the company’s financial performance, operational metrics, and investment strategy.
Keith is currently Regional Director of Sales for Ten-X, the world's largest online commercial real estate exchange platform. His career also includes working in Finance for GE Appliances, GE Industrial Systems, GE Capital, GE Capital Mortgage, and Genworth Financial. Throughout his career, he’s utilized his financial acumen to assist business partners with achieving their goals and objectives while having sound financial performance.
Keith and his wife Amy reside in Richmond, VA and are the proud parents of a college graduate daughter who has successfully launched, and a son who is a college senior and D-I scholar athlete.
- UMBC - Class of 2023
- Major - Biological Sciences
- Myerhoff Scholar
- U-Rise Scholar
- UNCF STEM Scholar
DR. STEPHEN JONES
Dr. Stephen Jones was one of six children living in West Philadelphia. His father worked two jobs until he was almost 70 and his mother was a cook for young children. They both worked hard and taught him to have strong faith in God. Dr. Jones gets his determination to make a difference from them. As a young child, Dr. Jones was always questioning others and wanting to know more. Dr. Jones joined a community organization the Young Great Society because he wanted to play football, but it became so much more. It is where Dr. Jones found his passion for community activism and finding ways to get the youth off the street. Dr. Jones graduated from We Toughen U. (University) where he majored in Peoplenomics long before he obtained a doctorate degree. You see youth gangs were prevailing in the neighborhood at first but the community leaders fought back and offered an alternative to the youth. Dr. Jones has made a national commitment to education and has helped thousands of K12 and adult students to graduate with diplomas and degrees.
Dr. Jones is currently President of SAJ Publishing. He is also the Associate Dean of Student in the College of engineering at Villanova University. For thirteen years he worked at Drexel University as Director of the SUCCESS/ACT101 program. He has received numerous awards for his dedication to students. Some of his awards include Distinguished Toast Master, Toastmasters District Award Winner, National Society of Black Engineers Award and Black Engineer of the Year Award. The Drexel University chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers recently named an award after him to acknowledge his efforts. The award is titled the Dr. Stephen Jones Award for Academic Excellence. It is presented to a student who has demonstrated academic excellence throughout their enrollment.
Missy Evans-Moreland’s key differentiator is her first-hand experience and demonstrated competence grounded in real-life experience. She has held senior leadership roles in college admissions and independent school development. Missy was Director of Admissions for Trinity Washington University, Washington, DC, and held positions in admissions with Michigan State University, Towson University, and Notre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU). She has worked in development, alumni and parent relations at Flint Hill School in Oakton, Virginia, and the Gilman School in Baltimore, Maryland. She was Associate Director of Development at Flint Hill, which included responsibilities for Director of Alumni Relations, and subsequently Director of Annual Giving. At Gilman, Missy was the Director of Parent Relations and later Associate Director of Alumni and Parent Relations.
During her years in college admissions, Missy travelled extensively in the United States and internationally recruiting prospective students. She met with public and independent school college guidance counselors, college representatives, and prospective students and parents. Today, she continues visiting a diverse group of colleges and independent schools.
Missy attended both private and public schools in the United States and Department of Defense Schools overseas. She developed a passion for languages and was exposed to diverse cultures. Missy majored in modern foreign languages in college and studied abroad in Salamanca, Spain her senior year. She also was a member of her colleges’ tennis and field hockey teams.
Missy is a former member of the Board of Trustees at her alma mater, NDMU. In addition to general Trustee responsibilities, she chaired the Academic and Student Life Committee and is the past president of the NDMU Alumnae and Alumni Association. Missy continues to mentor current NDMU students through her involvement with the University’s Alumni Office and works with the First Impressions Committee, which teaches current students networking, interviewing, and presentation skills. Missy was awarded the NDMU President’s Medal in 2017. The award recognizes outstanding personal qualities and achievements that exemplify the ideals expressed in the mission of NDMU.
Missy is a member of the Bates College Parents Executive Council in Lewiston, Maine, where her son graduated in the class of 2019. In 2018, Missy received the Best Bates Award for her volunteer engagement with the College. She served on the Board of Trustees at the Institute of Notre Dame, a college preparatory school for young women in Baltimore, Maryland. Missy also supports efforts at her high school alma mater, Notre Dame Preparatory School and St. Paul’s School for Boys in Brooklandville, Maryland from which her son graduated in 2015.
Professional affiliations include Professional Membership in the Independent Educational Consulting Association (IECA) and a member of Potomac and Chesapeake Admissions and College Admissions Counseling (PCACAC). Missy attended the IECA Summer Institute at Swarthmore College in 2016, and she regularly attends professional conferences.
As a teen growing up in inner-city Philadelphia, Karima always saw academics as her way out. She did well in school, had a great social life, yet still, that wasn’t enough. Throughout high school, college and even as a young professional, no matter how successful she became, she never felt good enough. Like many, she secretly suffered from depression, mostly due to trauma she experienced as a child, but also because everywhere she turned, society was set up to make her feel that she should’ve been doing more.
When she became a mom, 22 years ago, she discovered just how precious life was & decided that she never wanted her children, or any child, to experience those feelings of emptiness. So she embarked on a journey of spiritual immersion and self-fulfillment, moved her family abroad to the Middle East & fell in love with culture & teaching. She stayed there for 8 years, teaching English as a Second Language at some of the top universities in Saudi Arabia.
It was there that she learned that success for everyone looks different and should never be pursued at the expense of one’s happiness. With this in mind, she was finally able to identify her own personal values & strengths, those things that made her truly unique. She became more confident as a mother, teacher, and all-around human being, and developed a passion for helping students discover the same for themselves.
Over the course of more than a decade, she’s worked with students & families from various countries, cultures and backgrounds, like the Middle East, China, India, Poland, and South America, helping them build confidence and reach academic and personal goals they never thought possible. She did this by not only helping them improve their skills but also their mindset.
She believes that people across the globe are suffering from this idea that they aren’t good enough and that in order to achieve success, they have to sacrifice their happiness. Her goal is to show today’s teens, our next generation of leaders, that this is far from the truth. They can be successful academically, and at the same time, be happy and fulfilled.
Omar Tyree is a New York Times best-selling author, journalist, lecturer, poet, screenwriter, songwriter, playwrite, host, blogger, publishing consultant and literacy advocate, who has won a 2001 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature in Fiction, a 2006 Phillis Wheatley Literary Award for Body of Work in Urban Fiction, a 2008 Citation from the City Council of Philadelphia for the African-American Children's Book Fair, and a 2010 HBCU Legends Award for his tiresome work in urban literacy.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he graduated from the prestigious Central High School in 1987, Tyree first attended the University of Pittsburgh as a Pharmacy major and an aspiring football player. After spending his first two years at Pitt, he found his new passion and calling as a writer and storyteller, penning his first published series, “The Diary of a Freshman” along with two novels; Colored, On White Campus, (now titled College Boy in his Urban Griot series) and Flyy Girl, which became a contemporary urban classic that spawned an entire genre of so-called “urban/street lit” books.
Tyree transferred to the respected HBCU of Howard University to finish his education as a writer in the Fall of 1989. Leaving the English Department and the School of the Liberal Arts for the School of Communications, he graduated cum laude with a degree in Print Journalism in the Fall of 1991. While at Howard, he created, produced and published “Food For Thought” a student opinion column in The Hilltop newspaper, along with publishing several Washington, DC-based news articles for the Black Press.
Upon graduation from Howard, Tyree established his own publishing company, MARS Productions in early 1992 at the tender age of 23. He then self-published and marketed his first three novels, including Capital City, which chronicled Washington, DC’s violent drug culture, and went on to sell 25,000 copies of his first three titles in mostly African-American book stores with distribution sources from Newport News, Virginia, to Queens, New York.
By the Spring of 1995, Tyree’s publishing activity attracted the attention of several major publishing houses, including Simon & Schuster, where he signed his first two-book publishing deal for a $250,000 advance at age 26. As they say, the rest is his-story as Tyree went on to publish 14 straight novels with Simon & Schuster. He also published two short story books, including a children's book, 12 Brown Boys, that was picked up by Scholastic and a non-fiction business book, The Equation, on entrepreneurship with John Wiley & Sons.
The new novel, All Access, becomes Tyree's 28th published book with more than 2.5 million copies sold worldwide, including six original ebooks and co-authoring Mayor For Life; The Incredible Story of Marion Barry Jr. Tyree's books have created a worlwide brand name in the publishing industry that has generated more than $30 million.
He has also been published in five anthology books and several major newspapers, including; The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The News Journal and The Charlotte Post, along with several national magazines, including; Ebony, Essence, Upscale, Uptown, The Black Collegian and The Washington View. He has also been featured on national blog web sites; The Huffington Post and TheDailyVoice.com.
Along with dozens of literacy awards from various national organizations, Tyree has founded and formed his own nonprofit arm of the Urban Literacy Project (ULP), where he highlights “The 5 Key Components of Literacy” (Reading, Writing, Thinking, Visualization and Application). He published 12 Brown Boys for young urban readers in September of 2008 and continues his tireless community work in urban literacy.
Hailed as one of the most passionate and informed speakers on the subjects of art, business, community, culture, education and entertainment, Tyree has been a featured lecturer at more than 60 major American institutions, colleges and universities, including Harvard, Yale, Michigan State, Texas A&M and UCLA.
Most recently, Omar Tyree's urban classic Flyy Girl trilogy novel series was optioned for a feature film production by Code Black and Lions Gate Films, starring Love & Basketball Sanaa Lathan. And on Tuesday, October 6, 2015, Tyree will launch his new publishing imprint OTI (Omar Tyree Incorporated) with the explosive release of his latest and most timely novel, All Access.
DR. DEANA ERVIN
“As a mother of young adults, I learned the hard way that you have to "own" your student's college admissions process. School staff do not always guide ALL students through effective college plans that meet their needs, interests, or abilities. Working with thousands of youth and college students revealed an urgent need for COMPREHENSIVE COLLEGE COACHING that educates and equips our youth for the overwhelming navigation required to GET INTO & GRADUATE FROM higher education institutions.”
Determined to make a difference in the achievement gaps and low college enrollment rates witnessed throughout many communities, Dr. Ervin launched Black & College Bound Scholars, a youth leadership development organization devoted to preparing youth and families in the areas of College & Career Readiness.
Her doctoral research thoroughly explores college access for urban students of color and best practices designed to eradicate achievement gaps, while increasing minority graduation rates and self-efficacy (the belief in one's own ability to achieve tasks and set goals, while managing their future and transitions successfully).
Dr. Ervin serves as an educational consultant for school districts, administrators, and youth serving organizations implementing research-based strategies to improve college and career readiness performance indicators in support of AYP, CCRPI, YPQA , Common Core standard and other national accreditation systems.
DR. JOYLENE JOHN - SOWAH
Dr. John-Sowah received her B.A. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and her M.D. from Weill Cornell University Medical College. She completed a residency in Family Practice at the University of Maryland, and a residency in General Preventive Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, during which she received her M.P.H.
Dr. John-Sowah has worked both as a clinician and as a public health professional. In her public health career, Dr. John-Sowah led national health guidelines initiatives both at the American Medical Association and at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. She has substantial experience writing and editing grants, scientific documents, and white papers, as well as conducting evidence-based reviews.
However, her passion is for helping parents and students negotiate the college admissions process. As a member of an immigrant family, she has first-hand knowledge of the challenges that accompany being unfamiliar with the educational system and the missed opportunities that can occur. She hopes to help others take advantage of all the opportunities to be found in our educational system. She has spent numerous hours working with students to develop their admissions essays and assist them in getting into their identified colleges. Currently Dr. John-Sowah is exploring new directions and looking to take all of these experiences and weave them into a career that incorporates her ‘first loves’, reading, writing, and connecting people to resources, in ways that will leave positive and lasting impacts on the souls of the people with whom she interacts.
Sia Knight is a college admissions coach who helps busy families plan and prepare for college in a way that helps to decrease out-of-pocket education costs.
Sia has over 20 years of experience in education and college degrees from three universities: James Madison University (B.S.), Old Dominion University (M.Ed.) and the University of Virginia (Ed.S.). She has spent the last two decades working with students and parents as a teacher, school counselor, central office administrator and high school assistant principal.
Sia Knight’s story is one of triumph in the face of adversity and achievement against all odds. As the only child of a single mother, Sia received the message very early that the pursuit of higher education was a clear expectation. Although Sia’s mother had the desire for her daughter to attend college, she lacked the ability to help with the details of how to get her to and through college. With the help of many mentors and college access programs, Sia was able to meet and exceed her mother’s highest hopes.
Sia now has the opportunity to assist families in the same way that she was helped many years ago. As The College Savvy Coach, her mission is to provide 21st century families with timely and relevant information about how to navigate the college admissions process.
1 Educator + 20 Years = Over 3,000 Students Moving Closer to Their Dreams
After a season-ending Achilles tendon rupture, my hopes of an athletic scholarship disappeared. And shortly after that… my grandfather died. To cope, I began spending my time studying successful students, making a lot of scholarship mistakes, and drinking a ton of green tea. But those efforts resulted in me earning about $200,000 in scholarships and graduating from college DEBT-FREE. And to be honest, had it not been for scholarships, I never would’ve started my doctorate at 23.
Today, I’m on a mission to teach everything I know about scholarships to help others pay for college.
Naulie Vilsaint has been a professional in the financial aid world for over 2 decades. She has been able to progressively spearhead some of the positive changes to both a for-profit and nonprofit institution in order for students to receive their financial aid without any questions once their education is completed. Naulie’s focus is to always make sure that students leave an institution without any financial burdens they may not be able to handle in the future.
Naulie Vilsaint is currently the Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Broward College in South Florida. She was brought in as a resourceful financial aid professional within the educational organization to focus on a more streamline financial aid system so students can focus on the educational aspect of college. Naulie is both diligent and committed to helping current and future students understand the financial aid process. She has been in the industry for over 20 years and has dedicated her career to helping both students and parents understand what the financial aid side looks like.
Prior to working at Broward College, Naulie worked at Keiser University as the Associate Director of Financial Aid. She played a key role in the process of transferring the school from a for-profit to a non-profit institution. Collaborating with internal departments helped fine-tune an efficient financial aid platform.
Naulie earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Barry University. This brought out her curiosity to how diabetes affects the community of South Florida. Naulie Vilsaint is a former Board Member of American Diabetes Association.