Meet the Academic Coaches

Sarah Kravits

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Greetings! My name is Sarah Kravits. I earned a Master of Education degree from the Rutgers Graduate School of Education in 2020, and I have a B.A. in English and Drama from the University of Virginia and an M.F.A. in Acting from The Catholic University of America. Over the last 20 years I have worked as an actor, written a series of textbooks (Keys to Success, published by Pearson Education), and taught student success (most recently at Montclair State University), and now I work full-time as an academic coach here at Rutgers.

My particular interest is in motivation and self-management. I want to help you figure out what motivates you to learn, organize your life so that your energy goes toward your priorities, manage your devices (rather than having them manage you), and keep growing in your self-advocacy and self-knowledge. 

Because I wear many hats as an educator, writer, and parent, I bring multiple perspectives to my work with students. Each of you is a unique universe with individual strengths and challenges, experiences, obstacles, and goals. Within you are the tools to build the learning and working life you envision for yourself – my job is to help you identify those tools and put them to work. I look forward to partnering with you as you build your one-of-a-kind "toolbox for success."

Lissette Morales

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Hi there! Would you describe yourself as smart but scattered? If so, I can help! I am academic coach, Lissette Morales. By providing structures and systems to manage daily life along with personalized educational and emotional support, coaching teaches you the skills needed to succeed in college and life!  By the end of 2-3 semesters, most students I coach learn to coach themselves. Ultimately, that is the goal!

As your coach, I will cheer, teach, and support you from the sidelines, but I do not play in the game. You do! You decide what you will do, how you will do it, and by when. And when you fumble, I do not judge because I have faith that you have what it takes to persevere no matter what! Partner with me to set up structures and systems early in the semester to have them up and running before finals! Together we will devise a game plan to reach your goals and put them into action. Are you ready? If so, let's go!

About Lissette. I came to the Learning Centers from Rutgers Athletics, where I served as a Learning Specialist working with student-athletes. Some of my former students are now in the NFL and the WNBA. Their trials and triumphs inspire me! On game day, you will find my husband and me in the stands cheering on the Scarlet Knights. Go, Knights!

Fluent in: English, Spanish

Jackson Toomey

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Hello and welcome! My name is Jackson. I came to Rutgers University after growing up in Willimantic, Connecticut. I have an M.S. degree in Counselor Education with a concentration in Student Development in Higher Education from Central Connecticut State University and a B.S. degree in Communication from Eastern Connecticut State University.

I started working with college students while earning my undergraduate degree. As a peer advisor for my university’s success center and a captain on the men’s soccer team, I developed a passion for helping students reach their goals. Since graduating, I have held roles including academic coach and academic advisor, taught courses on study strategies based on the science of learning, and facilitated workshops on student success. As an academic coach, I am fascinated by the results students can see after combining effort with new learning strategies. I especially enjoy helping you assess and critique your current approach to academics. From there, we can experiment with different strategies to determine what feels right and works best for you. I applaud your decision to come to academic coaching. While you are in the driver’s seat for your academic journey, you are not alone! Learning is not always easy. It is a continuous process that can be strengthened through practice. I will be there to answer any questions you have and help in any way that I can. These sessions are about you, and I truly believe that coming to academic coaching can benefit all students. I hope to work with you soon!

Misha Faerovitch


Welcome! I am a recent graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelors in Biological Sciences. Rutgers University has given me tremendous opportunities to enrich my academic and professional skills. As your coach, I hope to work with you to develop fundamental and transferable skills that will aid you in becoming the exceptional student you wish to be!

Throughout my time at Rutgers, I have been involved in both academics and research. I have been a non-traditional member of the Rutgers Honors Program, where I have worked with first-year students to combat the challenges of beginning college. I have been an active advocate for the academic community by being a General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry Learning Assistant and enriching the student-learning experience. Also, I have partnered with the Division of Life Sciences where I was a General Biology Study Group Leader and an Undergraduate Genetics Teaching Assistant. Regarding scholarly work, I conducted undergraduate research with both the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School for three years of my undergraduate career.

As a first-generation immigrant, and the first in my family to enroll in a U.S university, I found college to be challenging at times. However, with the right mindset and academic tools it was completely feasible and extremely rewarding.

Fluent in: English, Russian

Gopika Sharma

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Hello! My name is Gopika Sharma and I considered becoming a doctor, until I fell in love with education. Growing up under the Asian stereotype of success, I struggled to claim my own passion as an educator. I'm so happy I did. Today, I am an enthusiastic secondary educator with over six years of experience currently teaching psychology. Succeeding in college requires not just learning content, but also mastering your own mind. As a previous student at Rutgers, I deepened my interest in yoga, meditation and mindfulness to help manage my academics, career exploration and extra-curricular activities. I earned my bachelor's degree in biological sciences and psychology followed by a master's degree in education from Columbia University. I credit my success to a combination of hard work, reflection and meditation and I carry these practices to my work as an educator today. You cannot be at your best if your mind is not at your best. After working with hundreds of students between ages 12 and 22, I realize that there is no uniform toolkit to success and wellness. Today, I draw upon knowledge of science, psychology, education, yoga and a large range of learning strategies to help my students craft individual plans to support their achievement. College is a special time in life to pursue your passion and develop the skills you need to reach your greatest potential. I am grateful to be part of the RLC team and would be honored to support you on your unique journey to success!

Carle Wirshba

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Ahoy fellow learners! My name is Carle Wirshba and I am a Ph.D. student in music here at Rutgers University. My personal path in academia was certainly not a traditional one, but a path I believe has shaped me into the person I am today. I walked into my undergraduate career just another anonymous, anxiety-ridden pre-medical student, tuning out the world with oversized orange headphones.  It took time, but through practice I was not only able to succeed academically but was able to navigate through disciplines and find the field that motivated me, not satisfy a desire by family and friends. Through my shift from pre-med, to clinical psychology, to eventually music composition and theory, I have invested much of my college career overcoming senses of inadequacy in new disciplines. It is how we persevere and push through these difficult challenges that define us. It is accepting uncertainty and new experiences that allows us to learn and grow.

As an academic coach my goal is to make every student-session welcoming, judgment-free, and open to all no matter where they are on their academic journey.  I hope to explore strategies and techniques and find what works best for you!  Everyone learns differently, and not every study strategy, reading tip, or lifestyle change will work for everyone either. Our sessions will be an exploration of different strategies in hopes of finding the right tools you need for success here at Rutgers. It would be an honor to be a partner in your academic journey and hopefully we can squash some of those feelings of inadequacy that I used to feel myself.

Caroline Guirguis

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Welcome to Academic Coaching – I am so happy you are here!
My name is Caroline Guirguis and I come to the Rutgers New Brunswick Learning Centers with a background of working with students on the collegiate levels in roles that help enhance student academic experiences. Rutgers is near and dear to me and has been my old stomping ground since undergraduate studies. I have earned a bachelor's degree in History and Education from Rutgers Newark, as well as a Master's degree in Public Policy with a concentration in education from the Rutgers Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.
I have been fortunate enough during my academic and professional experiences to have been given access to resources and individuals who have helped me ask the right questions and invest in myself and my lifelong learning journey. It is my belief that everyone can attain success and have an effective educational and learning experience when given the proper tools and resources for their personal journey. At Rutgers, there are many opportunities and services available to ultimately provide students with multifaceted support towards their personal and academic success. I am excited to meet you and work with you through Academic Coaching to work together and identify resources and opportunities for your personal journey. 

Fluent in: English, Conversational Arabic

Neha Saju

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Welcome to academic coaching! My name is Neha Saju. I am a recent Rutgers grad and a long time Jersey girl. Graduating summa cum laude in May of 2022 with a Joint Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science, I also minored in French as well as Women’s and Gender Studies. I am currently completing my final year in the Bloustein School’s 3-1-1 Accelerated Bachelor of Arts/Master of Public Policy Program (BA/MPP) with a graduate concentration in education. 

During my time as an undergrad, I was an Eagleton Undergraduate Associate, a Ralph W. Voorhees Public Service Fellow, a Lloyd C. Gardner Fellow, a Leadership Scholar with the Institute of Women’s Leadership, as well as an instructor of a first-year seminar (FIGS program) on Law and Leadership. As a graduate student, I am part of the Eagleton Graduate Fellowship Program in Politics and Government. An avid reader and doting cat mom, I hope to go on to law school after graduating with my MPP. I am honored to be a part of your academic success journey, and I can’t wait to get to know you!

Kristine Byrnes

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Welcome to Academic Coaching - I’m so excited that you’re here! My name is Kristine Byrnes (she/her) and Rutgers has been near and dear to me ever since my older brother attended in the early 2000’s. Ironically enough, I began my undergraduate journey at a different college before I realized that Rutgers is the place for me. This experience definitely helped me understand the unique challenges transfer students face when coming to join the Rutgers family. I went on to graduate with a major in English and a minor in psychology. From there, I earned my Master’s in Education from the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. After graduate school, I spent 8 years as a classroom educator in 3 of the top school districts in New Jersey, where I taught students ranging from 2nd to 7th grade. I absolutely loved helping students refine their reading and writing skills as they used literature as a way to understand themselves and the world around them. That era of my career journey will always hold a special place in my heart.

Teaching during the pandemic also opened my eyes to how a student’s world outside of the classroom impacts their ability to be successful inside the classroom. This is the mindset I use as an Academic Coach. I know that each individual comes to class with a mixture of strengths, talents, academic concerns, personal growth goals, and interpersonal relationship challenges. All of these elements (and more if we’re being honest) play a role in a student’s academic, mental, and physical wellbeing. I am here to help you work on time management skills, study skills, and more, so you can navigate the challenges ahead and come out of your college experience an even stronger, more well-rounded version of yourself. Let’s work together to make your goals a reality!

Emilie Chinchar

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Hello! My name is Emilie Chinchar and I am an Academic Coach at the Rutgers Learning Centers. I recently graduated from Seton Hall University, with my Bachelor’s degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences, with a Minor in Social Work. During my undergraduate career, I had the pleasure of working three years at the Center for Academic Success as a Peer Advisor, mentoring incoming freshmen. This experience allowed me to aid over 70 assigned students on both their academic and personal progress while transitioning into college. I also had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant, instructing four classes over three years, for a mandatory introductory course, which focused on skills for success in a college setting. I believe with my prior work experience with students and continuous passion for higher education, I can help a variety of students identify, plan, and reach their academic goals.

I was interested in Rutgers, because the University has always had a special place for me. Growing up I attended Rutgers football and basketball games with my family, my Dad being a loyal Rutgers fan for as long as I can remember. I still can recount meeting Greg Schiano in 2008 along with my brother "notoriously" being born on Rutgers Day in 2009. My family even had professional photos taken of us all wearing Rutgers gear!

Huma Hussain-Abidi

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Huma Hussain-Abidi is currently a Ph.D. student in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University. She earned her Ed.M. in 2020 and her bachelor's degree in 2018 from Rutgers University. In addition to being an academic coach, Huma is the Director of Education at a national before and after-school care company and also has an educational consulting business. Huma has a passion for education, professional development, mentorship, and coaching and believes that you can do anything if you set your mind to it!

Fluent in: English, Urdu, Hindi

Srishti Pal - Peer Coach

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Hi! My name is Srishti, and I am one of the peer coaches at Rutgers. I am a junior studying Biomedical Engineering at Rutgers. On campus I am involved with some organizations like Hindu YUVA and She the First. I am also an RA for Busch campus. Some fun facts about me are that I love ice cream, beaches, pets, and food.

I have lived in London, New Jersey, New York, Minnesota, New Delhi, Gurgaon. I have moved around a lot which gave me an opportunity to make friends all over the world. It also helped me learn about different cultures as well as learn more about my study style and time management. I learned a lot of study techniques. My personal favorites are the pomodoro method and using notion to keep track of my assignments and extracurricular activities.

As a peer coach, I will help you combat time management, procrastination, lack of motivation and anything that you need to be successful academically. You are in the driver’s seat on the road to success! I wish to instill skills, and challenge you to brainstorm different ways you can develop your own strategies to be successful in and out of your classroom.

Luke Ferrell - Peer Coach

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Welcome to Peer Coaching! My name is Luke Ferrell and I am a Theater major and Human Resource Management, History, and Education minor. I taught a First-Year Interest Group Seminar in Fall 2022 and am lucky to have continued working with the Office of Career Exploration and Success as a Senior Peer Instructor mentoring the next cohort of instructors. On campus I am also the Associate Artistic Director of Cabaret Theatre, where I have directed and music directed productions for the Rutgers community. I also synthesize my theater and education background through teaching theater to local performing arts institutions, schools, and even worldwide (via Zoom). This has led me to start my own performing arts education studio, Ferrell Studios!

I am thrilled to join the Rutgers Learning Centers and to collaborate with you to reach your academic goals. While I am looking forward to share my tips and tricks from my background as an educator and peer leader, I pride myself on fostering a collaborative and welcoming environment, as I am a small piece of the puzzle. As an artist, I know how important it is to know yourself and that knowledge lies with one person- you!

Zeal Patel - Peer Coach

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Hello! My name is Zeal Patel and I am one of the peer coaches here at the learning center.I am a senior majoring in Exercise Science and minoring in psychology. I am currently applying for Physical Therapy School and plan to obtain my DPT. I also currently work as a Learning Assistant for Physics for Sciences 1 & 2. I am also an Ambassador for the Kinesiology department and also part of a service fraternity - APO.

As someone who has previously struggled with finding a method of studying that works for me and time management, while being active in many extracurriculars, I have experience on navigating through stress, time management, and effective studying skills to achieve my goals. With my background as an LA and previous experience of navigating my own journey, I am ready to guide you to take control of your learning and to provide helpful tips and skills that will help you achieve your own goals!