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Student Advisers

As part of Kaplan’s ‘Adviser for Life’ program (AFL), when you first become a student with us, you are allocated a dedicated Student Adviser who will be your contact throughout your studies. Your Student Adviser is there to keep you up to date with important information as well as being available to assist in decisions about subject enrolments and to offer general advice.

Meet our team of dedicated Student Advisers below:

Dianna-La-Grassa

Dianna’s passion for education and financial services shines through at Kaplan Professional. With an investment and relationship management background, she believes in building strong relationships and working collaboratively to achieve success. Dianna holds a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology and Criminology), Master of Business Administration and RG 146 in Securities.

 

How long have you been at Kaplan Professional?

Five years.

 

Best study tip for students?

We all have busy lives and other things that tempt us from completing our studies. When completing courses online, it’s about self-discipline and planning. Plan for the unexpected and stay focused; distractions are everywhere!

 

Favourite movie?

Way too hard to answer as I am a huge movie fan.

 

You can invite three people to dinner (living or dead, real or fictional). Who do you invite and what do you cook?

Ernst Hemmingway, Michelle Williams and Oprah

I would cook Italian, need to stay true to my heritage. Way too much pasta, cheese, cannoli, cured meats, and bread.

 

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Working with our team to help build and improve on our student experience. Continuously looking for ways to make things more streamlined and efficient allowing for a better overall experience for our students. It’s great when our team receives positive feedback and a student is really happy with their studies.

 

Favourite food?

Indian.

 

Tell us a little bit about your hometown.

I grew up in a small developing suburb in Toronto, Canada. There were only six houses on the street, rowdy young kids, and lots, and lots of land to run around on. Making ice forts, building snowmen, snowball fights, and tobogganing were all fun past times. It was spectacular!

 

How do you like to unwind on the weekend?

I enjoy catching up with friends over brunch, hanging out at the beach, reading, and cooking. I am also a pretty big gym junkie, so head there as often as possible.

 

Do you have any interesting hobbies / interests?

My biggest hobbies are cooking, enjoying a whiskey and watching a good film.

 

What is your dream job?

My dream job is to become a voice or advocate for people with disabilities. Working to give them the same opportunities as others within our communities.

 

Alex

Despite being from Philadelphia, PA, Alec spent so much time in Hawaii as a child, as well as attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa, that he feels almost at home when he steps off the plane at Honolulu International Airport.

While completing his BA in Asian Studies, he spent a year studying abroad in Japan at JF Oberlin University in Machida, Tokyo.

 

How long have you been at Kaplan Professional?

I started working for Kaplan Professional in March 2015.

 

Best study tip for students?

Create a flexible study plan that allows you to review the material on a regular basis and not cram in the weeks leading up to an assessment. I’ve never found last minute cramming to help retain the studied information and more often than not, it just increases the stress you feel before an exam.

 

Favourite movie?

I love comic books so at the moment, it’s probably Avengers, if only for the pure spectacle and experience.

 

You can invite three people to dinner (living or dead, real or fictional). Who do you invite and what do you cook?

Patrick Stewart, Roger Federer, Anne McCaffrey

I would cook the only thing I know how to cook without a recipe: fried rice.

 

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Helping students adapt to the technological challenges of online, distance learning.

 

Favourite food?

Chinese food, though I wouldn’t say no to a good slice of pizza.

 

Tell us a little bit about your hometown.

While I spent my summers in Hawaii, and ended up living in NJ for most of my teenage years, I always consider Philly (Philadelphia) my home town. It’s a great sized city where everything in the centre of town is within walking distance. One of my favourite features is the use of spare walls next to parking as canvases for murals.

 

How do you like to unwind on the weekend?

I’ve found that starting my weekend mornings with 90 minutes of yoga at 7:30 puts me in a relaxed mood for the rest of the day.

 

Do you have any interesting hobbies / interests?

I enjoy playing tennis or video games and reading comic books.

 

What is your dream job?

There isn’t anything specific but whatever it is will involve helping people integrate technology into their lives.

 

Contact Alec – 

Email: a.rammler-young@kaplan.edu.au

nicole-colubriale

How long have you been at Kaplan Professional?

Four years.

 

Best study tip for students?

Always take advantage of the early access period. Every bit of study helps.

 

Favourite movie?

Minions. They’re adorable to watch, even though I can’t understand what they’re saying most of the time.

 

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I like knowing I’ve been a part of a student’s journey to achieve their qualification.

 

Favourite food?

Italian.

 

How do you like to unwind on the weekend?

Binging on Netflix and spending time with family and friends.

 

Do you have any interesting hobbies / interests?

Shopping, reading … and when I can be really motivated, the gym.

 

You can invite three people to dinner (living or dead, real or fictional). Who do you invite and what do you cook?

I’m the best of cooks, so I like to keep it simple. I would invite my family and friends for pasta.

 

Tell us a little bit about your hometown.

I have always lived in Sydney, Australia.

 

What is your dream job?

I don’t have a dream job in mind … yet. I’m happy doing what I’m doing.

 

Contact Nicole –

Email: n.colubriale@kaplan.edu.au

Denise Carretta

With experience in a variety of fields, Denise’s passion is the scaffolding of learning and the development of pathways for student success. She managed a section in the government for several years before seeking a career change into the education industry, where she worked as a high school teacher and a facilitator / trainer in the pharmaceutical industry. She holds a Master of Education.

 

How long have you been at Kaplan Professional?

3 months.

 

Best study tip for students?

I found the best time to study was very early in the morning. It is quiet, your mind is fresh, and there are few distractions.

 

Favourite movie?

The Bucket List.

 

You can invite three people to dinner (living or dead, real or fictional). Who do you invite and what do you cook?

It would be at St Marks Square in Italy eating fine Italian food. I would invite Andrea Boccelli, Monet and Grace Kelly.

 

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Being relatively new it would have to be getting to know students.

 

Favourite food?

Fattoush salad with pomegranate.

 

Tell us a little bit about your hometown.

I grew up in Sydney, Australia. I love Sydney for it’s coastal living, and the ability to travel a relatively short distance to appreciate the beauty of the bush.

 

How do you like to unwind on the weekend?

We often go up to a holiday cottage on the coast a few hours north of Sydney. Clean sandy beaches, dolphin watching, and at night you can almost touch the stars.

 

Do you have any interesting hobbies / interests?

I like to paint and sketch.

 

What is your dream job?

I am fascinated about the power of narrative to effect social change after studying this as a university subject. My ideal job would be one where I could positively effect change.

 

Contact Denise –

Email: d.carretta@kaplan.edu.au

emma-rigelsford

How long have you been at Kaplan Professional?

Since March 2016.

 

Best study tip for students?

Utilise the online resources available to you. They’re there for a reason!

 

Favourite movie?

How to Train Your Dragon. It may be a kids movie but it’s the funniest/cutest movie ever.

 

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy knowing I have played a part in helping students achieve their goals.

 

Favourite food?

Anything I can smother in cheese … mainly Italian or Mexican food.

 

How do you like to unwind on the weekend?

I unwind by listening to music, seeing my friends and catching up on all my TV shows.

 

Do you have any interesting hobbies / interests?

These aren’t overly interesting, however, I enjoy reading, playing the piano and taking photos of my dog.

 

You can invite three people to dinner (living or dead, real or fictional). Who do you invite and what do you cook?

I would invite Matthew Bellamy, Richard Hammond and Emma Watson. I would cook enchiladas because it’s amazing.

 

Tell us a little bit about your hometown.

I grew up in western Sydney, right at the foot of the Blue Mountains. It’s a very pretty place with lots of trees and fresh air.

 

What is your dream job?

I don’t really have a dream job, I simply hope that I’m happy doing what I’m doing and am good at it.

 

Contact Emma –

Email: emma.rigelsford@kaplan.edu.au

Flladi Myrteza

Flladi’s knowledge and skills honed in a variety roles across the pharmaceutical, legal and travel industries are an asset to the team. Additionally, her experience in both vocational and higher education at Kaplan Professional ensure she’s well versed in dealing with student needs.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Advanced French and Greek) from UNSW.

 

How long have you been at Kaplan Professional?

Since February 2014.

 

Best study tip for students?

Plan your time, discover your learning style, stay motivated and ask for help!

 

Favourite movie?

I have lots, but one of them is ‘Good Will Hunting’ by Gus Van Sant.

 

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I really enjoy interacting with my students and getting to know them on a personal level. The idea that I am contributing to someone’s future success gives me great satisfaction, and keeps me motivated to improve myself within the role.

 

Favourite food?

Definitely Mediterranean food.

 

How do you like to unwind on the weekend?

Going for a run, spending time with friends and family, and of course, shopping!

 

Do you have any interesting hobbies / interests?

Reading, travelling and singing.

 

You can invite three people to dinner (living or dead, real or fictional). Who do you invite and what do you cook?

I would invite Jesus Christ, Robin Williams and Princess Diana. No idea what I’d cook, so I would probably make it a potluck.

 

Tell us a little bit about your hometown.

I come from a small, alpine town called Ersekë, which is located in south-eastern Albania, but I also lived for many years in Athens, Greece, before moving to Sydney 10 years ago.

 

What is your dream job?

My dream job would be to work for the United Nations, in the political, peace and humanitarian sector.

 

Contact Flladi –

Email: f.myrteza@kaplan.edu.au

Mercedes Dent

Mercedes comes to Kaplan Professional with a wealth of student services experience and an in-depth knowledge of the finance industry, particularly in cross-cultural communication. She worked in advertising for many years as an account executive before moving to Australia in 1999, and has since worked in customer service, student engagement and as a practice manager for a small financial planning practice.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Advertising).

 

How long have you been at Kaplan Professional?

Since November 2015.

 

Best study tip for students?

Get in contact with our Librarian. I am sure there are many things we all think we know, but we don’t.

 

Favourite movie?

I am a dedicated cinephile therefore it is easier to pinpoint the type of movies I do not enjoy. I don’t like horror movies.

 

You can invite three people to dinner (living or dead, real or fictional). Who do you invite and what do you cook?

Right now I would invite Diana Gabaldon, the author of the Outlander book series; Ludovico Einaudi, the piano composer; and my husband. These three people have the capacity to touch my soul and make me happy. I’d serve beef carpaccio as an entrée, followed by handmade gnocchi in a blue cheese sauce, and then a small portion of pork roast and crackling served with variety of baked vegetables and salad. For dessert, I’d make a light pavlova roulade, which is a version of the traditional dish but looks prettier on the plate.

 

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Helping students achieve their goals. I know it sounds like a cliché but it really gives me a buzz.

 

Favourite food?

Dozens of dishes. I try everything … and I always close my eyes for the first mouthful!

 

Tell us a little bit about your hometown.

I grew up between Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, and Parma, a small city in Italy. Each city has a different fragrance. Parma is earthy and smells like nature and ripe tomatoes. Caracas smells like a new building of concrete and new things at the same time. I can close my eyes and recall them individually.

 

How do you like to unwind on the weekend?

With a good book or gardening during the day and then a glass of good wine in the company of friends.

 

Do you have any interesting hobbies / interests?

Reading and gardening.

 

What is your dream job?

It changes. I have had a few paths in my life. Nevertheless, I like to be challenged, making decisions that impact others, and in contact with the public.

 

Contact Mercedes –

Email: m.dent@kaplan.edu.au

paula-navarro

Paula is passionate about mental health, education and government policies. She holds a Master of Teaching and majored in media and visual culture, history and political thought, and educational studies at university.

 

How long have you been at Kaplan Professional?

Since May, 2016

 

Best study tip for students?

Sometimes it takes years to get the result you want so you should not stop trying.

 

Favourite movie?

Any Hayao Miyazaki films (Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, etc).

 

You can invite three people to dinner (living or dead, real or fictional). Who do you invite and what do you cook?

My mother, my father and my partner. The house would be on fire if I cook, so the safest option would be to order pizza.

 

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The most rewarding part of my role is watch the students be awarded their Academic Testamur during the Graduation Ceremony.

 

Favourite food?

Mango float – it’s a Filipino dish with mangoes, cream and crackers. Best combination ever.

 

Tell us a little bit about your hometown.

I have always lived in South West Sydney – Campbelltown.

 

How do you like to unwind on the weekend?

I like to keep to myself. However, I do enjoy working with people who have mental or physical disabilities on the weekend – I have been doing this for the past 5 years.

 

Do you have any interesting hobbies / interests?

I’m an artsy person, so that’s very straightforward. I also play video games, watch movies and yes, go to the gym.

 

What is your dream job?

Something in government defence policy and intelligence or social welfare. Otherwise, I want to be Batman.

 

Contact Paula –

Email: p.navarro@kaplan.edu.au