Danielle Kirschbaum

Danielle Kirschbaum, '12 MA, School of Education, Master of Arts in Counseling

What have you done that you are proud of?

I am proud of how I have used my education at LMU to start my own business, something I never imagined being able to do in the past. During my time at LMU, I became interested in the academic enrichment field as a way to support students outside of school so that they can feel more confident and better equipped in class. I sought a part-time job as an assistant for a new tutoring company to learn more about the industry. During the interview, the owner and me realized how much our goals and educational philosophy aligned. Soon after, we decided to become partners in a more comprehensive program that would include tutoring, test prep, and college admissions counseling.

I graduated LMU far more confident, outgoing, and eager than I had ever been before. I felt ready to pursue my dreams in unique and innovative ways. I am most proud when I receive feedback from families that their child feels more confident and, as a result, is seeing improvement across the board. This is the ultimate reward.

How has your work made an impact on your community, school, agency, classroom, clients or students?

The goal of our program is to help students "get more than a score" not only by teaching and mentoring them on the content but also by helping them see the bigger picture of their studies and prep work.

We launched Vault Prep with the goal of helping students become confident, engaged, and independent learners. Our philosophy is to help students explore the material, engage in a meaningful way, and empower them to raise their own bar. Most importantly, we developed our company to be a social benefit business. Using the relationships that I built while at LMU as well as more recent relationships, we provide FREE academic enrichment to students that could not otherwise afford our services.

What evidence can you share that demonstrates this impact?

For every ten hours of service that we provide to a family that can afford our services, we are able to offer a free hour of tutoring to an underserved family. As a result, we have been able to offer free weekly drop-in tutoring at local public middle and high schools, a weekly math clinic for a low SES (socioeconomic status) group at a middle school, weekly math/science tutoring a local non-profit, and several free one-on-one tutoring programs and college counseling mentorships.

The primary feedback that we receive is that our students feel confident and have begun to enjoy the learning process. The best news we can get is when a family no longer needs us because the student has the tools to tackle challenges on their own. It sounds silly that I am happy when someone stops using us, but it is the truth. We have helped over 50 students get into college through one-on-one mentoring and helped several hundred students exceed their test prep goals.

We find that students enjoy coming to our office. They feel respected, comfortable, and safe. They feel encouraged and smart. I love watching our students mature into young adults.