The Essay Coach

Hello.  open-book

I’m Denise Shekerjian, your go-to essay coach. My job is to support college counselors, relieve family stress, and help students write winning application essays. I’m here for you start to finish, and together we get it done so that you can carry on with the great adventure of your life.


What’s the backstory?

I am a writer with a passion for helping students progress with their educational pursuits.  I am also a lawyer and published author of books, literary essays, narrative nonfiction, a blog, and the occasional short story.

As a writer, I specialize in nonfiction and am skilled in the storytelling arts. As a lawyer, I know a thing or two about the art of persuasion.


Need to tell your story?  I work with:

College-bound students on those all-important essays for admissions.  I help you identify your best ideas, show you how to give them shape and voice, and oversee your writing progress from start to finish to make your materials memorable.  I also help with short answers, supplemental essays, insight questions, cover letters, recommendation requests, resumes, CVs, brief biographies, and statements of purpose.

 Graduate students including law, medical, engineering, and business school applicants on targeted essays that distinguish candidates from the competition.

Medical school graduates on the residency application personal essay for match purposes, as well CVs, brief biographies, and resumes.

Fellowship applicants on compelling narratives, a statement of objectives, a summary of research, and proof of fit and competency.

SAT essay prep students on helping you understand the exam, create a strategy for success, and boost your score.

beautiful journalist looks typewriter Transfer students on the identification of objectives and the reasons for the change.

Students for whom something has gone sideways on an explanation that puts the matter, candidly and forthrightly, in the best light.

Students who have been invited to interview on the potential questions and answers, tone, message, body language, and follow-up. I have helped applicants with school admission interviews, job interviews, and am serving as an MMI interviewer for the Larner School of Medicine.



Based in Vermont, I work one-on-one, in person if you are local, or by phone. I can help you no matter where you and where you want to go.  I review and improve existing material or help you create it from scratch. My prices range depending upon your needs, so let’s talk! The first consultation is free.


What Clients Say 



“Thanks again for your help with our daughter. It is a tremendous relief to have it complete! I will be very glad when the college search is over next spring. In the meantime, I am trying to find some enjoyment in the search. Meeting you absolutely has been one of the highpoints along the way.  Thanks again!”

    ~ Parent of a college-bound senior, 2017

“Working with Denise was an absolute pleasure. She quickly helped me better understand what I needed to do to improve, and helped me practice those skills each week. Her feedback on my writing was invaluable. Thanks again for helping me improve so much.” 

          ~  SAT prep Student, 2017

“Denise’s work with our son was remarkably professional and personalized, and her ability to understand his unique qualities made the process enjoyable and rewarding for him.  We were grateful for how often and well she communicated with us throughout the process.  We wouldn’t hesitate to call on her again.”

           ~  Parent, SAT prep, 2017

“Thank you so much for all your help.  You were incredible with my ridiculous timeline.”  

      ~ Applicant, Medical Residency, 2017; 24-hour turnaround on two essays!

“It was really wonderful work with Denise. She is able to take ideas and create a narrative in a way I would not have been able to do myself. She was quick to respond and helpful throughout the entire process.”

            ~ Applicant, Medical Residency, 2017

“Denise was great to work with. She helped consolidate my personal statement in way that was concise, yet refined to my core values and desired message. From draft, to revision, to completion of the final statement, she provided prompt and excellent guidance along the way.”

            ~ Applicant, Medical Residency, 2017

“Denise was great with teasing out what I could draw from in writing an essay. I came to her with a vague idea of what I wanted my essay to be about, and after working with her, felt that I had a really strong essay that I could send out to all the schools I wanted to go to. Once you feel confident that you have a strong essay, you can breathe. Thanks, Denise!”

~  Transfer Student, 2017

“Bravo Denise! Talk about hitting right out of the ballpark and showcasing the real me down to a science. I’m very happy with your work. You did a superb job and I wish I could write as effortlessly as you!!   Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are a star.” 

~Graduate student, 2017

“Denise not only made my writing shine but went above and beyond to become familiar with all facets of my story to truly capture the uniqueness of what I wanted to convey in my essays. Her professionalism, positive attitude, and superb writing abilities made what first seemed to be a daunting task (personal statement writing for grad school admissions), an enjoyable experience. She works fast, is meticulous, a problem-solver, and an absolute joy to work with start to finish.”

~ Graduate student, medical program applicant, 2017

“Thank you, so much, for the great presentation! Inspiring and well organized. You are full of fantastic information, and I am glad we had an opportunity to share that with our local students. It was quite rewarding to see those students find information that opened doors to them. They were quite enthusiastic in praising what they learned!”

~ Adult Services Librarian, 2017

“I worked with Denise with the hopes of making a couple quick edits to my college essay, and perfecting it as best I could. Little did I know, I had a lot of fine tuning to do. Denise is a very knowledgable, accredited professional who understands how the English language works. She understands what the reader wants, and how to get your message across as precisely as possible. Thanks to her, I submitted the strongest piece of writing I’ve every created, and was accepted to college and able to achieve my dreams of becoming a certified strength and conditioning coach. Without her I would have never achieved my dreams. If you’re looking for guidance or a helping hand, Denise’s charismatic and kind personality will help you until the very end. You won’t be sorry.”

~ Norwich University Student, Class of 2017.

“I felt that your program was of such help and instruction to the teens who attended. Many commented to me as they left that they were glad to have attended.  I watched audience members as you spoke, and many were taking copious notes.  Thanks also for the batch of chocolate chip cookies you baked.  That was above and beyond!”

Youth Services Librarian, 2017,  Bixby Memorial Free Library

“Denise! You have gone above and beyond — thank you. I surely appreciate your assistance.”

~ 4th year Medical Student, Larner College of Medicine, 2017

“Resumes . . . Ughh!  I am a 45-year-old professional with 15 years of experience in my chosen profession.  When my long-time employer and I parted ways, I had to create a whole new resume.  As it’s one of my least favorite things, not surprisingly I had a hard time motivating myself to embrace this process.  Writing a resume is now an art form to some extent, whole businesses dedicated to it and skill sets brought to bear that really aren’t in my arsenal of talents.  I knew basically what I wanted to say and how I wanted to present myself, but wasn’t exactly sure how to say it, frame it, or format it.  

A friend connected me to Denise, which was a godsend.  I sat with her initially for about 2 hours (felt like much less time) and was very pleased to find at the end of our time that we had basically finished my resume.  Denise was very good about suggesting word or sentence changes and substitutions.  She was very helpful in drilling down into what really mattered, how it should be highlighted, where, and why.

With the resume in place, she turned next to sharpening my interview skills.  I had not interviewed with anyone for over 8 years so I was, to say the least, a little rusty.  I also had some things to explain (don’t we all) and this can get tricky.  I spent about another 1 – 1.5 hours with Denise talking about some of the most common questions, how best to answer them, what answers an employer hopes to hear, what qualities speak well of me, how to answer the tricky things, and felt much, much better about it.  She’s tough,too, and wouldn’t let me get away with anything wishy-washy.  When I gave a crummy answer, she walked me through the correct thinking, and then circled back to that question again and again in the course of our time together to be sure I got it! 

I am very grateful for the time that I spent with Denise and I found all of it to be very helpful.  Denise is very smart, nice, and genuinely concerned with helping.”

~ Applicant looking for a new job and possibly a new career, 2017.

“In late summer, I finally began writing my memoir The Seventh Child, which has been steeping in me for years. In September, I had around thirty single spaced pages to my credit and the awareness that I needed structure and support. My work life as an educational therapist/ special educator was about to lurch into full speed. With that awareness and my thirty pages, I began looking for someone to offer me that support and structure so I could continue writing throughout the year. This is where Denise Shekerjian steps onto my stage.

What a gift! Denise has not only offered me structure, she has brought me a boatload of inspiration, encouragement and constructive criticism. Denise possesses both the capacity to nourish and the commitment to honest and straightforward criticism where needed. In addition, she has the requisite finesse and delicacy of expression so that the vulnerability of the writer is soothed rather than agitated when reading or listening to her feedback.

Denise has all of these qualities together with a keen intelligence and a quick insight response. Of course, she also has the grammatical and syntactical expertise, a necessary skill set of a developmental editor. Denise has been exceptionally prompt and flexible with her time; she has generously accommodated my exacting schedule. My manuscript has inched its way to ninety pages and has acquired more unity and grace under Denise’s watchful eye. Denise has become an inextricable part of my writing life and should become a part of yours. I cannot recommend her enough! Thank you Denise.     

~ JoAnna B. Easton, poet, writer, Fall, 2016




Songwriter Bobby Gosh’s great memoir, Confessions of a Marijuana Eater, Red Barn Press, Spring, 2016.

“I would like to thank . . . Denise Shekerjian for giving me a mini-master class in writing; for her early editing help; and for her encouragement that my story was worth writing about. She was there for me every step of the way.  Without her help, this book would not be the book it is.”

~ Bobby Gosh, from the acknowledgments page, 2016



Feel free to be in touch and thanks for dropping by.



Copyright © 2017 Denise Shekerjian, All rights reserved.
Photo of Denise by Michael Metz.  Other photos: Google images.


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