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Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Minor in Psychological Science, Pennsylvania State University
Mikayla first became interested in human genetics while completing her undergraduate coursework. After learning more about the field of genetic counseling, Mikayla shadowed a cancer genetic counselor near her hometown for a summer. She also participated in a genetic counseling summer internship program at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL. At that internship, she learned about many different aspects to the field of genetic counseling, including but not limited to ethical and cultural issues, psychosocial skills, and roles in public health and health policies. In addition to shadowing and interning, Mikayla also worked as a Therapeutic Support Staff (TSS) for Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. based in Berks County, PA, for a year post-graduation. In this position, she provided one on one individualized mental health interventions and support services to children and adolescents with mental health diagnoses and behavioral difficulties. Through these experiences, Mikayla developed a great interest in genetic counseling and a passion for helping others. In her spare time, she enjoys baking and spending time with friends and family.
Mikayla’s thesis project is focused on exploring how Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) is being discussed by women on online pregnancy forums.
Bachelor of Science in Biology, San Diego State University
During undergrad, Natalie was involved in a biotechnology student association where she heard a guest speaker share their personal experiences with genetic counseling, ultimately piquing her interest. In a desire to learn more about the field, she gained experience by shadowing and volunteering with genetic counselors in her area. Her enthusiasm to enter the field quickly grew. To gain counseling experience, she volunteered as a crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line. Following graduation, she moved to Charlottesville, VA, where she worked as a genetic counseling assistant at the University of Virginia in the Cardiovascular Genetics Program. In her free time, Natalie enjoys taking spin classes, travelling, and spending time with friends and family.
For Natalie’s thesis, she is exploring family members’ perspectives on the barriers of postmortem genetic testing in sudden cardiac death cases.
Bachelor of Science in Molecular Genetics, Minor in Clinical Psychology and Individual Differences, Ohio State University
Jenna first learned about genetic counseling after being introduced to an undergraduate club of students interested in becoming genetic counselors. She spent four years with the club volunteering with families affected by genetic conditions and shadowing genetic counselors across many specialties. During school and after graduating, Jenna worked as a genetic counseling assistant for two different cancer clinics across Ohio. Jenna’s thesis project stems from her personal interest in how genetic counselors and other physicians can work together to reach more patients. She will be interviewing patients with a pathogenic variant in a cancer gene about their experiences with genetic testing ordered by providers with no formal training in genetics. Outside of school, Jenna enjoys fantasy and sci-fi novels and video games.
Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Minor in Human Biology, Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti, MI)
Aidan found his passion for genetic counseling while working as a genetic counseling assistant at the University of Michigan cancer center, where he developed an admiration for the unique role counselors serve in the care of their patients. His experiences in caring for patients, combined with a life-long love of the health sciences, solidified his conviction to pursue genetic counseling as a career. In his free time, Aidan enjoys serving his community, collecting synthesizers, and running.
Aidan’s thesis explores patients’ and counselors’ experiences in participating in video assisted genetic counseling sessions.
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Minor in Biology & Genetic Counseling, University of Delaware
Rachel grew up wanting to be a family counselor and discovered Genetic Counseling during her first semester of college. She loved how the profession combines aspects of family counseling while also catering towards her interests in Genetics. She added a biology minor as a sophomore as well as a Genetic Counseling minor when it was created her senior year. She shadowed in the genetic counseling office at Helen Graham Cancer Center at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware her senior year. This experience made her realize how much she loved the range of specialties that can be pursued in the field. After graduating she went on to work as a genetic counseling assistant at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia. This position exposed her to logistics that go into a successful genetic clinic to be run and further built on her desire to go into the profession. During down time in the program Rachel loves cooking new recipes, reading, and exploring local parks and nature trails.
For her thesis, Rachel is interviewing prenatal care providers about current practices regarding screening for chromosomal abnormalities, with a specific focus on opinions about non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) for all women.
Bachelor of Science in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, Minor in Psychology, University of California, Davis
Justin began his journey with genetic counseling during his third year of undergrad after his genetics professor described it as a rapidly developing field of medicine. To further explore this exciting career, he began volunteering as an assistant in the UC Davis Genomic Medicine Clinic and as a volunteer crisis counselor. He felt excited to finally find a field that integrates his passion for medicine, mental health advocacy, and education accessibility. After completing his undergraduate education, he furthered his experience as a genetic counseling assistant in the UCSF Biochemical Genetic Medicine Clinic where he was able to help patients and their families navigate the complexities of metabolic conditions. In his free time, Justin enjoys getting coffee and exploring local parks or relaxing at California beaches back home.
For his thesis, Justin is interested in exploring how patients perceive genetic counseling students’ participation in their care. Specifically, he wants to evaluate patients’ experiences with students and how their comfort levels and attitudes may change when students are present. It is important to understand patients’ perspectives and determine if genetic counseling programs and supervisors can change their practices to enhance both the students’ and patients’ experiences.
Bachelor of Science in Biobehavioral Health, minor in Biology, Pennsylvania State University
Having always been fascinated with genetics and medicine, Lauren’s journey to becoming a genetic counselor started after changing majors in undergrad and discovering what careers alumni pursued in the healthcare field. Lauren furthered her passion for teaching and helping others by becoming a teaching assistant for physiology and genetics courses, as well as volunteering to staff a crisis hotline and train new hotline staff. To gain more experience in the genetic counseling field, Lauren moved to Columbus, Ohio to work as a genetic counseling assistant at Nationwide Children’s Hospital before entering graduate school. In her free time, Lauren likes to explore new hiking trails around Philadelphia, spend time with friends and her cat.
For her thesis, Lauren will be interviewing genetic counselors working in metabolism to characterize their unique roles and responsibilities in this unique subspecialty field and to gain perspectives of the adequacy of educational opportunities preparing one to pursue a role in metabolism.