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Class of 2017

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Dina Alaeddin

Born and raised in the small Middle Eastern country of Jordan, Dina was exposed to genetics at a young age and has been interested in the field ever since. Dina graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Genetics from Cardiff University in Wales, UK. During which she volunteered at a Breast Cancer Program, ran laboratory diagnostic tests, sequenced DNA and researched prevalence of genetic disorders in her home country. Dina then moved to Virginia - where she completely lost her British accent and became a DC sports fan - in hopes of finding her niche in the healthcare system. Upon learning more about the Genetic Counseling field, she fell in love with it. Genetic Counseling comprised exactly what she was looking for; Genetics with the clinical, research and educational aspects, all combined. After familiarizing herself with the essentials of the US healthcare system, through working with several physicians and being exposed to several genetic disorders, Dina shadowed genetic counselors and started working as a Genetic Counseling Assistant in the Whole Exome Sequencing program at GeneDx. Dina enjoys travelling and playing sports; specifically basketball. She loves being outside, and cannot wait to further explore the city of Baltimore. She is beyond excited and proud to be part of the UMD GC program.


Liz Cutting

A born and bred Baltimorean, Liz, is excited to join the MGC program at the University of Maryland. Liz is from Towson, MD and graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. While at Princeton, Liz fell in love with genetics after her freshman year epigenetic seminar taught by renowned scientist, Shirley Tilghman. When not in the lab, Liz kept busy at school as a member of the women's varsity lacrosse team. After graduating in 2014, Liz returned to Baltimore to work at the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Program for Personalized and Genomic Medicine. While at UMB, Liz ran focus groups that aimed to improve the way in which clinicians and laboratories communicate genomic data to patients, as well as, designed software that could potentially assist clinicians when viewing a genetic test result. In her spare time, Liz enjoys running, yoga, and exploring her favorite city, Baltimore!


Kristen Leppert

A Maryland native since birth, Kristen is originally from Harford County but moved to Baltimore County to attend college at Towson University. There, she earned her B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology and fell in love with the city of Baltimore. During her undergraduate career, she was an active member of Kappa Delta Sorority, holding multiple leadership positions and enjoying many new experiences - including a trip to Chicago for a leadership training academy. During her time as an undergrad, her coursework and research experiences led Kristen to discover her passion for genetic counseling. Her desire to attend graduate school for genetic counseling continued to grow during her shadowing experiences at Kennedy Krieger, as well as during her time as a volunteer counselor at Whole Woman’s Health, a women’s health clinic which provides abortion care. She is extremely excited to be a part of the genetic counseling program at the University of Maryland, while also living in the heart of Baltimore and experiencing all that the city has to offer. In her free time, Kristen enjoys trying new recipes, cheering on the Orioles at Camden Yards, yoga, and craft beer.


Rachel Schwiter

Rachel, from Fairmount Springs, PA, graduated summa cum laude from Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA. She completed a B.S. degree in Psychology in 2015. During her undergraduate years, she was a member of the Lycoming College Scholars Program, played the flute in many musical ensembles, taught tap dance classes, and interned for a family-based mental health service. Rachel completed an individual research project that focused on finding associations between dopamine degradation and personality traits. She also volunteered at Camp Victory, a camp for children and adults with special needs, in the summers. Her interest in genetic counseling comes from a history of Osler-Weber-Rendu Syndrome in her family. After job-shadowing her family’s genetic counselor, she continued to observe genetic counselors in other specialties and loved the variety of cases that they saw each day. She is excited to be a student in the Genetic Counseling Training Program and is grateful for all of the opportunities that the University of Maryland, Baltimore and the city of Baltimore have to offer! In her free time, Rachel enjoys playing her flute semi-professionally and attending Zumba classes.


Patrick Semesky

Born and raised in Lutherville, MD, Patrick received his B.S. in Biology and his B.A. in History at The University of Virginia. After four years of explaining to people in Charlottesville that Baltimore is not “just like ‘The Wire,’” he returned home to work as a patient service coordinator in the Department of Otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. Working alongside audiologists, otologists, and speech-language pathologists, he built a connection with the deaf and hard of hearing community and aided in research focused upon quality of life for older patients and emergent reading and communication skills for younger patients receiving cochlear implants. He was introduced to genetic counseling by his high school biology teacher, and as an employee in a medical center he was able to do some invaluable shadowing. Seeing counselors in action confirmed his passion to become a member of the field. Before applying to the UMD MGC program, he joined Crisis Text Line, a text based crisis intervention service tailored toward adolescents. He has enjoyed CTL as a platform to make a difference in the lives of at-risk youth. In his free time, he enjoys playing music, sports, cooking breakfast, and quoting movies excessively. He is thrilled to be a part of the program and is looking forward to building the skills to become an effective counselor.


Kelsey Stauff

Kelsey graduated from the University of Maryland in College Park, MD in May 2010. She graduated with a B.S. in Biology and in Secondary Education. During college, she was a part of the College Park Scholars Earth, Life, and Time program, a leader in the Alternative Spring Breaks program, and a sexual and domestic assault peer advocate. After college, she started teaching high school biology in southern Maryland as well as coaching soccer, basketball, and track. Kelsey also has volunteered as an adult mentor to youth in Southern Maryland for the past four years. Kelsey enjoyed sharing science with teenagers each day but after a few years, she felt that her heart was leading her into the medical world to find her true passion. She began to research genetic counseling and shadow counselors after narrowing down her interests. She is excited to join the UMB MGC program and become a student again. In her spare time, Kelsey enjoys writing poetry, going to country concerts, exploring new places, and being active in any form (but especially running and playing basketball)!


Katie Steike

Originally from a small town called Carmel in upstate New York, Katie graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in molecular genetics, a minor in music, and a cluster in psychology from the University of Rochester. Although she’ll miss the snowball fights and skiing, Katie is thrilled to be settling into the warmer weather and exciting culture of Baltimore. While an undergraduate, Katie was a teaching assistant for several chemistry courses at the University of Rochester, tutored students in biology and chemistry, and was an academic coach/peer counselor for students with intellectual disabilities who were auditing classes at the university. Katie found out about genetic counseling the summer before her senior year and immediately knew that it was for her. She shadowed the genetic counselors at her university that fall and fell in love with the profession. Katie is excited to begin her career as a genetic counselor and couldn’t be happier to be attending the University of Maryland for her studies. In her free time, Katie enjoys skiing, hiking, rock climbing, juggling, and cooking, and looks forward to exploring more of Baltimore.


Julianne Whitleigh

Julianne graduated cum laude from Franklin and Marshall College in 2013 with a BA in Biology and minor in Religious Studies. During her four years at F&M, Julianne played on the college’s softball team, pursuing her lifelong passion to play competitively without sacrificing a top-notch education. Julianne was also a Gray Scholar, affording her opportunities to serve the community of Lancaster, PA, while navigating college with other students traditionally under-represented in higher education. Julianne was chosen to serve as a research assistant in the Hackman Scholars program, a position from which her work on synthesizing, purifying, and characterizing thiophene derivatives was published. After graduation, Julianne began volunteering working with women facing crisis pregnancies. Her counseling work with these women, along with her work in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program, helped her realize the value of truly addressing clients’ needs; combined with her love for human biology, Julianne found her perfect career in genetic counseling. From the beautiful Jersey Shore, Julianne is excited to move to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and begin her studies in the genetic counseling program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.