The University of Maryland Genetic Counseling students want to share with you a short video of what it means to become a Genetic Counselor.
Class of 2022
Austin is originally from Connecticut but migrated north to upstate New York to complete her undergraduate degree in Biology, with a minor in Geology, at Colgate University. At Colgate, Austin conducted research on how circadian rhythms and the Per3 gene impact human athletic performance. After graduating from Colgate University in 2017, Austin worked in both academic and industry research on human decision making, motion sickness, and delayed sleep-wake phase disorder. During her research she was introduced to genetic counseling and became passionate about pursuing a career in the field after speaking with and shadowing counselors in the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University Hospital and Children’s National. Austin volunteered in the NICU at the George Washington Hospital in Washington, D.C. and provided crisis support through an online service called 7 Cups of Tea. Outside of work and school, Austin enjoys staying active, playing card games, eating ice cream, and spending time with friends and family. Austin is excited to be joining the MGC program at the University of Maryland and is looking forward to exploring the Maryland area!
Raised in Pennsylvania, Amanda graduated from Lehigh University with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology. Before entering college freshman year, she discovered the field of genetic counseling and immediately was drawn to the profession. The vast impact of the genome on human development fascinated her since high school, and she was attracted to the diverse and dynamic facets of patient care involved with this profession. During her undergraduate years, Amanda began to explore the field of genetics, working in two different research labs. Her junior year, she participated in the BDSI research program at Lehigh where she completed wet lab and biochemistry lab work on the genes lynx1 and lynx2. Amanda also was a research assistant at Penn State Hershey Medical's Cancer Center. Here, she examined the association between dietary patterns and biomarkers linked to cancers in premenopausal women at high risk for breast cancer. In her free time at Lehigh University, Amanda was co-captain and starter for Lehigh’s Division I field hockey program, president and founder of a mental health organization called Active Minds, and a crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line. Amanda loves to work out, kayak and hike, and spend time with family and friends. She is very excited to continue her journey of becoming a genetic counselor as a student at the University of Maryland and looks forward to exploring the city of Baltimore!
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Hannah graduated from Duquesne University in 2020 with a B.S. in Biology with a concentration in molecular biology and a minor in psychology. While at Duquesne, Hannah was very involved with Strong Women Strong Girls, an organization where college women mentor elementary age girls in the city of Pittsburgh, as well as serving as a hotline volunteer for Crisis Center North, an organization providing resources to victims of domestic violence. She also performed research at Duquesne, studying the molecular evolution of male reproductive proteins in primate species and culminating in her writing and presenting an undergraduate honors thesis. She also gained valuable exposure to the field of genetic counseling through shadowing various genetic counselors in the UPMC and Allegheny Health Network healthcare systems in Pittsburgh. All of these experiences served to further her passion for genetic counseling and desire to pursue a career in the field. In her free time, Hannah enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and family, and exploring outdoors. She is absolutely thrilled to move to Baltimore and begin her genetic counseling career at the University of Maryland!
Born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, Michelle earned her undergraduate degree in Human Services from the University of Delaware. During her undergraduate career, she gained valuable experience supporting children and families through internships at the Delaware Office of the Child Advocate, as well as an Early Head Start center. Following graduation, Michelle moved to Baltimore to pursue her Master's in Social Work at the University of Maryland. During her time as a clinical social worker, she has had the privilege of working with individuals and families in a variety of clinical and community settings. In her most recent position, Michelle has spent the last several years providing education to and supporting grieving families through end-of-life decision making regarding the organ and tissue donation process. Michelle's exposure to medical social work combined with her family's own health experiences led to her introduction to and passion for pursuing a career in genetic counseling. She hopes to integrate her skills and knowledge related to advocacy, mental health, and grief in her practice as a future genetic counselor. In her free time, Michelle enjoys exploring the city, spending time outdoors, and visiting family and friends. She is thrilled to be able to continue her education in Baltimore and to join the MGC program class of 2022.
Raised in Linwood, NJ, Sydney graduated from Florida State University in 2019 with a B.S. in Exercise Physiology and minors in Chemistry, Child Development, and Biology. Her undergraduate years were spent advocating and fundraising for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital through Delta Delta Delta membership and ALSAC internships, working as a Peer Mentor for the University Honors Program, and volunteering in a research lab studying myogenic tone in pressurized cerebral arteries. She explored several different career paths in the healthcare field before discovering genetic counseling, which combined her passion for genetics and research with helping others. After graduating, Sydney moved back home to NJ and worked as an Outpatient Services Representative at Shore Cancer Center, where she had the opportunity to gain invaluable experience in patient care and work as a team alongside various medical professionals. While working, Sydney also volunteered for Crisis Text Line as a Crisis Counselor and shadowed genetic counselors in cancer and metabolic genetics. During her free time, Sydney enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to the beach, and traveling. She is very excited to be joining the MGC Program at the University of Maryland and is looking forward to exploring all of the exciting things Baltimore has to offer.
Sadie is from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She attended the University of Richmond where she graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2020 with a B.S. in Biology and minors in Psychology and Healthcare Studies. During her undergraduate years she served as president of her sorority, president of Trick or Treat Street – a philanthropy event to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond, and was a Crisis Text Line Counselor. Over the summers between her course years she, successively, shadowed a genetic counselor specializing in oncology, had an internship with that genetic counselor, and had an internship with the division of Genetics, Birth Defects, and Metabolism at the Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Through these opportunities she was able to observe over 12 different types of clinics and gain a deeper understanding of what a genetic counselor does. These experiences showed her how important genetic counseling is to the well-being of patients and their families and cemented her interest in the field. Sadie is elated to be attending the MGC program at the University of Maryland to learn how to serve as this critical resource for patients with genetic conditions.
Emily was born and raised in Oswego, Illinois. She graduated summa cum laude from Miami University in 2020 with a B.A. in Biology and minors in Bioinformatics and Comparative Religion. While at Miami, she researched the impact of fmr1 knockdowns on aggressive behavior in the house cricket. She also served as an ambassador for the University Honors Program and as President of the Genetics Club. Her desire to support women and families led her to volunteer at Oxford Women’s Care Center, coordinating donations that aid low-income community members in providing for their young children. Emily also worked with the organization Opening Minds through Art, which encourages people with dementia to express themselves through abstract art. Shadowing genetic counselors and volunteering as a crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line solidified her passion for the field of genetic counseling. Outside of genetic counseling, Emily loves hiking, baseball (Go Cubs!), and musical theater. She is excited to explore Baltimore and join the Genetic Counseling Training Program at the University of Maryland!
Class of 2023
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Darwin graduated from the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) in 2020 and earned a B.S. in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Microbiology. As an undergraduate, Darwin worked as a Research Leader with the Texas Workforce Commission, as a Natural Science Tutor, and as a Supplemental Instruction Leader with the Supplemental Instruction Program at UHD. Darwin learned about genetic counseling amid his undergraduate career and was immediately taken. Accordingly, he began to shadow genetic counselors throughout Houston’s medical center and developed a strong interest for the field. Towards the end of his undergraduate career, Darwin volunteered as a Warmline Operator at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Greater Houston, an organization dedicated to helping those in need of mental health resources. Following graduation, Darwin traveled to Egypt and worked as a Program Coordinator for a private school in Sohag and as an Admission Specialist for an international school in Cairo. Consequently, Darwin’s prior experiences, enthusiasm for learning about the field of genetics, and shadowing genetic counselors have confirmed his desire of becoming a genetic counselor. Darwin’s favorite pastimes include playing soccer, spending time with family, reading, and watching movies. Darwin is eager to start his new academic endeavor with the University of Maryland Baltimore Genetic Counseling Program and being part of the Class of 2023!
Originally from Hanover, Pennsylvania, Adrienne attended Washington College located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She graduated in 2020 with her B.S. in Biology along with minors in Psychology and Chemistry. During her undergraduate career, she worked as a Peer Mentor and gained cancer research experience through a summer internship at the University of California, San Francisco. Her interests in cancer and fertility were integrated into her Senior Capstone Experience, in which she investigated the chemotherapeutic effects on fertility in men and women. Adrienne has been passionate about pursuing genetic counseling since first discovering the career in high school. She has since then gained experience in the field while working as a genetic counseling assistant at GeneDx. Adrienne loves her golden retriever, traveling, spending time with friends and family, and trying new restaurants in Baltimore. She is thrilled to be continuing on the path to becoming a genetic counselor at the University of Maryland!
Cecelia Denne was born and raised in Columbia, Maryland. She graduated December 2020 from the University of Maryland (Go Terps!) with a degree in Biological Sciences. During her first year, she participated in the BioFIRE program, which allowed her to delve into research of neurodegenerative diseases. She was specifically involved in determining treatment methods of Parkinson’s disease using non-invasive electromagnetic stimulation. In addition, Cecelia was also actively involved in UMD’s community, acting as a Resident Assistant, Orientation Advisor, Peer Mentor, and many other roles. From these opportunities, Cecelia discovered her innate love for supporting others as well as that for genetics. When determining what career she wanted to pursue, it felt almost fated that she discovered the field of genetic counseling. With now a goal to fuel her passion, Cecelia continued her journey to help others by becoming a Crisis Counselor for Crisis Text Line and working jobs to ease the transition for students returning to college during the COVID-19 pandemic. In her free time, she enjoys scary movies, mystery novels, and oil painting. Since graduating, she has been working full-time as a Genetic Counseling Assistant at GeneDx. Cecelia is immensely excited to be joining the MGC Program at the University of Maryland in her favorite city of Baltimore.
Cati Gurri grew up mostly in the DC suburbs of Northern Virginia before attending the College of William and Mary. While attending, she participated in viral ecology research investigating particle associated bacteriophage in storm water retention ponds and began her interest in accessibility and advocacy as a member of the student accessibility services student advisory board. After graduating in 2018, Cati moved to Richmond, Virginia, to begin working for Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD) as an Assistant Scientist. While at this position, she participated in several vaccine development projects, and learned a great deal about private pharmaceutical industry. Cati has had an obsessive interest in genetics from a young age, and after discovering genetic counseling in her final semester at William and Mary, she felt certain she found the career field she was meant for. Because of this she left PPD to pursue the graduate program at UMB. During that process, she had the incredible opportunity to help her community throughout the global pandemic through the Richmond Mutual Aid Disaster Relief Hotline, by coordinating food and supplies to those in desperate need in the Richmond area. Additionally, she was a Crisis Counselor at the Crisis Text line, and a Visiting Volunteer for Family Lifeline. Cati also has a passion for music, being a trained singer and playing several instruments. She is extremely excited to become a member of the UMB MGC family and see what Baltimore has to offer!
Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, Emily graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biobehavioral Health and a minor in Psychology in the spring of 2017. Over those four years, she was a research assistant as well as a volunteer at the local hospital and a crisis hotline counselor. With a passion for patient-centered care and an interest in genetics, Emily was introduced to the field of genetic counseling through her school advisor. Following undergraduate studies, Emily took some time to strengthen her skills and knowledge — she first worked as a Mental Health Care Coordinator for a Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program, then transitioned to a Genetic Counselor Assistant position at Johns Hopkins Center for Inherited Heart Diseases. After already living in Baltimore for four years, Emily was thrilled to learn she would not have to leave any time soon! In her spare time, Emily enjoys working out, cooking, spending time with her dog, and trying new things.
Originally from outside of Philadelphia, Ali graduated with honors from The Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Biobehavioral Health and a minor in Rehabilitation and Human Services. Throughout her time at Penn State, Ali volunteered for a Crisis Hotline, was an instructor for the Youthful Offenders Program, mentored students with mental disabilities, and was an active volunteer and participant in Penn State’s THON. After a high school teacher recommended genetic counseling, Ali researched the career and connected with how the field combined education, medicine, and counseling. After shadowing a pediatric genetic counselor, Ali’s passion for genetic counseling was solidified. In her free time, Ali enjoys playing tennis, drawing and painting, and spending time with family and friends. She is beyond excited to be a part of the University of Maryland Genetic Counseling Class of 2023!
Sara was born in Massachusetts and grew up mainly in Wisconsin, where she attended college at Mount Mary University and received dual undergraduate degrees in psychology and biology. During her undergraduate years, she did cognitive psychology research, seeking to understand the impact of STEM anxiety on cognitive performance in women and underrepresented groups. She also worked in a neuropharmacology lab at the Medical College of WI, studying the endocannabinoid system and its contribution to pain regulation. Sara was part of a scholarship program that emphasized service learning and had many volunteer roles, including in a special education classroom, local free clinic, and the children’s hospital. She was the president of Mount Mary’s Active Minds chapter, where they engaged in advocacy to reduce issues of mental health stigma on campus and promote student access to resources. Sara gained additional insights into the mental health care system by working as a residential counselor and intake coordinator and a behavioral health hospital. Working at a day camp for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities also gave her insights into the unique needs of those populations. After graduating from Mount Mary, Sara worked at the National Institutes of Health conducting positron emission tomography (PET) neuroimaging research to identify biomarkers and therapeutics for neuropsychiatric diseases. At NIH, her interest in science and research deepened, but she also recognized that she missed the more hands-on patient care type experiences that she’d had. After learning about the genetic counseling career path, Sara identified it as one that could help her maximize all of her diverse skills and passions including mental health, research, science communication, and public health. In her free time, Sara enjoys listening to science and philosophy podcasts and spending time hiking, practicing her ASL skills, and writing poetry.