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Students

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 2020

Class of 2020

Emily Callahan

Emily Callahan

Emily was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA before attending The Ohio State University for her undergraduate degree where she studied neuroscience with a specialization in biological systems and behavioral neuroscience. While at Ohio State Emily was involved with the undergraduate genetic counseling club, volunteered for the Crisis Text Line as a Crisis Counselor, and was a student ambassador for the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation and the Ohio State Neuroscience Department.  She gained valuable experience and exposure to genetic counseling by working as a student research assistant in the OSU Wexner Medical Center Division of Human Genetics with the cardiovascular genetic counselors. Her two years in this role solidified that genetic counseling was the ideal career for her.  While there she was responsible for patient pedigrees, and aided in various research projects exploring the genetics of heart disease. In her spare time, Emily enjoys spending time with her dog, and all dogs. Additionally, she has a great appreciation for the outdoors, as she enjoys running and grew up competitively skiing. Emily is thrilled to explore a new city and lots of new food, and to join the Class of 2020 at the University of Maryland.

Allison Costa

Allison Costa

Allison earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Rhode Island in 2015 with a double major in Biology and Health Sciences. After graduating, she moved back home to Long Island, New York, to work as a Sales Representative for a biotech company. In this job she had the opportunity to travel the country to speak with researchers and attend conferences. Along with being a Sales Rep, Allison spent her weekends as a volunteer Crisis Counselor, helping victims of sexual assault and domestic violence seek treatment for their injuries and receive the counseling they needed. Her experiences speaking with researchers in the genetic field and her volunteer work sparked her interests to pursue a genetic counseling career. Allison also shadowed a prenatal genetic counselor, which further solidified her interests. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, running, and trying new restaurants. She is very excited for the opportunity to join the Genetic Counseling Training Program at the University of Maryland and calling Baltimore her home for the next two years.

Lucy Drayson

Lucy Drayson

Originally from London, England, Lucy earned her undergraduate degree at Connecticut College in 2015 with a double major in Biology and Psychology. Lucy moved to Washington, D.C., to work in a neuroscience research lab at Children’s National Medical Center, studying the developing visual system in mice. During her time working at Children’s she shadowed prenatal and pediatric genetic counselors, where she discovered her passion for genetic counseling. Outside the lab, Lucy volunteered for Whitman Walker Health, where she ran HIV tests and provided results and support for patients at events around D.C. She also volunteered at the HSC Pediatric Center, where she comforted infants and provided companionship to inpatients. Her experiences with genetic counselors and her volunteer work solidified her interest in pursuing a genetic counseling career. In her free time, Lucy enjoys cooking, baking bread, and visiting National Parks, and is excited to join the MGC Program at the University of Maryland.

Katherine Drum

Katherine Drum

A Florida native, Katie graduated with honors from the University of Florida in 2015 with a B.S. in Zoology and a minor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. She explored several different career paths ranging from dolphin training to conservation policy before discovering genetic counseling, which combined her passion for education and meaningful interactions with the fascinating field of genetics. After shadowing genetic counselors in a variety of specialties, Katie became certain that it was the right career for her. She also gained valuable experience volunteering with the Women’s Center of Jacksonville on their Rape Recovery Team, where she helped provide both hotline and in-person crisis intervention and support services. In her free time, Katie enjoys going to the beach, playing the piano, taking naps, and spending time with family and friends. Baltimore is definitely a change from her Florida roots, but she is thrilled to join the Genetic Counseling Training Program at the University of Maryland!

Colleen Jodarski

Colleen Jodarski

Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Colleen graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2015 with a B.S. in Genetics, Cell Biology and Development and a minor in Psychology. During her time at the U of M, she was a teaching assistant for an introductory biology course where she enjoyed the challenge of teaching scientific concepts to students from a wide variety of backgrounds. After graduation, Colleen worked as a scribe in an Emergency Room, where she gained valuable insight about the healthcare system. It was during this time that she discovered her desire to educate patients and provide them with psychosocial care. Colleen found that genetic counseling was a career field that merged these passions with her strong interest in genetics. She moved to Washington, D.C. in 2017 to begin a Postbaccalaureate research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. While at the NIH, Colleen studied the efficacy of a new diabetic nephropathy treatment in mouse and cellular models with the aim of including the drug in future clinical trials. She enjoyed the many learning opportunities afforded by the NIH, including the ability to see patients with genetic counselors, which further solidified her passion for the field. Colleen also volunteered as a crisis counselor for the organization Crisis Text Line. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading at coffee shops, baking, and spending time with friends. Colleen is thrilled to be a part of the MGC program at the University of Maryland and to have the chance to explore another city in the Mid-Atlantic.

 

Michael Kamen

Michael Kamen

Originally from Long Island, New York, Mike graduated with a BA in Psychology and History from Stony Brook University. As an undergraduate student, he volunteered for several years as a counselor at Response Crisis Center. After graduation, Mike helped strengthen communities and develop leaders through two terms of service with AmeriCorps NCCC. He then moved to Washington, DC and worked with Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges to support active duty Service members pursuing higher education degrees. After learning about the profession of genetic counseling and its purpose of providing individualized care for patients and their families, Mike became interested in pursuing this as a career. He prepared by taking night and weekend chemistry and biology classes at the University of District of Columbia (UDC). He also worked part-time in a chemistry lab at UDC creating a compound that filters heavy metals from contaminated water. Mike is excited to continue his journey to becoming a Genetic Counselor at the University of Maryland Baltimore.

Emma Moores

Emma Moores

Emma graduated with honors from Truman State University in May 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, and a minor in French. Her undergraduate years were spent working with the Women's Resource Center on campus, reading existentialist French literature, volunteering at the local hospital to assist in patient satisfaction levels, and performing PCR analysis to help determine the prevalence of the Chytrid fungus in North America. From there, after a brief stint in Georgia, she moved overseas to northern Italy, where she explored as many countries as possible, learned a little restaurant Italian, and spent her time working as an education counselor with the active-duty service member population, helping them to work towards their goals. While this time was incredibly fulfilling, it helped to define exactly what she felt was missing: the challenge and fascination of the sciences she had so loved in her undergraduate years. She also mentored local incoming spouses to help them have a successful start in a foreign country, and underwent CARE Team training, to assist those same families in the case of a service member's death or injury during a training rotation. In her free time, she enjoys reading dystopian fiction, hand-quilting, spending time with her family, leisurely hikes in new places, and teaching her old dog new tricks. A Midwest girl at heart- and despite the lack of hometown BBQ - she is thrilled to be able to explore the East Coast and to join the class of 2020.

Class of 2021

Class of 2021

Victoria Ballard

Victoria Ballard

Victoria was born in Northern California but raised in Southern Illinois. She completed her undergraduate degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and Preprofessional Health at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville Tennessee. During her undergrad she worked as a teacher’s assistant at the university’s Child Learning Center where she gained firsthand experience about early childhood development and a passion for working with children. During this time, she also volunteered at the local Crisis Call Line, partook in undergraduate research working on breast cancer cells, and shadowed a prenatal genetic counselor. Her love for genetics together with her shadowing experience convinced her that this was the career that she wanted to pursue. Her pastimes include reading, binging her favorite tv shows, and many out door activities. Her favorite ways of staying active include weight lifting and aerial silks. Victoria is eager to continue her education at the University of Maryland and have the chance to get to know the city of Baltimore.

Colin Bixler

Colin Bixler

Raised in Connecticut, Colin graduated from the University of Connecticut with a B.S. in Molecular and Cell Biology and a minor in Psychology. While at UConn he performed research on the loss of heterozygosity event in cancer cell lines using Crispr technology. In addition to his research he also volunteered for a mental health advocacy group called Active Minds, through which he educated incoming students about the stigma against mental health and provided information to students looking for help. Upon graduating he managed a rentals department for a ski resort and then worked as an engineering technician at a manufacturing company.  While he was working Colin also volunteered at Crisis Text Line where he provided hotline support and gained valuable counseling experience. Through all of these experiences in addition to shadowing various health professionals Colin discovered his passion for genetic counseling. In his free time Colin likes to work out, watch Batman movies, and fix cars. He is very excited to be moving to Baltimore and joining the MGC program at the University of Maryland.

Madeline Dyke

Madeline Dyke

Raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Madeline graduated with honors from North Carolina State University in 2019 with a B.S. in Microbiology and minors in Genetics and Spanish. During her time at NCSU, she served as a student ambassador, class assistant, and tutor for incoming and fellow peers.  She also worked on a research project at the Genetic Engineering and Society Center which focused on conservation of island biodiversity through the genetic modification of an invasive rodent species. Upon learning about genetic counseling, she was immediately taken by how it encompassed both aspects she had been enjoying so much since arriving at NCSU, genetics and human relations. She served as an intern in reproductive genetics at the University of North Carolina where she had the opportunity to shadow sessions, assist with administrative tasks, and work to update a Positive Predictive Value calculator used by the clinic.  This experience ultimately solidified her desire to become a genetic counselor. In an effort to focus on her passion for Spanish language and culture, as well as gain experience in crisis counseling, she chose to serve at an orphanage for several months in Costa Rica. She continues to be involved with this orphanage and goes down to visit as often as possible! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, and working out. Madeline is incredibly excited to be a part of the Genetic Counseling Training Program and looks forward to exploring Baltimore!

Gila Fridkis

Gila Fridkis

A Maryland native, Gila graduated from Syracuse University in 2019 with a B.A. in Biology and Ethics and a minor in Psychology. During her time at Syracuse, Gila expanded her interest in genetics during an epigenetics seminar and joining a lab focused on understanding the epigenetic mechanisms of Rett Syndrome. Before pursuing her undergraduate degree, she spent a year living in Israel where she studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and worked as an English teacher and electrician on a religious youth village in Haifa. Gila furthered her passion to work as a genetic counselor when she interned at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the High-Risk OB/GYN department with the prenatal genetic counselors. During her time at JHH, she worked on a literature review of the genetic etiologies of renal agenesis with doctors and surgeons. Gila has been working as a Crisis Counselor for Crisis Text Line for the past year while also working with Jewish youth groups in Syracuse and across North America. During her free time, Gila enjoys traveling, watching sports, and skiing. She is very excited to return home to Baltimore and be a part of the Genetic Counseling Training Program at the University of Maryland.

Natalie Ginn

Natalie Ginn

A true Delawarean, Natalie graduated with honors from the University of Delaware in 2019 with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. During her undergraduate career, she worked in a behavioral neuroscience lab investigating fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and volunteered as a victim advocate for UD’s Sexual Offense Support crisis hotline. She also gained valuable insight volunteering at an equine-assisted therapy program for children with disabilities. After exploring countless medical and counseling professions, Natalie stumbled upon the field of genetic counseling late in her Sophomore year. Immediately, she was captivated by this unique, multidisciplinary career. Her genetic counseling internship at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center in Newark, Delaware solidified her decision to become a genetic counselor and inspired her to establish UD’s first genetic counseling student interest group on campus. In her free time, Natalie enjoys exploring national parks, hiking, cooking and calligraphy. She is thrilled for this opportunity to move to Baltimore and begin her career in genetics at the University of Maryland.

Luana Goulet

Luana Goulet

Originally from central Pennsylvania, Luana graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor of science in Biobehavioral Health in the spring of 2018. Over those four years, she was a biology tutor, a neuroanatomy teaching assistant, and a molecular genetics research assistant. These activities peaked her interest in genetics, making complicated information accessible, and contributing to the future of health care. All of these interests, in addition to some research on career satisfaction statistics, brought her to the field of genetic counseling. This career path was pursued by taking a gap year as a genetic counseling assistant at Geisinger Health System. Here, Luana was able to shadow genetic counselors in areas such as cancer, pediatrics, prenatal, and cardiovascular, all while learning about patient care and the inner workings of the health care system. In her free time, Luana explores other subjects such as painting, hiking, traveling, eating and trying new things. She is absolutely thrilled to be joining the University of Maryland Genetic Counseling Class of 2021! 

Lorin Porth

Lorin Porth

Originally from East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Lorin graduated summa cum laude in December 2018 from Bay Path University with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. Lorin was a devoted member of Bay Path University and the local community with various leadership roles, including being the Leader of STEM Outreach for the Women in STEM Honors Program; being a Student Learning Assistant for Organic Chemistry; and being President of the Bay Path Buddies Club. Lorin wanted to find a career that blended her passion for genetics and helping others around her. When she found the field of genetic counseling, she shadowed a prenatal genetic counselor which confirmed that genetic counseling was how she wanted to help people in the community. She volunteers as a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line and was a long-term paraprofessional substitute where she supported elementary students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In her free time, Lorin enjoys doing yoga, trying new coffee, watching baseball, and spending time with family and friends. She is excited to be part of the MGC Class of 2021 and explore the city of Baltimore.

Nikhila Ramesh

Nikhila Ramesh

Nikhila was raised in many places across India. She discovered genetic counseling in high school and after a few internships and informational interviews with genetic counselors from various countries, she realized that she had found the perfect profession for herself. She graduated from the University of Madras with a bachelor's degree in Advanced Zoology and Biotechnology and earned a medal for her merit in biotechnology and microbiology. She was the president of the Social Work Club and also volunteered as scribe and a teacher. She went on to obtain a Master's degree in Biomedical Genetics from Vellore Institute of Technology, India. During her time at VIT, she was a volunteer teacher, a member of the Music Club, and worked in labs studying anticancer activity, and DNA instability. Nikhila spent her gap year working as a genetic counseling coordinator for a non-profit genetic testing laboratory and spent her spare time volunteering at a women's shelter. She saw first hand the way genetic counseling empowered patients by providing information and support and realized the need for greater awareness and accessibility to genetic counseling. She also learned about the importance of being domestic violence-informed, especially in a healthcare setting.  Nikhila is delighted to join this field and explore ways in which she can contribute to its growth and diversity. In her spare time, she enjoys singing, traveling, volunteering, and reading.