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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 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.

Class of 2022

Class of 2022

Austin Anderson

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!

Amanda Boyer

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!

Michaela Gosting

Michaela graduated from Virginia Tech in the fall of 2019, where she majored in Human Development with a minor in Biology. She discovered genetic counseling in her freshman year of college and fell in love with the career after shadowing a cancer genetic counselor. She had further opportunities to shadow in prenatal and pediatric specialties as well, which she also loved. As an undergraduate, Michaela was involved in several activities that solidified her interest in the field of genetic counseling. She was a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta, a pre-health professions honor society, for three years, serving as Social Chair in her last year. She also contributed to research in the Kojima Laboratory at Virginia Tech, which sought to expand knowledge of the genetic underpinnings of mammalian circadian rhythm. Off campus, Michaela volunteered with a local crisis hotline and interned at New River Valley Community Services and in the social work department of Riverside PACE (Program for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly). Michaela spends her free time with friends and family, seeking out dogs to pet, and her favorite guilty pleasure - online shopping. She is thrilled to be a part of the MGC program at the University of Maryland!

Hannah Johnstonbaugh

Hannah Johnstonbaugh

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!

Michelle Raymond

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.

Sydney Roberts

Sydney Richards

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 Roulston

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 Wyatt

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!