Could you tell us a little bit about your educational background?
I graduated from Westmont College with a BS in Cellular and Molecular Biology. During undergrad, I had the opportunity to study global health and epidemiology for a semester in Uganda, and I credit my professors there and in Westmont’s Biology department for instilling in me a curiosity and engagement in personalized healthcare and genetics.
What first got you interested in the healthcare field as a career choice? There are a lot of career options in the field -nursing, physician assistant, etc., what made you decide that genetic counseling was the right practice area/career choice for you?
I’d heard about genetic counseling in my sophomore genetics class, and somehow knew then that it sounded right for me, but I ignored it for a while. I probably could have arrived at the career decision of genetic counseling sooner, but I’m glad I took a little bit more time to learn, heal, and grow. That created room for me to get involved with education and advocacy for urban issues, learn about the community and global health, and spend a few years working with patients in clinical ophthalmology settings. These experiences showed me that I love working one on one with patients, but I was still interested in how various health care systems and technologies can collaborate to serve the individual and the community, as well as the ways that these systems have failed to serve certain people groups. I want to become a genetic counselor so that I can stay engaged with cutting-edge genetic research while having meaningful, compassionate interactions with individuals and their families as I help them navigate complex medical information and difficult decisions.
What type of obstacles have you had to overcome on the road to getting your education and in particular in pursuing your Genetic Counseling degree?
I made a somewhat sudden decision to apply to genetic counseling programs, so I had a bit of catching up to do. I was working full-time as an ophthalmic technician, and I had to fit in extra coursework and application preparation during my nights and weekends. With the increased stress that came with being a healthcare worker during COVID, as well as the relational difficulties that quarantine brought to my living situation, my mental health and self-confidence began to suffer greatly. I believe that has been the tallest obstacle for me as I pursued my genetic counseling degree, but has also shown me how to reach into my deep wells of inner strength, resilience, and perseverance, and motivates me to bring these skills into my practice as a genetic counselor.
What are you most looking forward to about beginning your Genetic Counseling studies?
I am most looking forward to creating relationships with my cohort, since these will be the colleagues I lean on and learn from throughout my career. I am also excited to find my voice in this profession as I learn how to give my future patients a voice in their own healthcare decisions.
What is one fun and interesting fact about you?
I learned to play the flute in elementary school, and I’ll still bring it out to play Christmas carols or the Game of Thrones theme song.