Could you tell us a little bit about your educational background?
I received a BS in Biology at UC Santa Cruz, where I attended undergraduate school from 2011-2015. During my stay there I also studied abroad in Paris for one quarter, taking classes in French language and culture. I’ve also taken some Psychology courses at UCLA Extension to meet prerequisite requirements for the MSGC program. Finally, realizing the importance of learning another language, I enrolled in Spanish language courses at the Beverly Hills Lingual Institute.
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 interned at Amgen during my Junior and Senior summers of college. It was rewarding to know that all the work that I did contributed to the company’s mission statement: to serve patients. After hearing numerous patient testimonials and seeing how drastically advances in healthcare could change the lives of patients and their families, I knew that I wanted to dedicate my career to serving patients. I also knew that I wanted to experience patient interaction face-to-face; so instead of taking an offer to work at Amgen I chose a career path in cancer clinical research at Cedars-Sinai.
I knew nothing about cancer when I joined Cedars, but as I learned more I realized that genetics played a key role in our understanding of the disease. When I was on the breast cancer team I attended breast tumor boards weekly, and saw that genetic counselors were providing input on a regular basis. After speaking with my Principal Investigator, I was able to shadow a venerable genetic counselor at Cedars and found that the field was a perfect fit.
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?
Until relatively recently, I didn’t know that I wanted to pursue genetic counseling. By the time I set my eyes on the prize, I was months out from even being able to shadow John Lee, our lead genetic counselor at Cedars, and I was put on a wait list. I was only beginning to realize how high the demand was for opportunities to even pursue a career where the demand far exceeds the supply in programs and professionals. Eventually, I was able to join John in clinic, but that meant working long days since I was a full-time employee and had other obligations. Additionally, I had to take psychology courses at UCLA Extension while working full-time. Taking the GRE and filling out applications was a lot to achieve in a short amount of time in addition to long days shadowing and other coursework. Luckily, I got the applications in and I couldn’t be happier to join KGI.
Once you decided to pursue a Genetic Counseling degree, how did you know that KGI was the right school for you?
There are many reasons that KGI is the right fit for me, but here are three:
First, KGI has strong ties to the biotech industry and key partners—Amgen helped to fund the MSGC program, and I think that KGI’s dedication to industry partners provides potentially rich opportunities to go back to work for a company like Amgen, a great company with wonderful people and a fulfilling goal.
Secondly, the location of KGI is appealing to me because I envision my future in Southern California. I received advice from senior genetic counselors that forming and nurturing connections with local clinical rotation sites and labs is useful in the long run for a career. It also helps that I’m outdoorsy, and Claremont is nestled nicely one of my favorite mountain ranges to explore. Interestingly, it snowed the day of my interview! So yes, the location couldn’t be better.
Lastly, I think it’s a truly remarkable opportunity to be part of the inaugural class of the MSGC at KGI. In a way, we are pioneering a program that promises to be an integral part of the genetic counseling community, and I’m honored to have the ability to help shape its future.
What are you most looking forward to about beginning your Genetic Counseling studies at KGI?
Learning as much as I can and meeting all my fellow classmates.
What is one fun and interesting fact about you?
I’m a bit of an old soul when it comes to music. I enjoy playing piano, am learning cello, own a large vinyl collection, and attend classical music concerts and operas frequently.