Could you tell us a little bit about your educational background?
I completed my BS in Genetics at UC Davis in 2015.
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?
When I first came across genetics in high school, I immediately fell in love with the subject specifically because of the fact that all humans, regardless of their background or which regions of the world they come from, are made up of the same genetic building blocks. I found this concept to be so inspiring because it meant that genetics is a field that has the potential to impact every single person in the world. This motivated me to ultimately to major in Genetics at UC Davis.
While pursuing my undergraduate degree at UC Davis, I learned a lot about the molecular biology side of genetics, and although I enjoyed it, I did not feel like I was learning as much about the clinical application, which was what I was most excited about. I had come across genetic counseling previously while researching the genetics space and decided that it would be a good time to find out more about what the career was. I reached out to local genetic counselors, and after observing a number of sessions, I could see that this was a career that would allow me to pursue my passion of making genetics more accessible; and therefore, impactful, to a larger population.
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?
My path to genetic counseling has not been very direct. The first two times that I applied to genetic counseling programs, I was waitlisted. Understandably, these were disappointing experiences, but looking back, I can see that I was a much stronger candidate this application cycle because of the previous rejections, which made it possible for me to spend the last four years working in different areas of biotech. From starting out as an intern in a sequencing lab, to developing DNA and protein based assays for point-of-care testing, and most recently working as a research associate at a genomics company where I assess the quality and limitations of genetic research, I consider myself lucky to have already been exposed to many different facets of the genetic testing industry. I am appreciative of these diverse experiences because they have allowed me to explore the genetic testing industry from the perspectives of genetic counselors, researchers, clinical laboratories, and non-science professionals as well.
Once you decided to pursue a Genetic Counseling degree, how did you know that KGI was the right school for you?
Prior to interviewing, KGI already stood out to me as being a unique program because of its emphasis on industry. Given my background in industry genetics, I knew that I wanted to further explore this area of the genetics field, in addition to developing and strengthening my clinical knowledge and skills, during my graduate education. I believe that with KGI’s ties to both industry and clinical genetic counselors, I will be able to create strong connections that will serve me well throughout my career as a genetic counselor.
I knew that KGI was the right school for me when I first visited for my interview. Not only was everyone affiliated with the program incredibly kind and accommodating, but I immediately felt valued as an applicant and an individual as I met with various faculty members throughout the day.
What are you most looking forward to about beginning your Genetic Counseling studies at KGI?
I am most looking forward to continuing my professional journey and taking this first step towards becoming a genetic counselor where I will have the opportunity to grow my clinical genetics knowledge, meet my new classmates and future colleagues, and explore the professional genetics field.
What is one fun and interesting fact about you?
I am a very active person and love to play sports. I grew up playing soccer and am always excited to try new activities. I am really looking forward to taking advantage of the southern California weather and spending as much time outside as possible!