Could you tell us a little bit about your educational background?
I discovered my passion for science at a young age. After graduating high school with honors, I moved to Northern California to study biology at Sonoma State University (SSU). Some of my favorite classes at SSU were human anatomy, molecular genetics, and biology of aging. I enjoyed learning about the underlying genetic basis of human disease and was fascinated with the intricacies of the human body. These classes inspired me to become a human anatomy teaching assistant and an undergraduate student researcher. In May 2016, I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and took time off after graduation to prepare for graduate school.
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?
At a young age, I learned that my cousin was diagnosed with a rare metabolic genetic disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU). Her diagnosis with PKU inspired me to become involved in the metabolic disorder community and sparked my interest in the health care field. I first learned about genetic counseling in my molecular genetics class during my senior year of college. I found that this profession combined my interests in learning about genetic conditions and supporting people through difficult medical decisions. Shortly after graduation, I received a genetic counseling internship opportunity at the University of Southern California (USC) Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. This internship allowed me to shadow practicing genetic counselors, consent patients into a cancer research study, and participate in data entry. Each week, I observed the meaningful relationships and interactions that genetic counselors have with their medical team and patients. My observations and conversations at USC confirmed that this was the right career choice for me. I already feel so passionate about this field and I am looking forward to the opportunities ahead!
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?
After interviewing a genetic counselor about the profession during my senior year of college, I decided to change my original career plans and pursue a degree in genetic counseling. I found that it was challenging to complete additional prerequisites, find a genetic counseling internship, and study for the GRE all before the upcoming application cycle. The first time I applied for programs, I did not get accepted! I learned that the goal to overcoming this obstacle was to remain focused and not give up, be patient, and enjoy the process- it was so worth it in the end!
Once you decided to pursue a Genetic Counseling degree, how did you know that KGI was the right school for you?
When meeting the faculty and staff at the KGI Genetic Counseling Visitation Day, I felt like I was part of the KGI family. The genuine care that they provide to students means so much to me and I feel that KGI’s mission supports my values, beliefs, and learning goals. I will never forget President Schuster explaining how KGI is dedicated to student success, and how excited the staff is to be part of student life and development. Most importantly, I am excited to be part of a program that is located in Southern California and close to my hometown. It will be extremely rewarding to have my support system (family, friends, and of course my dog) nearby as I tackle the challenges that graduate school may bring.
What are you most looking forward to about beginning your Genetic Counseling studies at KGI?
I am very excited to start this new journey of my life. I am looking forward to being part of the inaugural genetic counseling program, networking with classmates and faculty members, and participating in rotations in various settings to discover what specialty I am most passionate about. Finally, I am happy to be part of a team-based learning environment that is dedicated to advancing patient care and supporting people through complex medical challenges.
What is one fun and interesting fact about you?
A fun and interesting fact about me is that I love to sing. Ever since I was in the third grade, I have participated in choirs, talent shows, and community musicals. I used to be shy when I was younger and performing has helped me to step out of my comfort zone, as well as, develop an appreciation for music.