Could you tell us a little bit about your educational background?
I have always had a love of science and so when it came time for higher education, I decided to study Biology. I started my degree at York University in Toronto and transferred to Mount Saint Mary’s University when I moved to Los Angeles. I completed a Bachelors of Science in Biology in 2015. As part of my studies, I was privileged to be involved in cancer research. I studied the effects of local air pollutants on cell mutation rates. I also interned at a rehabilitation treatment center providing educational support and mentorship to adolescent patients. After I completed my undergraduate degree I pursued a career in teaching. I taught science for grades nine, ten, and eleven. In addition to my role as a teacher I mentored students providing social, emotional and academic support for students in conjunction with the school guidance department. I also started STEM co-curricular programs to enhance the learning experience of students.
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?
Growing up in Canada allowed my family to have access to subsidized quality medical care. My mother had a slew of medical issues in my childhood, resulting in the need for her to seek treatment from various doctors to maintain her health. My parents were both hard-working self-employed individuals but struggled to provide for their large family. Being able to access free medical care allowed us to survive and afford necessities. Providing medical care to all people, regardless of financial ability, is something that I felt passionate about. I decided I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field to help provide this care. After completing my degree I spent a long time looking for a career that would speak to all of my interests. Genetic counseling offers a unique fusion of genetic research immersion and patient advocacy that speaks to many of my interests. My skills and as an educator and interest in genetics makes this a field I want to pursue. I specifically would like to work in the prenatal area of genetic counselling, so that I can work to empower women during an often-stressful experience.
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?
Like many Americans I struggled to pay for my undergraduate education. After moving to the United States the cost of tuition had increased substantially. To compensate for the difference I had to work many more hours to be able to afford it. While this was a challenge, it ultimately gave me a richer life experience and a better handle on juggling responsibilities. It took me many years to make the decision to pursue a graduate degree. This was mainly due to the financial costs and personal responsibilities. I am currently raising two children and I was very cognizant of making sure that we were ready as a family for this big change. It was also due to the fact that I loved teaching High School students. It took six years until I felt like the timing was prime and I now am finally ready to pursue my dreams.
What are you most looking forward to about beginning your Genetic Counseling studies?
I am most looking forward to getting started in this field and developing relationships with my cohort and the faculty. I love learning and I am excited to delve into all of the courses being offered. I cannot wait to gain a deeper understanding of genetics, in particular embryology and development. I am also looking forward to all the new hands-on experiences, especially clinical rotations.
What is one fun and interesting fact about you?
I love to travel! There is something exhilarating about immersing yourself in different cultures and experiences. I have been to five continents: North America, Australia, Europe, Africa and Asia. I plan on seeing all seven continents at some point.