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Our Richard R. Ferrante Friend of the Genetic Counseling Program Award, S. Robert Young Outstanding Genetic Counselor Award, School of Medicine Distinguished Alumni Award and Victoria A. Vincent Clinical Supervision Award help us recognize individuals who have made a significant impact on the field of genetic counseling and the USC Genetic Counseling Program.

Friend of the Genetic Counseling Program Award

Richard Ferrante, Ph.D.

Richard R. Ferrante, PhD

Richard R. Ferrante, PhD, former Director of Disability Resources for the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, was the first recipient of the Friend of the Genetic Counseling Program Award. In 1983, he urged the genetics faculty to develop the program and has served as primary faculty in the classroom and on thesis committees ever since. His stalwart support led us to name the award in his honor. 

Dr. Pai

G. Shashidar Pai, MD

Our 2018 Friend of the Program is Shashi Pai, MD, clinical geneticist with the Medical University of South Carolina for over 40 years. He shared our original vision to create a southeastern genetic counseling training program and served as our first medical director for many years. Pediatric genetic counselors can attest to his skill as a clinician, and every genetic counselor that has worked with him knows he has the highest respect for our profession. Dr. Pai currently serves on our Advisory Board where his experience and perspectives strengthen the Program and guide our growth into the future. Thank you Dr. Pai!

2017 Honoree

Courtney Truluck

Courtney Truluck and family were trailblazers, the very first family to undergo cancer genetic testing in Columbia over twenty years ago. By sharing her story with the Palmetto Health Foundation in 2016, Courtney raised awareness for the impact of cancer genetic counseling throughout our community.

2016 Honoree

Roz McConnaughy

Roz McConnaughy was recognized for investing her medical librarian expertise in the program as she guides faculty and students in integrating the latest evidence base in thesis research and clinical practice.

2015 Honoree

Lydia Matesic, PhD

USC Associate Professor of Biology, Dr. Matesic, was honored in 2015. Dr. Matesic challenges our students to understand the edge of genomic research technologies and where research is leading our clinical practice.

2014 Honoree

C. Thomas Caskey, MD

C. Thomas Caskey was the 2014 honoree, having created the impetus to launch the USC Genetic Counseling Fall Symposium with his 2013 avante-garde keynote address, "Counseling the Genome". 

2013 Honoree 

Faculty of the Greenwood Genetic Center

The faculty of the Greenwood Genetic Center have provided lecture, laboratory and clinical expertise to our students’ development since the inception of the program in 1985. The award was presented by Dr. Ferrante himself at the May 2013 Greenwood Genetics Center case conference, at which time we recognized the significant contributions of the center and especially of Doctors Skinner, Stevenson and Everman for their consistent support of genetic counselor education.

2012 Honoree

Professors Rich Goodwin (Cell Biology) and Erica Blanck (Anatomy)

Professors Goodwin and Blanck were honored in 2012 for their commitment to genetic counseling education. These professors, along with others from our basic science faculty, provide foundational education in human development in a four credit, two semester course for first year students. They go above and beyond for us every year.

2011 Honoree

Ken Corning, MS '93 and Angie Lichty, MS '99

Special Friends of the Program, Ken Corning and Angie Lichty, were recognized in 2011 for their teaching expertise which has become integral to the education of genetic counselors. Ken and Angie develop students’ pediatric genetic counseling skills through classroom instruction, interactive workshops and clinical rotations.

2010 Honoree

Ruth K. Abramson, PhD

The 2010 honoree Ruth K. Abramson, PhD, has taught psychiatric genetics to our students since the program's inception. Dr. Abramson developed the S.C. Huntington Disease Testing and Counseling Program more than 30 years ago, serving the families of South Carolina in this special area of medicine.

2009 Honoree

Madeleine Will

Director of Public Policy for the National Down Syndrome Society was honored in 2009, for her engagement in conversations and support of master of science thesis research as we have worked together to build greater understanding between the genetics and Down syndrome advocacy communities.

2008 Honoree

Wendell H. McKenzie, PhD

We recognized Wendell H. McKenzie, PhD., Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Genetics from North Carolina State University upon his retirement in 2008. Dr. McKenzie has lit the genetics enthusiasm of many undergraduate students over his career.

2007 Honoree

Richard R. Ferrante, PhD

Richard R. Ferrante, PhD, former Director of Disability Resources for the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. In 1983, Richard urged the genetics faculty to develop the program and has served as primary faculty in the classroom and on thesis committees ever since. 

Outstanding Genetic Counselor Award 

Robert Young Award

S. Robert Young, PhD

Each spring, the Genetic Counseling Program faculty select one member of the graduating class for the Outstanding Genetic Counselor Award, named for our founding director Dr. S. Robert Young. This graduate has performed in an exemplary manner in every facet of their professional education: in academic coursework, clinical rotations, interactions with faculty, service learning and as a representative of the Genetic Counseling Program. We always find it difficult to select just one.

Lauren Desrosier

Lauren Desrosier

During Lauren's time at USC, she excelled in both the classroom and the clinic, while also working part time as a Genetic Counseling Assistant for GeneDx.  Lauren went above and beyond to spread awareness of the profession through the creation of the first USC Genetic Counseling Club on campus. Lauren is our first graduate to launch her career in the new area of pediatric oncology with Baylor College of Medicine. 

  • 2017 Rachel Hickey
  • 2016 Molly Snyder and Natasha Rudy
  • 2015 Devon Haynes
  • 2014 Brittanie Morris
  • 2013 Ginger Edwardsen
  • 2012 Vruti Mehta and Audra Bettinelli
  • 2011 Madison Foster
  • 2010 Ravin Winfrey
  • 2009 Sally Cunningham Harris
  • 2008 Peggy Walker
  • 2007 Holly Hardin Zimmerman
  • 2006 Christina Barger
  • 2005 Bridget Aufmuth
  • 2004 Anne Baughman Bandholz
  • 2003 Lindsay Allen Metcalf
  • 2002 Stephanie Nix
  • 2001 Elizabeth Cook Dempsey
  • 2000 Mary Ann Whalen Campion
  • 1999 Amy Giordano Shealy
  • 1998 Lori Terry
  • 1997 Melissa Bennett
  • 1996 Jennifer Sullivan Sareela
  • 1995 Sonja Eubanks
  • 1994 Lara Berg
  • 1993 Jill Fischer
  • 1992 Debera Harris Zvejnieks


Distinguished Alumni Award

The Genetic Counseling Program has always recognized our success as a program comes from the accomplishments of our very active alumni. Since 2001, the School of Medicine has honored an outstanding alum each year, welcoming them to the School of Medicine Black Tie-White Coat Gala and the Dean’s Awards Dinner in the spring, and inviting the alum to visit with program faculty and students, often as a special guest lecturer. We are proud of our graduates!

Debbie Zvejnieks

Debbie Zvejnieks, MS, CGC

Debbie Zvejnieks previously worked in pediatrics at the Greenwood Genetic Center and held prenatal genetic counseling positions at Memorial Medical Center in Savannah, GA and at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, CO. 

Debbie serves on the USC Genetic Counseling Program Advisory Board. She also leads genetic counseling students in our community engagement outreach to promote awareness of the program and encourage community collaboration and volunteerism. 

Debbie also serves or has served on numerous community Boards including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, Artists for Africa, the Columbia Museum of Art, the Columbia City Ballet, EdVenture Children’s Museum and the Junior League of Columbia. She also helps manage, along with her husband Peter, the Zvejnieks Foundation of South Carolina.

  • 2017 Emily Ellen Hardisty (2001)
  • 2016 Libby Malphrus (2001)
  • 2015 Peggy Walker (2008)
  • 2014 Katie Berrier Sheets (2009)
  • 2013 Cam Brasington (1988)
  • 2012 Kerry Crandall (1988)
  • 2011 Mary Ann Campion (2000)
  • 2010 Jennifer Sullivan (1996)
  • 2009 Melissa Bennett (1998)
  • 2008 Courtney Rowell Tate (2000)
  • 2007 Holly Peay (1997)
  • 2006 Sonja Eubanks (1996)
  • 2005 Vicki Vincent (1987)
  • 2004 Christine Miller (1989)
  • 2002 Jill Fischer (1993)
  • 2001 Cam Brasington (1988)


Genetic Counselor Supervision Award

Vicki Vincent

Victoria A. Vincent, MS, CGC

Named in honor of Vicki Vincent, MS, CGC who graduated in the inaugural class of the Genetic Counseling Program and services on faculty as a teacher, mentor and clinical supervisor for over 30 years. This award honors a genetic counselor that serves as an exemplary clinical rotation supervisor. The honoree is nominated by the graduating genetic counselors annually and awarded to an individual who exhibits the qualities of an ideal supervisor: "providing balanced feedback, cultivating the critical thinking process, building confidence, allowing autonomy with respect for student opinion and fostering a collegial relationship." 

Sally Shields

Sally M. Shields, RN, CGC

Sally Shields has been a mentor and clinical supervisor to students of the USC Genetic Counseling Program for more than 30 years.  Sally is a registered nurse and received her training in genetics at the Medical University of South Carolina under the tutelage of Shashidhar Pai. She is the director for genetic counseling at the MUSC Prenatal Wellness Center and continues to share her expertise and experience through the clinical supervision of our students. 

  • 2017 Vicki Vincent (1987)


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