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School of Medicine Columbia

  • Class of 2023

Our Students

Students pursuing a career in genetic counseling build unique experiences as they prepare for graduate education. Each of our students has something special to offer from their undergraduate, post graduate and extracurricular experiences as they merge to become a team of learners.

Class of 2023

Kenya DeLeon

Kenya De Leon

Kenya De Leon is from Greenwood, South Carolina. She attended Clemson University and graduated in May 2021 with a B.S. in Genetics and a minor in Spanish. During her time at Clemson, Kenya participated in bioinformatics undergraduate research in the Wang Laboratory. She worked on essential genes in cancer using WGCNA, an R package for weighted correlation network analysis. She was also a part of the Rotaract Club, where she volunteered with several organizations including Rise Against Hunger, Camp Spearhead, Helping Hands, and Project Linus. Kenya is happy to answer any program or application related questions that anyone may have. She is excited to be a part of the UofSC Genetic Counseling Class of 2023!

Kenya.DeLeon@uscmed.sc.edu

Scott Dent

Scott Dent

Scott Dent is originally from Lake Forest, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 2019 with a B.S. in Neuroscience. During his time in Michigan, he worked under Dr. Sue Hammoud to study the effect that epigenetic modifications have on fertility.  He also  volunteered for the SafeHouse Center of Washtenaw County, a shelter that supports victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. After graduating, he worked for two years as a research coordinator for the ALS Center of Excellence at the University of Michigan Hospital. In this role, he helped with several NIH funded research projects focused on ALS, including an epidemiological risk factor study, and a whole-exome sequencing study. His primary responsibilities consisted of conducting research visits, handling data, and coordinating sample collections. Scott has been preparing for the field of genetic counseling for many years now, so he is very excited to be starting his education this year, especially at the University of South Carolina!

Thomas.Dent@uscmed.sc.edu

Sarah Dickman

Sarah Dickman

Sarah Dickman is from Cary, North Carolina. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. While at UNC, she worked as a biology and chemistry peer tutor, an elementary school violin teacher with Musical Empowerment, a community group leader with Cru, and an English teacher to young students in Slovakia. Following graduation, she worked for two years as a laboratory analyst for Ajinomoto Health and Nutrition, where she performed chromatographic analysis on pharmaceutical grade amino acids. During this time, Sarah also enjoyed volunteering for Crisis Text Line and for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. She gained valuable knowledge about the field of genetic counseling through UofSC’s online genetic counseling course, and by shadowing and interviewing cancer, laboratory, prenatal, and pediatric genetic counselors. She is so excited to be a part of the Class of 2023 and welcomes any questions about the application process or the program!

Sarah.Dickman@uscmed.sc.edu

Annika Gadson

Annika Gadson

Annika Gadson is from Summerville, South Carolina. She graduated from Wofford College in May of 2021 with a B.S in Biology and a minor in Sociology and Anthropology. While attending Wofford, Annika was involved in a student-led Women of Color organization. She also volunteered with the ARCH Afterschool Program, a program focused on serving the underprivileged adolescent. Annika worked as a math tutor, an assistant to the biology professors, and instructed dance classes in the evenings. During her senior year, Annika co-led an independent study on Intersectionality and African American Feminist Thought, which focused on the epistemology of Black women’s experience with sexism and racism. To gain more exposure to the field of genetic counseling, Annika spent a summer shadowing cancer genetic counselors at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange, California and Banner Health in Phoenix, Arizona. Annika is excited to finally be a part of the Gamecock Nation and is looking forward to becoming a genetic counselor!

Annika.Gadson@uscmed.sc.edu

Hayley Granger

Hayley Granger

Hayley Granger is from Jacksonville, Florida. She attended Florida State University where she graduated in August 2017 with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Biology. During her time at FSU, Hayley volunteered with Helping Every Little Person, Inc. and Crisis Text Line. These experiences solidified her interest in working with diverse populations. Following graduation, Hayley worked as a Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner at The Arc Jacksonville, counseling adults with intellectual and development differences. She later worked as a Neuropsychometrist where she administered cognitive tests to patients to assist in the diagnosis of neurological diseases. In an effort to gain additional exposure to genetic counseling, Hayley shadowed a variety of genetic counselors throughout Florida. She also attended the NSGC’s Annual Conference in 2018 and completed the ‘Genetic Counseling: Career for the Future’ Course offered through the University of South Carolina. Hayley is thrilled to be a part of The University of South Carolina’s Genetic Counseling Program, Class of 2023! She welcomes any questions about the program or the application process. 

Hayley.Granger@uscmed.sc.edu

Allie Paltzer

Allie Paltzer

Allie Paltzer is from Naperville, Illinois. She graduated in May 2021 from the University of Iowa with a B.S. in Biology on the Genetics and Biotechnology track and a B.A. in English and Creative Writing in the Honors College. During her time at Iowa, she participated in three years of research under Dr. John Manak, studying the connection between epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease in Drosophila melanogaster. Allie additionally participated in the Personal Genome Learning Center, an organization that gave monthly presentations and community events to the public about current topics in genetics. Allie was also fortunate to study abroad in a writer’s program Spring of 2020 in Dublin, Ireland. During her undergraduate years, she served as the President of the Alpha Beta chapter of Alpha Delta Pi, mentored younger women in STEM through Women in Science and Engineering, and volunteered as a crisis counselor with Crisis Text Line. Allie is thrilled to be part of the Class of 2023 and is more than happy to answer any questions about the program or application process!

Allison.Paltzer@uscmed.sc.edu

Liz Pancake

Liz Pancake

Liz Pancake is from Fort Wayne, Indiana. She graduated from Ball State University in May 2021 with a B.S. in Biology and minors in Interpersonal Relations and Spanish. During her undergraduate years, she worked with adults with disabilities through Easter Seals Arc and volunteered with Crisis Text Line as a crisis counselor. Liz gained exposure in the field of genetic counseling through shadowing, attending the INGC conferences, and participating in webinars. At Ball State, she was the research lead on a team focusing on identifying consanguinity and disease in generations of families. Liz also led the Genetics Club and Pre-Genetic Counseling Club at Ball State, which brought together a small group of students to learn about relevant topics and issues in genetics and genetic counseling. During her Senior year, Liz completed her thesis on how telemedicine has impacted the work/life balance of genetic counselors, which provided valuable insight on the benefits and implications of this model. She is excited to be in the USCGCP Class of 2023 and is happy to talk to anyone about the program or application process!

Elizabeth.Pancake@uscmed.sc.edu

Nisha Pandya

Nisha Pandya

Nisha Pandya is from Cary, North Carolina. She graduated from NC State University in December 2020 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a minor in Genetics. Throughout her undergraduate years, Nisha was involved with a student organization called MEDLIFE that expands access to healthcare for low-income communities. She traveled to Lima, Peru to volunteer with community members and local health professionals to help improve accessibility to sustainable healthcare. Additionally, she was an undergraduate research assistant for two projects in a neurobiology and genetics lab studying both genetic engineering and stress coping styles. Nisha also volunteered in classrooms at the Frankie Lemmon School in Raleigh, a school that is inclusive for children with disabilities. When Nisha realized she was passionate about genetic counseling, she shadowed a prenatal genetic counselor and interviewed additional genetic counselors working in prenatal and pediatrics at UNC and Duke. Nisha is very excited to be a part of the USCGCP Class of 2023! 

Nisha.Pandya@uscmed.sc.edu

Olivia Wilmarth

Olivia Wilmarth

Olivia Wilmarth is from Chesterfield County, VA. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2020 with a major in Global Health and a minor in Disability Studies. During her undergraduate years, Olivia was a member of the cheerleading team and an orientation leader for new students. She completed her senior thesis on the implementation of clinical genetics services in low-income countries, combining her interests in international health and genomic medicine. After graduation, Olivia began working as a genetic counseling assistant at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Epilepsy Neurogenetics Initiative (ENGIN) program. She gained valuable clinical experience in this role while learning about the genetic basis of neurological disorders in the pediatric patient population. Olivia is thrilled to be a member of the UofSC GCP Class of 2023 and can’t wait to see what the next two years have in store!

Olivia.Wilmarth@uscmed.sc.edu

Class of 2024

Mikayla Jennings

Mikayla Jennings

Mikayla Jennings graduated from Clemson University in 2021, where she completed a B.S. in Genetics with a minor in psychology. During her time at Clemson, Mikayla was involved in ClemsonLife, a program providing college experience for individuals with intellectual disabilities through initiatives that prepare them for employment and independent living. She also worked as an anatomy and physiology peer tutor and volunteered at Mental Health America - Greenville as a crisis intervention specialist. Following graduation, Mikayla worked for one year as a genetic counseling assistant at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. She gained valuable experience assisting on several research projects and observing in their general genetics clinic. She also worked as a registered behavior technician, implementing services in applied behavior analysis to individuals with autism and other behavioral diagnoses. Mikayla is excited to be part of the Class of 2024 and is happy to answer any questions!

Mikayla.Jennings@uscmed.sc.edu

Andrea Johnson

Andrea Johnson

Andrea Johnson graduated from the University of Maryland in 2022 where she completed her degree in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. At UMD, she was an active member of the Pre-Genetic Counseling Society where she served as the social media coordinator and vice president. She also was a part of the UMD Scholars Science and Global Change living and learning program where she was a teaching assistant. Outside of her involvement at UMD, Andrea interned with Johns Hopkins Hospital's Genetic Counseling Clinic where she co-authored a paper on Postnatal Progressive Craniosynostosis in Syndromic Conditions. Andrea was also an active member of the greater Maryland community. She is a crisis counselor for the Family Crisis Center of Baltimore County helping serve individuals experiencing intimate partner violence. For two summers, she worked as a camp counselor at the Camp JCC for young adults with disabilities. Andrea is excited to be a part of the USC genetic counseling program and is happy to answer any questions about the program or application process!

Andrea.Johnson@uscmed.sc.edu

Kayla Lashinger

Kayla Lashinger

Kayla Lashinger is from Orlando, Florida. She graduated from the University of Central Florida in December of 2020 with a B.S. in Health Sciences. During her time at UCF, she presented and published an undergraduate research project studying the relationship between eating disorders and narcissism. In addition, she served as a UCF global ambassador and worked with the Society for Scientific Advancement to promote STEM to students in the US and the Caribbean.  After graduating, she continued to serve as a crisis counselor, interned with the Medical University of Wisconsin’s genetic counseling program, and worked with a local nonprofit, Abilities Workshop, serving those with special needs. Kayla is so excited to be part of the supportive genetic counseling program at UofSC and is here for any questions you have along your journey!

Kayla.Lashinger@uscmed.sc.edu 

Justine Manigault

Justine Manigault

Justine Manigault is originally from Township of Washington, New Jersey. She graduated from the University of Florida in April 2022 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Sociology. During her undergraduate experience, she was involved in crisis counseling at Alachua County Crisis Center which was a 24 hour hotline offered for all individuals and set up free counseling for Alachua County residents. To further her counseling exposure, Justine was a mentor to University of Florida students in the College of Liberal Arts, providing insight on major options, class registration, and academic advice. She was also a mentor for MentorGNV, an organization that offers University of Florida students the opportunity to work with elementary, middle and high school students on areas in academics, organization, and their own personal issues. Justine also has a passion for promoting diversity in the world of GC as well as within her peers. She was elected the Head of Race and Ethnicity under the DEIA committee within her sorority and hopes to utilize those skills throughout her graduate experience and career. She is grateful to be a part of the program and looks so forward to all it has to offer.

Justine.Manigault@uscmed.sc.edu

Emily Mason

Emily Mason

Emily Mason is from Wooster, OH. She graduated from Denison University in 2019 with a B.S. in Biology. During her time at Denison, she worked as a biology and chemistry tutor, a nurses’s assistant at the student health center, and a student mentor through the Big Brother’s Big Sisters program. After graduating she working in a genetics research lab studying the genetic architecture of Parkinson’s disease in Latin American populations. As a research assistant, Emily helped coordinate the recruitment, collection and processing of incoming samples samples from over 24 sites across Latin America. She also worked as a genetic counseling assistant at GeneDx. At this time Emily also volunteered for Hope and Healing, a local survivor resource center. She interviewed many genetic counselors to learn more about the genetic counseling field, and attended many GC-related webinars. She is so excited to be a student at UofSC class of 2024!

Emily.Mason2@uscmed.sc.edu

Mary Elise Nolen

Mary Elise Nolen

Mary Elise Nolen is originally from outside of Birmingham, AL. She graduated from Furman University in Greenville, SC in 2021 where she earned her B.S. in biology and minored in Medicine, Health, and Culture. At Furman she pursued research in the intersection between Southwestern American Indian healing traditions and westernized health care systems. Next, she was a Theology, Medicine, and Culture Fellow at Duke Divinity School. There she focused on disability theology and bioethics. Additionally, she shadowed in a non-profit OB/GYN clinic that saw patients of varying insurance statuses and volunteered with Reality Ministries for adults with disabilities. At USC she is Center for Disability Resources grad assistant. Mary Elise is thrilled to be a part of the USCGCP and welcomes anyone to reach out with questions!

MaryElise.Nolen@uscmed.sc.edu

Jen Ryan

Jen Ryan

Jen Ryan is from Montvale, New Jersey, and graduated from Wake Forest University in 2021 with a double major in Biology and Spanish and a minor in Chemistry. For her honors thesis, she carried out research in a neuroscience lab looking at chemesthesis in earthworms. During her time at Wake Forest, she served as a student leader in Jewish life, participated in the Women in STEM organization, and acted as a tutor, mentor, and student advisor. In the community, she visited patients at the local Hospice, answered crisis counseling calls for HopeLine, and volunteered as a fitness and wellness program monitor as well as a literacy tutor for GiGi’s Playhouse, an achievement center for individuals with Down syndrome. Before starting graduate school, Jen completed a one-year postgraduate Fellowship at Wake Forest in the Information Systems department, where she worked on staff-student communications, technology accessibility policy and procedure, and cybersecurity training and initiatives. She is excited for her next two years in Columbia, and to be one of the LEND trainees in her cohort!

Jennifer.Ryan@uscmed.sc.edu

Aubrey Surian

Aubrey Surian

Aubrey Surian is from Burlington, CT. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2022 with a double major in Molecular and Cell Biology and Psychology. During her time at UConn, she participated in three years of research under Dr. R. Holly Fitch, where she completed her honor’s thesis studying the developmental outcomes of Foxp1 cerebellar-specific knockout mice. In addition, she volunteered as a mentor through Big Brother’s Big Sister’s Program and as a crisis counselor with Crisis Text Line. She also worked as a high school tutor for ConnCAP, a program which aimed to help first generation and low-income students graduate high school and guide them in applying to and enrolling in college. Aubrey is very excited to be a part of the UofSC Genetic Counseling Class of 2024 and is happy to answer any questions about the program or application process! 

Aubrey.Surian@uscmed.sc.edu

Robin Urban

Robin Urban

Robin Urban is from Fairfax, Virginia. She graduated from Clemson University in 2022 with a degree in Genetics with minors in Psychology and Biochemistry. During her time in school she participated in undergraduate research looking at woody plant genetics. She was also a member of many student organizations including the National Society of Leadership and Success, Sigma Alpha Lambda, a DJ at WSBF Clemson Radio, and was a leader in the Hiking Club. On her journey to becoming a genetic counseling student, she interned at ITMI Inova hospital where she shadowed under multiple genetic counselors and helped on the 1,000 Days of Life Study. She also took the UofSC summer genetic counseling course where she solidified her decision to become a genetic counselor. Robin is very excited to be part of UofSC Genetic Counseling Class of 2024 as well as one of the LEND trainees!

Robin.Urban@uscmed.sc.edu

 


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