Class of 2018
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 2019
Carrie Anderson is from Burlington, Kentucky. She graduated from the University of
Kentucky in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and International Studies.
During her time at UK, Carrie gained valuable experience conducting undergraduate
research in an adaptation and speciation genomics lab. She was fortunate enough to
study abroad at the Autonomous University of Barcelona as a sophomore and at Chiang
Mai University in Thailand as a senior. Carrie also completed summer internships with
Susan G Komen of Cincinnati, where she attended outreach events to promote awareness
about early cancer detection, and Kentucky Refugee Ministries in Lexington.
Carrie spent her summer clinical rotation at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town,
South Africa and her laboratory rotation at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio.
Her master’s thesis project aims to explore how a diagnosis of hereditary diffuse
gastric cancer impacts the overall well being of emerging adults.
Diane Biederman is from Greenbelt, Maryland. She graduated from North Carolina State
University in 2006 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences with a minor in Japan Studies.
After graduation, she joined the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) and moved
to Kurobe, Japan to teach English in a Japanese high school for two years. She then
returned to North Carolina State to earn a M.S. in Zoology in 2011.
Diane worked at LabCorp in prenatal cytogenetics and also worked at Sequenom where
she performed next-gen sequencing and data analysis of fetal cfDNA. Working closely
with genetic counselors inspired her to join the field. Diane spent her summer rotation
at Genetic Health Services New Zealand in Christchurch, NZ and her laboratory rotation
at Greenwood Genetic Cente in Greenwood, SC. Her thesis topic is “Assessment of Reproductive-Aged
Adults Diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC): Patients’ Understanding of
Clinical Variability, Perceived Disease Burden, and Reproductive Decision-Making.”
Alena Faulkner is from Lafayette, California. She attended Sonoma State University
in Rohnert Park, CA where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and a minor
in Psychology in 2015. Following graduation, Alena spent two years gaining exposure
to the field of genetic counseling by participating in Northwestern University’s Genetic
Counseling internship, interning at University of California San Francisco’s Cancer
Genetics and Prevention Program and interning with the genetics department at the
Cancer Center of Santa Barbara.
Alena spent her summer rotations at Legacy Medical Group’s Maternal Fetal Medicine
clinic in Portland, OR and Sequenom Laboratories in San Diego, CA. Her graduate thesis
focuses on patient and caregiver interest in and comfort with discussing personal
and/or family history of mental illness during a general genetic counseling visit.
Alyssa Gates is originally from Valparaiso, Indiana. She graduated from Purdue University
with a B.S. in genetics and minors in psychology and entrepreneurship. During her
undergraduate years, Alyssa volunteered for three years with Mental Health America
as a crisis intervention specialist and trainer for new specialists. To gain more
experience with genetic counseling, Alyssa shadowed many counselors at Indiana University
and Ann Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, IL. In her last summer of undergraduate
study, she obtained an internship with Genetic Alliance in Washington D.C focusing
on maternal and child health, specifically prenatal screening/testing and newborn
Alyssa spent her summer rotations in prenatal genetic counseling at Evergreen Hospital
in Seattle, Washington and in a laboratory rotation at ARUP. In addition to her coursework
and clinical rotations, she is also working on her Master of Science research aimed
at studying group genetic counseling service delivery models in cancer genetic counseling
for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
Maggie Masterson is from Norwell, Massachusetts. She graduated from Clemson University
in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Genetics and a minor in Psychology. During her
time at Clemson, Maggie was involved in the production of Clemson’s scientific journal,
Tigra scientifica, as a writer and editor. She also worked as a science journalist
for Clemson media relations, reporting on science news and other featured stories.
Her experience as a genetic counseling intern at the Rhode Island Hospital solidified
her desire to pursue a career in genetic counseling.
Maggie spent her summer rotations in cancer genetics at University Hospital in Augusta,
GA and in a laboratory rotation at Greenwood Genetic Center in Greenwood, SC. She
is currently researching hereditary cancer perceptions and misconceptions for her
Caitlyn Mitchell is from Auburn, NY. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in
Biology and a minor in Health Professions from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in
2015. At HWS, Caitlyn was a member of the varsity soccer team, including the 2013
NCAA Division III Women’s National Championship team. Caitlyn earned an M.S. in Molecular
Genetics from Duke University in 2017. Her master’s thesis involved studying non-coding,
human-specific DNA loci that may play roles in neurodevelopmental disorders. She volunteered
as a soccer coach with Special Olympics where she worked with both children and adults
with special needs. To gain more exposure to the field of genetic counseling, Caitlyn
shadowed and interviewed multiple genetic counselors at Duke and UNC. She also took
the semester-long online genetic counseling course offered through the University
of South Carolina.
This summer, Caitlyn completed a prenatal rotation at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola,
FL as well as a laboratory rotation at LabCorp in Durham, NC. She looks forward to
completing her thesis project investigating the perspectives of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers on direct-to-consumer genetic testing for BRCA mutations.
Brianna Teapole is from Burlington, North Carolina. She graduated from the University
of North Carolina (UNC) in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor
in Chemistry. She began volunteering at a crisis hotline, HopeLine, her senior year
in college. After graduation, she worked for LabCorp for three years as a Cytogenetic
Technologist. She also continued volunteering with HopeLine and shadowing genetic
counselors in both prenatal and pediatric settings. Before applying to schools, she
took USC’s online class, Genetic Counseling: Career for the Future, which left her
feeling excited about the profession.
This summer, Brianna completed her first clinical rotation in prenatal genetic counseling
at UNC Chapel Hill. She is currently working on her thesis, which is focused on Amish
perspectives of genetic counseling services.
Courtney Whitmore is from East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. She graduated cum laude
from North Carolina State University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Genetics
and a minor in Psychology. As an undergraduate Courtney volunteered at Victory Junction
Camp, which serves children with serious illnesses in Randleman, NC. Her interest
in genetic counseling began early on in college and she loved being able to work on
a joint project with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and The Loeys-Dietz
Syndrome Foundation to create publications for adults and children preparing for vascular
surgery. She gained more experience in the field by taking USC Genetic Counseling’s
online course during her junior year. After that, she shadowed extensively in the
Pediatric Medical Genetics clinic at Duke University Children’s Hospital. She is also
happy to be a Graduate Instructional Assistant in an undergraduate course at USC’s
College of Nursing.
This past summer, Courtney completed her summer rotation in a pediatrics clinic at
Greenwood Genetics Center in Columbia, SC and a laboratory rotation at Quest Diagnostics.
Her thesis project is researching the social and developmental needs of emerging adults
with genetic conditions.
Class of 2020
Emily Berenson graduated from Rhodes College in 2015 with a B.S. in Neuroscience.
During two summers in college, Emily worked as a camp counselor in North Carolina
at Talisman Summer Camp, a camp for children with autism, ADHD and other special needs.
After graduating, Emily had the opportunity to spend the summer working with pediatric
cancer genetic counselors in the Cancer Predisposition Program at St. Jude Children
Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. She then worked as a genetic counselor assistant
in the cancer genetics department at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX
for three years. During her time in Texas, Emily volunteered at Safe Haven domestic
violence shelter and with the Suicide and Crisis Center of Dallas 24/7 hotline. She
also volunteered as a camp counselor at the National Turner Syndrome Camp in Los Angeles,
CA for two summers during her time working in Texas. Emily is very excited to be part
of the USC Genetic Counseling program and is happy to answer any questions about the
program or the application process!
Olivia Kesler is from Columbus, Mississippi. She graduated from Mississippi State University in
2017 with a B.S. in Educational Psychology. While at State, she was a member of the
Bulldog CHARGE Syndrome Research Lab, and served as a student clinician for the Autism
and Developmental Disabilities Clinic and T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability.
Olivia became familiarized with genetic counseling by shadowing the counselors at
the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS, and happily joined their
team as a genetic counseling assistant. As an undergraduate, she had also spent time
serving NICU families with photography and peer counseling for a crisis pregnancy
center. Olivia loves recruitment and welcomes any and all questions about the field.
She is also excited to be attending a new SEC school, (temporarily) trading her Bulldog
gear for Gamecock attire.
Christine Maccia graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Fall
2015 with a B.S in Biology. She decided she wanted to pursue genetic counseling during
her junior year, and had the opportunity to shadow 2 prenatal genetic counselors at
a maternal-fetal medicine clinic in the area. During the summer of 2015 she completed
the Northwestern Genetic Counseling internship in Chicago, IL. Postgrad Christine
volunteered for a Child Abuse Center before accepting a position as a Genetic Counseling
Assistant at GeneDx. There she assisted the prenatal, rare disorders and array departments.
She also mentored a high school teen from an underprivileged background. Christine
loves her rescue dog, Milo, swimming and being outdoors. She is excited to be back
down south studying at the University of South Carolina.
Falecia Metcalf graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2018
with a B.S. in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Neuroscience. During her time there,
she spent 2 years working in the Berg Lab with NC NEXUS looking at the utility of
genetic testing in newborn screening. She also shadowed cancer genetic counselors
in her time there. She spent a summer volunteering at Mountain Area Pregnancy Services,
where she completed training to counsel clients and helped to organize a fundraiser
for the center.
Ellen Richardson is a Columbia, SC native. She graduated from the University of South
Carolina earning a B.S. in Biological Sciences with a minor in Chemistry in 2011,
and then an M.S in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Cellular, Molecular
and Developmental Biology in 2014. As an undergraduate student, Ellen worked in a
developmental biology lab as a Research Assistant, and continued her Master’s thesis
work in this lab studying mitochondrial DNA replication in Mytilus mussels. Upon graduation, Ellen spent a year in Rock Hill, SC working as a Laboratory
Technologist at Physicians Choice Laboratory Services and then spent three years in
Durham, NC working as a Research Analyst at Duke University’s Center for Human Disease
Modeling (CHDM). Ellen shadowed several genetic counselors at Duke, and took USC’s
online course “Genetic Counseling: Career for the Future.” She also enjoys volunteering
as a crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line, and teaching undergraduate cell and molecular
Dianna Sanderson is a mid career professional who attended Cornell University and
Nova Southeastern University with a respective B.A. in Psychology and M.S. in Marriage
and Family Therapy. Prior to returning to school she enjoyed employment as a human
services professional holding positions of progressive responsibility at the Urban
League of Palm Beach County, a civil rights organization and then at Chrysalis Health,
a child welfare organization. She was active in her family owned and operated group
home for the developmentally disabled and completed short term international trauma
counseling in five countries. Ready to direct her professional energy wisely and compassionately
she is honored to pursue a M.S. in Genetic Counseling through the University of South
Carolina’s School of Medicine.
Analyssa Tallas is from Los Angeles, California. She graduated from Stanislaus State
University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences and a minor in Psychology.
While at Stanislaus State, Analyssa was a member and captain of the NCAA Division
II Women’s Tennis Team, an initiated member of the national honor society Phi Kappa
Phi, and an active member of her sorority, Phi Mu. As an undergraduate, Analyssa volunteered
at Jessica’s House, where she facilitated grief support groups for families affected
by the loss of loved ones. She also completed internships in pediatrics at West Hills
Children’s Medical Group and endocrinology at The Metabolic Institute of America.
Additionally, Analyssa worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant for the course
DNA: Code of Life. After graduating, Analyssa became a volunteer crisis counselor
for the Crisis Text Line and worked as a Health Care Associate at Planned Parenthood.
To gain more experience with genetic counseling, Analyssa shadowed multiple genetic
counselors at the City of Hope National Medical Center, interviewed genetic counselors
from Counsyl and True Health Diagnostics, and completed USC’s online course, Genetic
Counseling: Career for the Future.
Meg Wilkes graduated from Clemson University in December 2017 with a B.A. in Biological
Sciences and a minor in German Studies. She graduated with general and departmental
honors in Psychology after writing her thesis on the effects of partial and total
sleep deprivation on cognitive performance. Meg participated in the EUREKA! Honors
Research Program in the summer of 2014 and continued her involvement in research for
the rest of her time in undergrad, working in both a bioengineering lab and a psychology
lab. Meg also worked as a mentor for Clemson LIFE, a program centered on providing
a college education for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Additionally,
Meg worked as a Lead Tutor for Clemson University’s Athletic Academic Services, teaching
student athletes in various biology and philosophy courses. The summer before her
senior year, she was able to build upon her German skills by spending a semester studying
in Lueneburg, Germany. She is beyond excited to be a part of USC's Genetic Counseling Class