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.
What Does it Mean to be a Genetic Counseling Student?
At the University of South Carolina it means you become part of the team from day one: an engaged learner in our genetics
center. You'll have an experienced faculty who are open door mentors in your preparation
for this career. You'll have access in the classroom and in the clinic to the genetic
counselor faculty and geneticists in our rotation network of twelve genetic centers.
The world of genetic counseling will unfold for you in two very busy years.
Our goal is to provide a strong foundation in genetic concepts and interpersonal communication
to prepare our students for the dozens of roles open to genetic counselors today.
Upon graduation, our students will demonstrate advanced knowledge in genetics, genomics
and psychosocial skills and will be equipped to collaborate with an interprofessional
team to provide patient centered care in a variety of settings.
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!
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
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 USC and is here for any questions you have along your journey!
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 Mentor GNV, 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.
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 nurse’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 USC class of 2024!
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!
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!
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 USC Genetic
Counseling Class of 2024 and is happy to answer any questions about the program or
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 USC summer genetic counseling
course where she solidified her decision to become a genetic counselor. Robin is very
excited to be part of USC Genetic Counseling Class of 2024 as well as one of the LEND
Bryel Frasch is from Gordon, Pennsylvania and graduated from The Pennsylvania State
University in 2020 with a major in Genetics and Developmental Biology and a business
certificate minor. During her time at PSU, Bryel was a member of the Presidential
Leadership Academy, president of an acapella group, and worked as a summer undergraduate
research intern where she had her first exposure to genetic counseling! After graduation,
Bryel gained more counseling experience working as a genetic counseling assistant
at Geisinger in Danville, PA for over two years. As a GCA, she had various roles supporting
a team of 6 cancer genetic counselors. She contributed to two research projects looking
at the effects of returning genetic results to minors and assessing adolescent perspectives
on the transition period from pediatric care to adult care in those with a hereditary
cancer predisposition. She also worked closely with the Inherited Risk GI Multidisciplinary
Clinic team, shadowed genetic counselors of various specialties, and was a hospice
volunteer. Bryel is elated and grateful to be part of the GC program here at USC!
Kaitlyn Gmitro is from Greenville, South Carolina. She attended Clemson University
and graduated May 2023 with a B.S. in Genetics and minors in Psychology and Life Sciences.
While at Clemson, Kaitlyn volunteered with ClemsonLIFE, a program for young adults
with intellectual disabilities to help them learn life skills and attend college with
the goal of independent living. She participated in undergraduate research in a bioinformatics
lab where she learned to code and run data-intensive workflows. Kaitlyn was a genetics
peer mentor and a Wellness Ambassador for the Clemson Honors College helping to promote
holistic wellness and mental health awareness on Clemson’s campus. During this time
she worked as a coach at Brain Balance to help children with ASD, ADHD/ADD, and developmental
delays perform better in school. Kaitlyn gained valuable experience in the field while
she was a genetic counseling intern for the Greenwood Genetics Center in Charleston,
SC in the summer of 2022. She is very excited to be a part of the class of 2025 and
welcomes any questions about applying to GC school and participating in the LEND fellowship!
Kashish Khanna is from Louisville, Kentucky. She graduated from the University of
Cincinnati in December 2022 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a minor in Psychology.
During her undergraduate career, she was a member of the executive team for the first
Genetic Counseling Club at UC. She also worked as a peer tutor and was part of a research
lab investigating the genetic causes affecting the cranial and sensory-skeletal systems
of the model organism, Astyanax mexicanus. As part of her advocacy work, she volunteered
for the Crisis Text Line and UCRefugee, a club that helps mentor refugees in order
to foster intercultural exchange and dialogue. At Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical
Center (CCHMC), she worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator on a study investigating
the risk of exposure to third-hand smoke for children. In the time between graduating
from UC and starting grad school, she worked as a laboratory genetic counseling assistant
at CCHMC as well. She is so excited to be a student at USCGCGP class of 2025 and is
happy to answer any questions!
Cassidy Lena graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2023, where she completed
a B.A. in Public Health and a minor in Spanish. While at USC, she was a trainee in
the Maternal and Child Health Leadership and Education for Undergraduate Pathways
(LEAP) program, the secretary of the Advocate's Against Alzheimers Association, and
volunteered with the SC Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare. She was also in
the Honors College at USC, where she completed her Honors Senior Thesis on a Medicaid
policy analysis on maternal mortality and morbidity, and infant mortality, among urban
and rural women in South Carolina. Cassidy also worked as a genetic counseling assistant
at USC, where she solidified her decision to become a genetic counselor. In addition,
she studied abroad in Costa Rica where she participated in educational and service-oriented
cultural excursions, including observing the Costa Rican healthcare system, and completed
a medical internship in Cusco, Peru this past summer helping rural clinics. Outside
of USC, she is a U.S. figure skating coach teaching students all of ages in competitive
and recreational skating. Cassidy is so grateful to be a part of the USC Genetic Counseling
Class of 2025 as well as one of the LEND trainees, and is happy to answer any questions
about the program!
Audrey Parrott is from Macon, Georgia. She attended Georgia College & State University
where she graduated in May 2023 with a B.S. in Biology. While at GCSU, Audrey worked
as a Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leader, SI Coach, and Biology and Chemistry tutor.
She also spent 3 years in a reproductive physiology research lab where she completed
her senior capstone. Away from school, she volunteered as a community instructor for
The Arc in Macon where she advocated for, and befriended, a young woman with Downs
Syndrome. These experiences instilled a passion for teaching, learning, science, and
advocacy, leading Audrey to genetic counseling. After shadowing and interviewing several
genetic counselors, she knew this was her calling. This has led her to Columbia, SC
where Audrey is thrilled and proud to be a part of the USCGCP, Class of 2025 as one
of three LEND fellows!
Ansley Roberts graduated from Furman University in December 2022, where she completed
a B.S. in Biology with a minor in film studies. During her time at Furman, she pursued
research looking at the effect of calcium on how T cells fight off infections in the
body. She also worked in the housing department as a resident assistant and an assistant
area coordinator where she supported and mentored college students. Ansley was also
a part of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity at Furman. During the summer before
her senior year, she had an internship with three cancer genetic counselors at Prisma
Health in Greenville, SC. After graduating, Ansley worked as a genetic assistant for
Greenwood Genetic Center in Columbia, SC. As a genetic assistant, she facilitated
eVisits, obtained approval for patient genetic testing from insurance companies, and
assisted pediatric genetic counselors with daily tasks. Ansley is thrilled to be a
part of the USC Genetic Counseling class of 2025 and is happy to answer any questions
about the program or application process!
Sophia Salvatore is from Haddonfield, NJ, and graduated from Thomas Jefferson University
in 2023 with a B.S. in Biopsychology and a minor in Genetics. Throughout undergrad,
Sophia had roles as a resident assistant, freshman peer mentor, orientation leader,
and teaching assistant for Biology I and Principles of Genetics lab courses. She also
participated in an internship in the summer of 2021 at Rowan School of Biomedical
Sciences, where she worked in Dr. Michael Henry’s microbiology lab focused on mitochondrial
genetics. At TJU, she was a research assistant under Dr. Podowitz-Thomas for the studies:
“Experiences of Neurodivergent Undergraduate Students with Group Work in STEM Courses”
and “Chemistry Problem-Solving Approaches of Neurodivergent Students and Their Peer
Tutors.” Outside of school, Sophia volunteered as a crisis counselor at Crisis Text
Line and shadowed genetic counselors at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper University
in New Jersey, both of which helped solidify her interest in genetic counseling. She
chose USCGCP due to the emphasis on community outreach and the tight-knit relationships
between students and faculty, and is extremely grateful to be a part of the class
Julia Schoeni is originally from Newtown, Connecticut. She graduated from Rutgers
University in May 2019 with a B.A. in Genetics. While at Rutgers, she participated
in undergraduate research in the Rongo lab studying the mechanisms of mitochondrial
transport along neurons in C. elegans. After graduating, she joined the Peace Corps
and volunteered as a Biology and Chemistry teacher at a secondary school in Tanzania.
Upon her return, she starting working at Labcorp as a technologist in the COVID-PCR
department and eventually transitioned into a role as a Cytogenetic technologist with
the Oncology group. As a technologist, she cultured and karyotyped patient bone marrow
specimens as well as read FISH prenatal samples. During this time, she also volunteered
with Crisis Text Line as a crisis counselor. To learn more about genetic counseling,
she interviewed and shadowed many counselors in a variety of specialties and confirmed
her decision to become a genetic counselor herself. Julia is thrilled to be a part
of the USC Genetic Counseling Class of 2025 and is happy to answer any questions!
Maggie Stuhlreyer is from Franklin, Tennessee. She graduated from the University of
Georgia in May of 2022 with a B.S. in Genetics. During her undergraduate experience,
she researched various aspects of gene expression in plants and received an assistantship
from the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities. She volunteered at the Crisis
Text Line and a local mental health resource center in Athens, GA. Additionally, she
completed a summer term at the University of Oxford where she studied biomedical ethics.
After graduation, she worked as a Clinical Trials Associate at Vanderbilt University
Medical Center on a team studying the potential benefit of offering a high-dose influenza
vaccine to solid organ transplant recipients. She is excited to be a part of the USC
Genetic Counseling Program and is happy to answer any questions!
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