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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 2022

Kayla Blankenship

Kayla Blankenship

Kayla Blankenship graduated from the College of Charleston in 2020 where she completed a B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Molecular Biology and a minor in Neuroscience. During her time there, she spent 4 years working  in a lab studying MEF2C haploinsufficiency syndrome, a syndromic form of autism. In addition to this, Kayla served as a peer counselor for her undergraduate institution where she assisted fellow students through various challenges they faced. She decided she wanted to become a genetic counselor during her sophomore year of college. After this decision was made, she shadowed one prenatal and one pediatric genetic counselor. She is happy to be back in the Columbia area and is extremely excited to be a part of the USC Genetic Counseling Program!

Kayla.Blankenship@uscmed.sc.edu

Romy Fawaz

Romy Fawaz

Romy Fawaz is originally from Lebanon but grew up in Lawton, Oklahoma. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma (OU) in 2018 with a B.S. in Biology and Biochemistry. During her time at OU, Romy’s undergraduate research was focused on evolution and natural selection of different fish species, with thoughts of becoming an evolutionary biologist; that same professor later mentioned genetic counseling as a potential career opportunity her junior year. After graduation, she began working at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts as a clinical research coordinator for Genomes2People, a highly specialized group focused on conducting research in hopes to accelerate the implementation of genomic medicine and precision health. She worked on large NIH funded research initiatives including MedSeq, BabySeq, and PeopleSeq. Romy is ecstatic about being a part of the USCGCP Class of 2022 and to be in a city with some warm weather for outdoor activities! She welcomes any questions regarding the program.

Romy.Fawaz@uscmed.sc.edu

Grace Hollingsworth

Grace Hollingsworth

Grace Hollingsworth is from Greenwood, South Carolina. She attended Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC where she graduated in May 2020 with a B.S. in Biology and a concentration in Medical Humanities. During her time in college, Grace volunteered at many different organizations including as an orientation staff leader for incoming freshmen, a Young Life leader to high school students attending Dorman High School, and a recruitment counselor during Greek recruitment. Grace also spent a January term shadowing different therapists at the Meyer Center, a school that provides education and therapeutic services to special needs children. Grace worked as a Genetics Laboratory Teaching Assistant during her senior year of college while she conducted research on cell regulation of Breviolum minutum in low phosphate conditions. In order to complete her concentration in Medical Humanities, Grace completed her senior thesis on the ethical considerations of human germline editing. To gain more exposure to the field of genetic counseling, she shadowed a prenatal genetic counselor at Spartanburg Regional Outpatient Center Maternal Fetal Medicine. Grace is beyond excited to be a part of USC’s Genetic Counseling Class of 2022!

Elizabeth.Hollingsworth@uscmed.sc.edu

Maddy Ladouceur

Madeline Ladouceur

Madeline Ladouceur is originally from Whitby in Ontario, Canada. She graduated from The University of Western Ontario in April 2020 with an Honors BSc in Genetics. As an undergraduate student Madeline volunteered with Let’s Talk Science, an organization that sends university students to classrooms and community events to run STEM-related activities with kids. She was also a volunteer with the Canadian Mental Health Association Support Line. In addition to her work in the community, Madeline volunteered in Dr. Anne Simon’s research lab focusing on the role genetics plays in the social behaviour of Drosophila melanogaster. Madeline gained exposure to the field of genetic counseling through her work as a laboratory management program intern with eviCore Healthcare. This opportunity allowed her to speak with many genetic counselors about the field while gaining valuable experience in utilization management. Madeline is thankful and appreciative of all of her support networks and is excited to begin her next chapter with USC’s Genetic Counseling Class of 2022.

Madeline.Ladouceur@uscmed.sc.edu

Cori Locke

Corinne Locke

Corinne Locke graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2017 with a B.S. in Biology and a Minor in Dance. While in college she was initiated as a member of the national honor society Phi Kappa Phi. She completed her honors thesis A Study of Pain, Experiential Avoidance, and Emotions in Different Skill Levels of Ballet Dancers and graduated with honors. After graduating, Corinne volunteered as a crisis counselor for Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE). She then worked at Prenatal Diagnosis of Northern California as a genetic counseling assistant helping women with high risk pregnancies. She also volunteered at University of California, Davis in the Division of Genomic Medicine for a year, working in the metabolic clinic, precision medicine clinic and newborn screening. For two summers, she enjoyed volunteering for the Special Olympics. The following year, she worked as a genetic counseling assistant in the Hereditary Cancer Program at University of California, Davis. To gain more exposure to the field, she shadowed a genetic counselor at Emory Genetic Lab and a prenatal counselor in Ohio. Corinne is excited to move all the way to South Carolina to be a part of the USC Genetic Counseling program! She is happy to answer any questions about the program or the application process.

Corinne.Locke@uscmed.sc.edu

Megan Michalski

Megan Michalski

Megan Michalski is from Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated from Clemson University in May 2020 with a B.S. in Genetics and minors in Psychology and Spanish Studies. While attending Clemson, Megan was involved in Clemson LIFE which is a program dedicated to providing college education and teaching independence to individuals with intellectual disabilities. She is grateful for the friendships she made with the students while acting as a classroom assistant tutoring them in math skills, life skills, and self-advocacy. Megan was also a volunteer at Mental Health America - Greenville, where she was a crisis-line counselor and phone operator helping individuals through a variety of crises. The summer after her freshman year, Megan traveled on a medical mission trip to Costa Rica to learn of health disparities in the world, aid the community in Costa Rica, and expand her Spanish knowledge. In the summer of 2019, she studied microbiology in Poland, where she explored her familial heritage and perfected her native Polish language. Megan is so excited to be a part of the UofSC Genetic Counseling Class of 2022!

Megan.Michalski@uscmed.sc.edu

Rachel Nicely

Rachel Nicely

Rachel Nicely is originally from Woodbridge, VA and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in May 2018 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Psychology. During her undergraduate career, she began volunteering as a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate with Action in Community Through Service, a local non-profit organization aiming to serve residents of Prince William County. During her senior year she conducted undergraduate research in the Prosser laboratory, studying a candidate suppressor gene for an ALS-related phenotype. Shortly after graduating she accepted a position at GeneDx working as a Genetic Counseling Assistant in the Neurogenetics department. There, she aided both neurogenetics and mitochondrial/metabolic departments and gained relevant knowledge about laboratory genetic counseling. Rachel has been loving Columbia living and is ecstatic to be a gamecock. She is happy to answer any questions about the program or provide any guidance on the application process!

Rachel.Nicely@uscmed.sc.edu

Allison Perez

Allison Perez

Allison Perez was born in Raleigh, North Carolina but spent most of her childhood in Evergreen, Colorado. She graduated from Montana State University in May of 2020 with a B.S. in Microbiology and Immunology and minors in Psychology and Genetics. As a part of her undergraduate experience, Allison was an active undergraduate researcher in the Schmidt Lab. Her work focused on the biochemical synthesis of isotopically labeled amino acids, antioxidant-oxidant interactions, and sulfur metabolism in genetically engineered mouse livers. Throughout her time at MSU, Allison enjoyed getting involved in the Bozeman community. Allison volunteered as a mentor with Big Sky Youth Empowerment, working with teenagers in the Bozeman area to help them cope with their past and prepare for changes and choices as they enter adulthood. Allison is so excited to be attending The University of South Carolina and cannot wait to be a Genetic Counselor!

Allison.Perez@uscmed.sc.edu

Mary Smith

Mary Catherine Smith

Mary Catherine Smith is from Sumter, South Carolina. She graduated from Clemson University in December 2019 with a B.A. in Biochemistry and a minor in Biological Sciences. She graduated with general and departmental honors in Biological Sciences after writing her thesis on the anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects of extracted compounds from Physalis peruviana and Vernonia cinerea Less. Mary Catherine participated in the EUREKA! Honors Research Program in the summer of 2016 and continued her involvement in research through Clemson’s Creative Inquiry Program for the rest of her time in undergrad. The summer before her senior year she also participated in MUSC’s summer undergraduate research program where she worked on cancer research, specifically targeting oncogenic RAS mutants with monobody proteins. Starting her junior year, she became a volunteer advocate for victims of sexual assault at Foothills Alliance. She is excited to be a part of UofSC's Genetic Counseling Class of 2022!

Mary.Smith@uscmed.sc.edu

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

 

 


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