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School of Medicine

  • Class of 2018

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 2021

Jackie Baquet

Jackie Baquet

Jackie Baquet is originally from Plano, Texas but went to high school in Greenwood, South Carolina. Jackie graduated from the University of South Carolina with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Psychology. During her time as an undergraduate, she was president of USC’s chapter of TriBeta National Biological Honor Society and was involved in Sustainable Carolina where she educated elementary-school children on sustainability practices and the environment. She also worked as a research assistant analyzing the genome of Mytilus mussels and spent Maymester in the United Kingdom conducting this study. Jackie volunteers with Strikers, a youth soccer team for children with special needs, and is coming up on her third season as an assistant coach! To gain more exposure in the field, Jackie worked as a Genetic Counselor Assistant for the USC Genetic Counseling Program and interned in the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory at the Greenwood Genetic Center.

Jacqueline.Baquet@uscmed.sc.edu

Naomi Barker

Naomi Barker

Naomi Barker is from Columbus, Ohio. She attended Denison University in Granville, Ohio where she graduated in May 2017 with a B.S. in Biology. At Denison, Naomi was a member of the varsity soccer team, tutored as a Teaching Assistant for the Data Analytics and Statistics departments and studied internationally. During her time in Denmark and India, she conducted public health research and advocated for women’s health issues. After graduation, Naomi worked at Nationwide Children’s Hospital where she designed an R program that used patient gene expression responses to identify gene mechanisms involved in patient survival. To gain more exposure to the field of genetic counseling, Naomi interned at Johns Hopkins McKusick- Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. During that time, she enjoyed volunteering as a crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line. Naomi is excited to be down south studying at University of South Carolina!

Naomi.Barker@uscmed.sc.edu

Cooper Hall

Cooper Hall

Cooper Hall is from Tustin, California. She graduated from Clemson University in May 2019 with a B.S. in Microbiology and a minor in Genetics. During her undergraduate years, Cooper volunteered with the Family Effect providing childcare and volunteered as a caregiver with Homestead Hospice. She also participated in research, working in Dr. Barbara Campbell’s Microbiology Lab where she characterized members of the Bacteroidetes phylum. As part of this research experience, she presented her research at the American Society of Microbiology National Convention. Cooper was first exposed to the career of genetic counseling through an internship at Children’s Hospital of Orange County. To gain more experience with genetic counseling, she shadowed prenatal, pediatric, and cancer genetic counselors at Greenwood Genetic Center, Fullerton Genetic Center, Gibbs Cancer Center, and Spartanburg Regional Outpatient Center Maternal Fetal Medicine. She is excited to be part of University of South Carolina’s Genetic Counseling Class of 2021!

Cooper.Hall@uscmed.sc.edu

Taylor Kupneski

Taylor Kupneski

Taylor Kupneski graduated from the University of Cincinnati in the spring of 2019 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences with a Cellular/Molecular concentration and minored in Chemistry and Business Management. She also earned a Pre-Medical certificate. During her undergraduate career, she volunteered with multiple organizations including A Voice for the Innocent and the Center for Courageous Kids. She worked as a Peer Leader, facilitating Learning Communities for first year students. She also worked at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center researching efficient  utilization strategies of Proton Radiation Therapy and worked with a small mouse model project on Fanconi Anemia. She also served on the executive board of Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society as the Director of Social then Co-President, as well as on the Programming Council of Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity as the Greek Philanthropy Chairman. She was also active in intramural sports, College of Arts & Science Tribunal, and Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Medical Honor Society. She is thrilled to be a part of USC’s genetic counseling program!

Taylor.Kupneski@uscmed.sc.edu

Dacia Lipkea

Dacia Lipkea

Dacia Lipkea is from North Liberty, Iowa. She graduated from the University of Iowa in December of 2018 with a B.S. in Biology. During her time at the University of Iowa, Dacia spent two years working in Dr. Andrew Forbes’ molecular ecology lab investigating the role that host use plays in driving divergence among a species of neotropical insect and earning an honors distinction by completing an undergraduate thesis. She also volunteered as a crisis counselor at CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank and participated in a student group called the Personal Genome Learning Center, which gave monthly talks to the public about current topics in genetics. Dacia decided she wanted to become a genetic counselor her sophomore year and gained experience with genetic counseling and genetics by shadowing many of the counselors at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and working in the hospital’s cytogenetic laboratory. Dacia is very excited to be a part of this awesome program!

Dacia.Lipkea@uscmed.sc.edu

Allie Merrihew

Allie Merrihew

Allie Merrihew is from Charleston, SC. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2013 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences. Upon completing her degree, Allie remained at the University of Maryland in a neurobiology lab as a research assistant investigating synaptic connectivity by 3D reconstruction of neuronal circuits. She then went on to work in the healthcare industry, gaining experience in business processes and identifying and educating about trends in healthcare. Allie realized her passion and love for genetic counseling after leaving the industry side of healthcare to work as a genetic assistant in the general genetics clinic at the Greenwood Genetic Center in Charleston, SC, predominantly seeing pediatric patients served by the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs (SCDDSN). Here she gained experience in obtaining the initial portion of genetic consultations, talking with families about testing that was offered, and following up with families to provide resources and support. Allie is beyond excited to be a part of the USC’s Genetic Counseling Class of 2021 and is more than happy to answer any questions from prospective students!

Allie.Merrihew@uscmed.sc.edu

Aubrey Rose

Aubrey Rose

Aubrey Rose graduated from Ohio State University with a B.S. in Molecular Genetics and a minor in Clinical Psychology and Individual Differences. During her time at OSU, she was involved in the Undergraduate Genetic Counseling Club and volunteered as a crisis counselor with Crisis Text Line. Aubrey also worked as a research assistant at OSU, most recently in Dr. Noah Weisleder’s lab studying membrane repair in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. She earned honors research distinction by completing her undergraduate thesis in the Weisleder Lab. One of her favorite experiences was presenting her research at the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting in Orlando, FL. Aubrey discovered genetic counseling her sophomore year and learned more about the field by shadowing genetic counselors at OhioHealth and Nationwide Children’s medical center. She’s so excited to be part of USCGCP’s class of 2021!

Aubrey.Rose@uscmed.sc.edu

Maddie Tjoelker

Maddie Tjoelker

Maddie Tjoelker is from Columbus, Ohio.  She graduated from Trinity Christian College in 2018, with a B.S. in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Psychology.  She first heard of genetic counseling in an introductory biology class and, after doing more research and witnessing the field firsthand, she knew that genetic counseling was the field she wanted to pursue.  In addition to shadowing and personal research, Maddie was able to do her honors research project on the biological, psychological and ethical implications of direct-to-consumer genetic testing and was able to present her work at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research. Following graduation, she worked as a genetic counseling assistant for a cancer genetics clinic and was also able to shadow counselors in prenatal, pediatric, and cardiac settings. She also was involved at a local youth center in Columbus, providing a safe environment for kids and young adults in the local community. Maddie is thrilled to be a part of USC’s Genetic Counseling Class of 2021!

Madeleine.Tjoelker@uscmed.sc.edu

Jewel Wasson

Jewel Wasson

Jewel Wasson is originally from Charlotte, NC and graduated from NC State in May 2019 with a B.S. in Genetics and minors in Spanish and Biotechnology. Throughout college, Jewel was part of the Goodnight Scholars Program where she participated in local and international STEM education outreach and mentored incoming freshmen Goodnight Scholars. She was also the president of Shelton Student Delegates club, a Crisis Text Line counselor and Organic Chemistry teaching assistant. Jewel was fortunate to study abroad in Segovia, Spain in the summer of 2017. She participated in undergraduate research throughout college and worked in a neuroendocrinology and genetics lab during her sophomore, junior and senior years. She gained genetic counseling experience by shadowing various specialties at Duke, UNC, and WakeMed hospitals. During the summer before coming to USC, Jewel worked as a home health aide helping individuals with disabilities complete daily care tasks. Jewel is looking forward to her time at USC, and she welcomes any prospective student questions about the program!

Jewel.Wasson@uscmed.sc.edu

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

Madeline 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

 


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