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THE CLASS OF 2018 CHOSE PITT BECAUSE...

Claire Leifeste

Why I chose Pitt:
The program at Pitt appealed to me for a variety of reasons. The dual degree program drew me in because I am interested in community health. I knew getting an additional degree in public health would expand my opportunities in the profession. The city of Pittsburgh was also exciting to me, as it has a large health network and is a great place for young adults!  
Background: Cancer Genetics Intern (Medical City Dallas Hospital), Hotline Volunteer (Project Horizon), Developmental Biology Independent Research (Washington and Lee University), Molecular Genetics Research Intern (UT Southwestern Medical Center)
Work position: Cardio Contractor for GeneDX
Claire Leifeste (B.S. Major in Neuroscience, minor in Poverty and Human Capabilities, Washington and Lee University, 2016.)

Emily Mazzei

Why I chose Pitt:
I really like the way the program is structured. Students are able to build a strong knowledge base during the first year of the program, that they are then able to apply in their clinical rotations during their second year. Because the program is housed in the School of Public Health, I think it lends a unique perspective when learning about the field of genetic counseling and how relevant public health really is. I also like that students are encouraged to find a work position while in the program, oftentimes being able to incorporate their thesis project into their hourly work position.
Background: CASA volunteer, Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Research Assistant in the IU Psychology department, STEM summer camp counselor
Work position: Genetic Counseling Student Worker at the Children's Sickle Cell Foundation
Emily Mazzei (B.A. Majors in Psychology, German, Indiana University-Bloomington, 2014)

Emily Spoth

Why I chose Pitt:
The program is very well established, with great connections both within Pennsylvania health networks for clinical rotations and beyond. However, what really made me choose Pitt was the feeling I got when I visited for an interview. I loved the camraderie between the now-second years, the program’s leadership, and above all, the overwhelming sense that Pitt was the program for me.
Background: Rochester Center for Youth phone counselor, GC shadowing at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, EMT, science tutor
Work position: Cutis Laxa Study Coordinator at Pitt Public Health
Emily Spoth (BS Biomedical Sciences, Concentration in Psychology, Rochester Institute of Technology, 2015)


Jaclyn Amurgis

Why I Chose Pitt:
I chose Pitt because the program provides the opportunity to become familiar with a wide variety of different cases during clinical rotations by working with the many prestigious hospitals throughout Pittsburgh. I also enjoyed that the program includes an optional rotation that allows you to learn more about non-traditional areas of genetic counseling that relate to the specific interests of each student. Overall, Pittsburgh provides an inviting and vastly developing environment to live in along with a uniquely progressive medical community to become involved with.
Background: Telephone bereavement support volunteer for VITAS Hospice, shadowing of cancer and prenatal genetic counselors through Allegheny Health Network, shadowing of pediatric genetic counselors at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, undergraduate research assistant in an evolutionary-developmental genetics lab, rehab assistant in a physical therapy clinic
Work position: Genetic Counseling Assistant at Allegheny General Hospital 
Jaclyn Amurgis (B.S. Major in Biology, Minor in Chemistry, Certificate in Conceptual Foundations of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, 2014)

Jennifer Peck

Why I chose Pitt:
I appreciated that classes are taken in the first year, leaving the second year devoted mostly to rotations, which are all easily accessible by bus rather than having to buy a car. I was also impressed with how the leadership take student feedback and changes in the field into account and are constantly working to make the curriculum better. Being housed in a public health program was a very unique aspect that I thought was fitting for genetic counseling. Lastly, the faculty and students really sold me on all the positives of living in Pittsburgh itself!
Background: Online Writing Tutor, Biology Tutor, Jump Start Freshman Mentor, Vice President and Social Media Strategist for the Secular Student Alliance at ASU, prenatal genetic counselor shadowing
Work Position: Graduate Student Worker and Researcher, Medical Genetics, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
Jennifer Peck (B.S. Biological Sciences (Genetics, Cell, & Developmental Bio), B.A. French, Arizona State University, 2016) 

Joya Petersen

Why I chose Pitt:
I chose Pitt because I love the public health emphasis and diversity of courses offered by the program empowering students to become more competitive in the health industry and pursue non-traditional roles as genetic counselors. I was further enthused by the fact students are able to cultivate their own extensive professional network prior to entering the workforce through the numerous research, job, and other opportunities that Pitt offers in addition to its dynamic alumni network.
Background: Undergraduate Research Coordinator (Designing for Equity in Thinking in and About Mathematics Project), Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (American Sign Language 2), Peer Advisor (Arts and Sciences Advising, Univ. of Pittsburgh), Peer Mentor (Partners in Progress, Univ. of Pittsburgh), Volunteered doing home cased care visits for AIDS/HIV patients in Tanzania
Work position: Genetic Counseling Assistant at Magee Women's Hospital 
Joya Petersen (B.S. Major in Molecular Biology, Minor in Chemistry, Certificate in American Sign Language, University of Pittsburgh, 2016)

Julia Spoth

Why I Chose Pitt:
I may be a California girl, but when I interviewed here at Pitt I felt that I was home. I completely fell in love with the city of Pittsburgh, and I was swept away by the friendliness and enthusiasm of the students and faculty. Pitt’s program has the clinical diversity and research emphasis I was looking for, and I appreciated the professionalism, organization, and opportunities unique to such a well-established program. The accessibility of rotation sites and ability to work while pursuing my degree were added bonuses that helped seal the deal.
Background: Special Education Instructional Assistant, undergraduate research assistant in both Environmental Toxicology and Psychology research labs, genetics course tutor
Work position: Clinical Research Assistant at TRiNDS (Therapeutic Research in Neuromuscular Disorders Solutions)
Julia Stone (B.S. in Genetics, minor in Psychology, University of California, Davis 2014)

Julia Verbiar

Why Choose Pitt:
Having fallen in love with Pittsburgh during undergrad, I was thrilled that Pitt’s Genetic Counseling Graduate Program offers an incredible opportunity to learn in a unique, well-established, and well-connected environment. I look forward to doing rotations in world renowned health care systems of UPMC and AHN. I like how the program is structured to front load coursework and you can tailor your coursework in the Graduate School of Public Health to provide a unique perspective on the field. I also appreciate how the program leadership understand that grad school is expensive and encourage students to obtain paid work positions they can use for their thesis project.
Background: Undergraduate Molecular Biology Researcher, Patient Navigation Volunteer, Domestic Violence Advocate, Colleges Against Cancer Vice President, Undergraduate TA for Introductory Genetics Course, Summer Institute for Training in Biostatistics Participant, Genetic Counseling Intern
Work Position: Research Assistant in the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics
Julia Verbiar (BS Major in Molecular Biology, Minor in Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh, 2016)

Kaitlin Sullivan

Why I chose Pitt:
I chose the Pitt program partly because of its situation in the School of Public Health and larger size, which allow for collaboration and a variety of perspectives. I also liked the timing of rotations and the balance between classes and rotations. The ability to stay in Pittsburgh for all our rotations was also hugely important, as well as the variety of hospital and medical systems. Of course, the city itself was a big draw, with its amazing museums, parks, and general culture!
Background: Research technician and lab manager in neuroscience and psychiatry labs, volunteer tutoring and childcare (Salvation Army Emergency Women and Children’s Shelter), volunteering in service fraternity (Alpha Phi Omega).
Work position: Research Assistant for Dr. Lisa Pan
Kaitlin Sullivan (B.S. Biology, Minor in Anthropology, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, 2015)

Megan Hager

Why I chose Pitt:
 One of the most striking things about Pitt is how well students, faculty and staff get along. Having a collaborative work environment is very important to me, and was a large factor in my decision-making process. I also like that I can pursue the MS/MPH dual degree program, because I believe it will allow me to better help my future clients. To top it off, Pittsburgh is a great city with a rich history, so I was very excited to move here.
Background: Genetic Counseling Intern (Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital of Indianapolis), Genetic Counseling Shadowing (University of Missouri – Women’s and Children’s Hospital, St. Vincent Hospital of Indianapolis), Life Skills Instructor for Adults with Mental Illness (Aspire Indiana), Ronald McDonald House (Front Desk Volunteer), Member of a Community Service Sorority (Little Sisters of the Gold Rose).
Work Position: Genetic Counseling Program Teaching Assistant
Megan Hager (B.S. Major in Biological Sciences, B.A. Major in Spanish, University of Missouri, 2015)

Seth Lascurain

Why I chose Pitt:
I chose Pitt because the program is well established and has stood the test of time, but does not rest on tradition too much. The program remains innovative in structure, content, and execution by listening to its students and faculty and making regular improvements based on their feedback. Pitt also offers an attractive dual degree in Public Health Genetics, as well as a host of certificate programs and even a Doctoral option for those wanting to continue their education even further. All that, housed in the city of Pittsburgh, with free public transit… the choice was easy.
Background: Genetic counselor shadowing (Magee-Women's Hospital, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh), Undergraduate research in Cognitive Psychology (Edinboro University), Parent to three wonderful children (one with special needs).
Work Position: Genetic Counseling Assistant at Magee Womens Hospital
Seth Lascurain (B.S. in Psychology, Edinboro University 2015)

THE CLASS OF 2017 CHOSE PITT BECAUSE...

 

Anna Zakas Genetic Counseling Student PhotoWhy I chose Pitt: I chose Pitt because I liked the structure of the program, which has a larger class size, and the ability to pursue a dual-degree in Public Health. I also really appreciated the easy accessibility to all of the rotation sites around the city, enabling students to explore a more diverse range of cases.
Background: Call Specialist of the National Suicide Lifeline and Youth Crisis Hotline, Certified Mental Health First Aid provider, HIV/STI Student Test Counselor at the Ohio State University.
Work position: Genetic Counselor Student Worker at the UPMC Hereditary GI Cancer Program
Anna Zakas (B.S. Major in Biology, Minor in English, Ohio State University, 2014)


Brooke Hornak Genetic Counseling Student PhotoWhy I chose Pitt: The program at Pitt had a variety of great things to offer that sparked my interest. I would have to say my favorite part of the Pitt program is the dual degree program because genetic counseling is becoming more and more of a public health matter. I was also a fan of the classes being held in the first year, with the opportunity to fill the second year with clinical rotations in not only one, but two different health care systems.
Background: Genetic counseling shadowing (Magee-Womens Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Ohio State Breast Cancer Center, and WVU Medical Center), research assistant, Suicide Prevention Services (hotline volunteer).
Work Position: Genetic Counseling Student Worker at the Children's Sickle Cell Foundation
Brooke Hornak (B.S. Major in Molecular Genetics, Minor in Public Health, the Ohio State University, 2015)


Bryony Lynch Genetic Counseling StudentWhy I chose Pitt: Pitt's program stood out to me for many reasons. It is one of the oldest programs around, which gives the advantage of having a well-polished curriculum and an extensive alumni network. The program is also housed in the Department of Public Health, which allows students to uniquely enhance their perspective on the direction of the field of genetics as a whole while having the option to earn a dual MS/MPH degree. Having the opportunity to work in a research position while simultaneously collecting data for a thesis and being paid is an added bonus.
Background: Research Technician (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle), Volunteer Case Manager (Luca John Foundation), Volunteer Wig Fitter (Seattle Cancer Care Alliance), Undergraduate Researcher (University of Washington), Volunteer Undergraduate Research Leader (University of Washington)
Work Position: Graduate Student Researcher in the Medical Genetics Department at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
Bryony Lynch (B.S. Biology, University of Washington, 2013)


Christine Munro Genetic Counseling StudentWhy I chose Pitt: I chose Pitt because of its unique but well established program. I loved that the program is housed within the school of public health, and I was excited by the dual degree option. In addition to the unique program, I chose Pittsburgh because of its large health network. The program has a great partnership with many Pittsburgh hospitals/clinics, and this creates a well-rounded learning experience for students.
Background: Genetic counseling assistant with the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, UPMC Health Plan intern (shared decision making tools for lung cancer screening), outreach worker with the Canadian Cancer Society, long term care recreation volunteer, research assistant with Operation Wallacea (Landscape Genetics).
Work Position: Graduate Student Researcher in the Medical Genetics Department at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Christine Munro (B.Sc. Honours in Molecular Biology and Genetics, McMaster University, 2013)


Emily Griffenkranz Genetic Counseling StudentWhy I chose Pitt: As one of the oldest programs, Pitt had not only a great reputation in the field, but also everything I was looking for. There are numerous and varied clinical rotation opportunities, all nearby. Most students find paid research positions that can be used towards their thesis. Plus the opportunity for a Dual MPH degree.
Background: Volunteer in a molecular biology research lab, intern with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Biology/DNA section, member of a community service fraternity - Alpha Phi Omega, Alzheimer's Project volunteer.
Work Position: Genetic Counseling Program Teaching Assistant
Emily Griffenkranz (B.S. Biological Science, Florida State University, 2014)


Emily Massiello Genetic Counseling StudentWhy I chose Pitt: The program at Pittsburgh is so strongly established, being the second oldest genetic counseling program in the country. Its reputation is well known, giving its students the opportunity to find work anywhere after graduation. I was also really excited by the prospect of moving to the city itself. Pittsburgh is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, with world-renowned hospitals where students get to hone their skills. Finally, the enthusiasm that the faculty and students held for the program was infectious, and I couldn’t help but feel that it would be a good fit!
Background: HIV/AIDS hotline, shadow for special needs children, former assistant director of MAYO/CABLE youth groups, volunteer EMT for student ambulance corps, teaching assistant for Intro to Biology
Work Position: TBD
Emily Massiello (B.S. in Zoology, State University of New York at Oswego, 2014)


Kavitha Kolla Genetic Counseling StudentWhy I chose Pitt:  I chose Pitt because of all of the opportunities available through the program and the university, such as the dual degree program, the possibility of doing a rotation abroad or a specialty rotation, and the variety of research projects.  I also liked the structure of the program, in which the first year is devoted to classes and the second year is divided into 11 clinical rotations. 
Background: Tubman Family Crisis Center community advocate, research assistant in developmental biology lab, Welcome Week
(freshmen orientation) leader.
Work Position: Graduate Student Researcher in Magee Women's Research Institute
Kavitha Kolla (B.S. Major in Genetics, Minor in Psychology, University of Minnesota, 2015)


Leslie Walsh Genetic Counseling StudentWhy I chose Pitt:  I chose Pitt for Pittsburgh! Pittsburgh has both a small town and big city feel, with so many opportunities and attractions.  More importantly, though, the university and its surrounding hospitals have fantastic reputations, making Pittsburgh one of the best places to study health-related sciences. I also really appreciate that the genetic counseling program is set up in such a way that the students can work in order to facilitate their thesis project.
Background: TA for a crime scene investigation course, undergraduate research in forensic science, student mentor, hospital
volunteer, laboratory manager at GeneDx.
Work position: Senior analyst, GeneDx
Leslie Walsh (B.S. in Forensic Science, Pennsylvania State University 2010)


Michelle Morrow Genetic Counseling StudentWhy I chose Pitt: As a Pittsburgh resident and through my volunteer work in cancer genetics at Magee-Womens Hospital, I had the opportunity to talk at length with faculty, graduates, and current students of the genetic counseling program. I learned firsthand that Pitt offered a winning combination: extensive clinical experience, a forward-thinking curriculum, a public health emphasis, and a supportive, collegial environment.
Background: My past work experiences include laboratory research, behavior specialist at a residential facility for individuals with developmental disabilities, and volunteer positions at a youth crisis center, a domestic violence hotline, and Magee’s cancer genetics program.
Work Position: Cutis Laxa Study Coordinator, responsible for recruiting and consenting research subjects, organizing research clinics, and serving as liaison for patients, clinical contacts, and the laboratory research team.
Michelle Morrow (B.S. Psychology, Ohio State University, 1992; Ph.D. Neuroscience, Northwestern University, 2006)


Samantha WesolyWhy I chose Pitt: Pitt’s program is unique in that students primarily take classes in the first year and do clinical work in the second year. This design perfectly fit my learning style, and it encourages us to be confident in our knowledge when moving to clinical rotations. Also, we see so many different cases throughout our second year that allow us to explore many different specialty options. Another big selling point is the city of Pittsburgh itself! This city is roaring with culture, and there is always something to do!
Background: Respite work for clients with genetic disorders, volunteer advocate for sexual assault crisis center, undergraduate research assistant for Early Detection of Autism, Special Olympics coach
Work Position: Research assistant at the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics
Samantha Wesoly (B.S. Major in Molecular and Cell Biology, Minor in Psychology, University of Connecticut, 2014)


Sara Blankenship Genetic Counseling StudentWhy I chose Pitt: I chose Pitt because I like that students focus on the coursework in the first year so they have all the knowledge to move forward with clinical rotations in year two. There are many options for clinical rotations including diverse sub specialty clinics. Students really get the chance to observe a variety of cases! The program is a part of the School of Public Health and I believe this gives students a different perspective of how genetic counseling fits into the field of public health.
Background: Research associate cardiovascular and obesity genetics lab (microarray analysis and SNP qPCR), Research associate/teaching assistant Experimental Molecular Genetics and Experimental Biochemistry laboratory courses Carnegie Mellon University.
Work position: Graduate Student Researcher in the Medical Genetics Department at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
Sara Blankenship (B.A. Major in Biology, Washington and Jefferson College, 2011)

 


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