Students and Alumni
FIRST YEAR STUDENTS
Sarah is originally from New Jersey but moved to upstate New York to attend Binghamton University. Prior to graduating in 2013 cum laude, she studied Psychology with a minor in Biological Anthropology. She first learned about genetic counseling in a Human Genetics course. Soon after, she began shadowing a group of prenatal genetic counselors and realized that this was the path for her. As an undergraduate, Sarah was a research assistant at the Binghamton Anxiety Clinic, where she learned about treatment and pathology of anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Also, she worked at Binghamton’s student-run crisis hotline as a volunteer crisis counselor and later became Training Coordinator for the hotline. Here in Boston, Sarah is a volunteer with Samaritans Crisis Hotline. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys cake decorating (and cake eating), skiing, traveling, spending time outdoors and drawing pedigrees for any friend or family member who will allow her to do so.
Casie is originally from Rhode Island and has spent the past two years living and working here in Boston. Before settling back in New England, she received her B.S with a major in Biology from Davidson College in North Carolina. At Davidson, Casie discovered her love for genetics while working in a Drosophila lab and decided to continue her molecular research post-graduation with a position in a colorectal cancer genetics lab at Massachusetts General Hospital. During her time at MGH, she took advantage of shadowing some of the wonderful genetic counselors there, in addition to volunteering for a family crisis helpline. While she loved her time in the lab, and continues to work there part time, Casie is excited to switch gears and begin her career as a genetic counselor! In her spare time, she enjoys any craft project she can get her hands on, cheering on the Boston sports teams, singing along to Boston’s only country radio station, and cooking/baking (…but mostly eating) with her roommates!
Lauren was born, raised, and currently resides in Reading, Massachusetts just 20 minutes or so north of Boston. She ventured down south to Virginia Tech where she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry in 2013. During her time at Virginia Tech she was involved with the Special Olympics of southwest Virginia and Best Buddies. She was also an active member of SAVES (Sexual Assault Violence Education by Students) and biochemistry club. After participating in summer internships in the drug discovery pharmaceutical realm Lauren realized her chatterbox personality was better suited to a career with more patient contact. Lauren was drawn to the profession of genetic counseling because it was able to bridge her love of biochemistry and genetics with her passion for advocating for those with disabilities. Lauren was excited to head back up north to Boston to be closer to her two dogs Tuukka and Chara. Both dogs are named after some of her favorite players on her beloved Boston Bruins. In her free time she enjoys rooting for the Boston Bruins, cheering on the Boston Red Sox, following the Virginia Tech Hokies, watching Law & Order, and spending time with her family and adorable puppies.
Alex is originally from Chicago, IL but has lived long enough in Boston to consider it his second home. Interestingly, Alex is a Boston University lifer, receiving a B.A. in Biology and a minor in Psychology in 2010. After graduation, he found a position within Boston University Medical Center’s Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases researching vaccine models against otitis media (ear infections) and trying to identify and quantify bacteria taken from nasal swabs via qPCR. His interest in genetic counseling began after attending a program seminar while patiently waiting to complete an experiment, and realized it was the perfect career for him ever since. Alex has also been a volunteer hotline counselor for the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts and an active participant in BU’s Community Service Center. In his spare time he enjoys playing tennis, reading, cheering for the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox (in that order), and obsessing over his fantasy football lineups.
Amy’s interest in counseling began with her experience providing direct care and advocating for adult women with physical and intellectual disabilities at the ARC. She graduated from University of Richmond in 2010 with majors in biology and public health, and then moved to Baltimore to take part in graduate studies and HIV genomic research at Johns Hopkins University. After learning about genetic counseling she decided to move home to Boston to work in a diagnostic genetics lab at Boston University. Her interest in ethics and genetics led her to complete a Masters in Public Heath from BU with an emphasis in Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights. She completed her practicum at Children’s Health Watch in the Pediatric ER, an experience that allowed her to engage with the community at BMC. In her free time, she loves doing DIY projects with her boyfriend, Andrew, hiking and boating with family, watching documentaries, and exploring beautiful Boston!
A lifelong Virginian, Kelsey grew up in Roanoke, VA and graduated from the College of William & Mary in 2012 with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Anthropology. After graduating, she decided to stay in Williamsburg for another year to complete additional prerequisites for graduate school and work in a local restaurant. As an undergrad, she volunteered with a health outreach education group as a sexual assault peer advocate and interned for a non-profit that advocates for abused or neglected children. Additionally, she served as director of a mentoring organization that helps ensure a successful academic transition for new W&M students and mastered the art of walking backwards as a campus tour guide. After fostering a strong interest in psychology and genetics as an undergrad, her passion for genetic counseling was solidified when she shadowed prenatal and cancer genetic counselors. In her spare time she enjoys playing guitar, napping, watching movies, and exploring the amazing city of Boston!
Born and raised in California, Erika decided to leave the golden coast for the wonders of Boston. She first found her love for genetics while studying biological anthropology and nutrition at Central Washington University. After college, Erika was lucky enough to find a job at Ambry Genetics in Aliso Viejo, CA. Through Ambry, Erika first observed genetic counselors in their natural habitat and decided this was the job for her. Once she began shadowing cancer genetic counselors at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, CA, she found she loved the roles genetic counselors play in and out of the lab. Although genetics is her primary focus, she felt compelled to give back to the community. After completing a 40 hour domestic violence training program at the Women’s Transitional Living Center in Fullerton, CA, she volunteered to spend a couple months helping women start fresh after abusive relationships. She is thrilled to be continuing on her professional journey and there couldn’t be a better place for her than Boston University. When she isn’t working, Erika enjoys cooking with friends, hiking nearby trails, and puns about science.
Hillary’s family moved 5 times before she was in first grade, but they have been settled in Fairfax, Virginia since. She attended University of Delaware where she graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Biology. She discovered genetic counseling in an introductory human genetics class as an undecided freshman and found it was the perfect combination of her interests. As an undergraduate, Hillary was a part of Resident Student Association for two years and decided to use her leadership experience to co-found Active Minds at UD, an advocacy group to eliminate the stigma associated with mental health. She held an internship at Planned Parenthood where she was the designated support for the women that came into the clinic. Hillary was also a research assistant in her professor’s Behavioral Epigenetic Lab studying the effects of different maternal care behaviors on gene expression in rat brains. Hillary planned to move to Boston at some point in her life and has been enjoying the city and everything it has to offer. In her free time, Hillary enjoys teaching herself to play guitar (mostly repeating the chords for Fast Car), running, and people watching at her hostess position at Otto Pizza.
SECOND YEAR STUDENTS
Phil is a Massachusetts native, having grown up 25 minutes south of Boston in Stoughton, before attending Northeastern University and living in the city for four blissful years. He currently lives back at home in Stoughton, and is happy to save some cash, to live close to his wonderful girlfriend Michelle, and to have a generally consistent supply of food. At Northeastern, Phil received his BS in Biochemistry with a minor in Psychology, and completed co-op semesters of full time work at both the American Red Cross HLA Typing Lab and the Boston Children’s Hospital Program in Genomics. While working at Children’s he really cemented his interest in genetic counseling, after helping recruit and enroll patients in a whole genome sequencing research biorepository. Now with a year at BU nearly completed he is thrilled to have realized he made the right decision, along with a bunch of great new friends. In his spare time, he enjoys being frustrated by Boston sports, cooking, seeing new movies, and sleeping in whenever possible.
A native New Yorker, Tessa officially considers herself a Boston transplant. She lives in Somerville with her husband, Hamo, and their dog, Baxter. She received her Bachelors of Science in Biological Sciences & Athletic Medicine from the University of Vermont in 2003. She’s followed a windy career path, most recently working as the Manager of Clinical Outreach at Edimer Pharmaceuticals, focusing on the treatment of a rare genetic disorder X-linked Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia. During her work at Edimer, Tessa first discovered and truly understood the role of genetic counselors. As she learned more she felt she found the career she’d been looking for all along! When not thinking about genetics some of her favorite things are: yoga, biking or skiing depending on the seasons, baking treats and most of all drinking a really great cup of coffee.
Elizabeth is originally from Iowa but currently lives in Brookline, MA, a state that is also cold but has fewer tornados. Elizabeth graduated from Connecticut College in 2012 with a self-designed major in Genetics (the liberal arts colleges let you do that kind of thing) that she used to pursue the goal she’d had since freshman year of being a genetic counselor. Elizabeth speaks German and was on the ski racing team, synchronized skating team and president of an improv comedy group during college. She has worked on Cockayne Syndrome research at Children’s Hospital Boston and interned at a non-profit in Cambridge where she organized and ran a summer conference event for teens with genetic and metabolic disorders. Other hobbies and accomplishments include writing strange haikus and eating 14 cupcakes in one day.
Elizabeth grew up in Atlanta, GA. Upon graduating from high school, she decided to ditch the hot and sweaty southern summers for the snowy New England winters. She graduated from Boston College in 2010 with a B.S. in Biology. Not to be limited to just the sciences, Elizabeth was a four year member of the Boston College Rugby Team and worked as a job coach for a gentleman with Fragile X. After graduating, Elizabeth worked for a local non-profit where she performed case management to aid in the prevention of substance abuse in Boston Public Schools. She decided to pursue a degree in genetic counseling because she felt it was the perfect blend of healthcare and psychosocial issues. When she is not spending time contemplating the complexities of the human genome, Elizabeth swims, pursues the perfect book to read, paints-by-number, and volunteers with Special Olympics of Massachusetts.
Shannon is a Colorado native who grew up with a love for the outdoors. She spends her time doing yoga, hiking, camping, climbing, biking, cooking, and going to concerts. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a major in Psychology and minor in Biology. Having learned of genetic counseling from her high school biology teacher, Shannon started shadowing genetic counselors early on and knew it was the path for her. During her time at the University of Colorado, she worked as a research assistant for her professor in psychology and neuroscience. She also worked as a rape crisis counselor, a helping aide for children with special needs, a nanny, and an intern for a cancer genetic counselor in Denver, Colorado. After graduation, she moved with her boyfriend and their two fish to Seattle, where she volunteered with the genetic counseling team at the University of Washington, and worked at local restaurant. She and her boyfriend fell in love with Seattle and discovered it offered more of everything they loved about Colorado AND seafood as well as the best coffee and donuts ever!
Sam has lived all across the US, but her family currently resides in a suburb outside of Baltimore. She graduated with honors from Gettysburg College in 2012 with a B.S. in Biology. During her time at Gettysburg, Sam was a member of Delta Gamma, a volunteer mentor, and a part of an a cappella group appropriately named the “Four Scores”. She also spent a semester abroad in Copenhagen where she studied Medical Practice and Policy, and became sufficiently prepared for the chilly Boston winters. Over the past several summers Sam interned at the Ludwig Center for Cancer Research at Johns Hopkins where she developed a comprehensive database of human tumor mutations and correlated these mutations with specific therapies, prognostic and pharmacogenomics features. In her abundant spare time she enjoys traveling, shopping, experimenting with recipes from her numerous Giada deLaurentis cookbooks, and trying to figure out which genetic disorder has caused her left iris coloboma.
Sheila grew up in the small town of Birdsboro, Pennsylvania. She attended the Pennsylvania State University, where she received her Bachelors of Science in Nutritional Sciences and a minor in Biology. At Penn State, she engaged in research in neuroscience and epigenetics as a research assistant and laboratory technician for 3 years for the university’s Department of Biobehavioral Health. Upon graduation in 2011, she continued to pursue this path with a behavioral genetics fellowship with the National Institutes of Health at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in Maryland. There, Sheila had the wonderful (and adorable) opportunity of fostering baby monkeys. Though passionate about genetics research, she yearned for a better balance of working with and helping people through the rewarding field of genetic counseling. Sheila has since then fallen in love with Boston (yes, including its winters) and its program! In her free time, she enjoys running throughout the streets of Boston, cycling, playing racquetball and squash, being a health foodie, and watching movies.
Lilly grew up in Cambridge, MA and moved back after college to find it was a great place for 20-somethings too! She now lives there with her partner, Brian, and their dog RayRay. She graduated from Skidmore College in 2007 with a major in Chemistry and a concentration in Biochemistry. After college, she worked as a nanny and a substitute teacher at Perkins School for the Blind until finding a position at MIT in an epigenetics lab, where she worked for five years as a lab manager before going back to school. Genetic counseling drew Lilly in because it was the perfect intersection between healthcare, education, science and advocacy. Lilly is also a volunteer at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center doing outreach, and she loves to feel connected to her community through this challenging but rewarding avenue. In her free time she likes to dance, run along the Charles River, listen to live music, make and look at art, and go to the numerous festivals in the area. Her favorite festival is an annual activist street marching band extravaganza called Honk!
Nadine Channaoui – Boston, MA
Laura Fisher – Buffalo, NY
Nan Doyle – Boston, MA
Carmelina Heydrich – Boston, MA
Marie Discenza – Boston, MA
Erica Vaccari – Franklin Lakes, NJ
Lindsay Conant – Portland, OR
CLASS OF 2012
Shana White – Boston, MA
Natalie Vena – Atlanta, GA
Laurel Calderwood – Boston, MA
Tabitha Abrazinski – Chicago, IL
Kristin Levandoski – Boston, MA
Jennifer Walsh – Providence, RI
Andrea Muirhead – Boston, MA
CLASS OF 2011
Laura Fuerstman – Arlington, MA
Meg Sheehan – New York, NY
Kat Lafferty – Boston, MA
AJ Stuenkel – Aliso Viejo, CA
Erin Hoffman – Boston, MA
Laura Benedict – Rockville, MD
Diana Toledo – Boston, MA
CLASS OF 2010
Mari Morse – Portland, OR
Jilliane Miller Sotelo – Worcester, MA
Kunal Sanghavi – Baltimore, MD
Erin Thorpe – Boston, MA
Katharine Coles – Houston, TX
Jennifer Hardt Boomsma– Honolulu, HI
Jocelyn Davie – Hanford, CA