Why Class of 2021 Chose Pitt

Mariele AnnelingWhy I chose Pitt: I chose Pitt because I felt comfortable and ready for success the first time I visited. As one of the oldest programs, I felt that Pitt had established a strong base for a wide range of opportunities for genetic counseling students. As someone with an interest in contributing to the expansion of the field both in the United States and internationally, I got the sense that this program and set of faculty would support me in accomplishing any goals I had. Pitt reflected this passion with the opportunity to complete a clinical rotation abroad and the global health certificate. I also chose Pitt because of its place in the school of public health, which I felt offered valuable perspectives, skills, and insight into a field that is constantly evolving.
Background: Clinical Research Coordinator (Weill Cornell Medicine, Gastroenterology and Hepatology), Genetic Counseling Assistant (Genetic Counseling Services, Inc.), Crisis Prevention and Support Program for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Intern (NYSTART), Cancer Genetics Lab Intern (Roswell Park Cancer Institute)

Work Position: Genetic Counselor Assistant UPMC Shadyside GI Lab

Mariele Anneling (B.A. in Biological Sciences, Minors in Creative Writing and English, University of Buffalo, 2017)

Megan CzekalskiWhy I chose Pitt: Being from the Pittsburgh area, I had the opportunity to meet with the directors of Pitt's program, current students, and genetic counselors who were Pitt alumni. It was very clear to me how dedicated the Pitt program is to training competent, well-rounded genetic counselors. The program being in the school of Public Health offered a unique and extremely relevant perspective on genetics and human health that I just couldn't find anywhere else. I loved the dynamics between the students and faculty. I was drawn to the fact that Pitt was an established program but was obviously adapting and changing as the field is evolving. The clinical rotations are easily accessible and a fantastic learning opportunity. Pittsburgh is also an amazing city with something for everybody: sports, theaters and museums, parks, and great food!
Background: Research Assistant at the Magee-Women's Research Institute, Presidential Fellow at Bucknell University, Crisis Counselor at Transitions of Pennsylvania, Volunteer at Camp Koala for Grieving Children
Work Position: TBD

Megan Czekalski (B.S. in Biology, Minor in Biochemistry, Bucknell University, 2019)

Julia GerowWhy I chose Pitt: I am so excited to begin my training as a genetic counselor as a dual degree student at the University of Pittsburgh, a program that understands and emphasizes the importance of genetics in public health. The department staff and faculty have been continuously supportive and willing to help me pursue my interests and advocate for me at every turn. The University of Pittsburgh program also has the added benefit of being in a city with so many other programs to collaborate with, such as the Medical and Pharmacy schools. Also, as someone from the Washington D.C. area, I was hoping to move away from a city, but Pittsburgh is the perfect “bite-sized” city. I’m never overwhelmed with the amount of people or traffic but I never run out of fun, new things to do.
Background: Medical Advocate and Sexual Assault Counselor (PAAR), Graduate Research Assistant Office of Child Development (University of Pittsburgh), Undergraduate Research Assistant (Kiho Lab Virginia Tech), Program Support Specialist (NIH, Primate Virology), Office of Undergraduate Research Ambassador (Virginia Tech), Undergraduate Teaching Assistant: Comparative Animal Anatomy and Physiology (Virginia Tech), Relay for Life Entertainment Committee (Virginia Tech)
Work Position: Project Coordinator Richard K Mellon Grant, Graduate Researcher Department of Family Medicine, Visual Media Consultant My Gene Counsel

Julia Gerow (B.S. in Animal and Poultry Sciences, B.S. in Agricultural Business, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2018)

Michael GoskyWhy I chose Pitt: As I began researching genetic counseling programs, the University of Pittsburgh stood out as a favorite from the get-go. Coming from Lexington, Kentucky, I was excited to visit and explore a bigger city while obtaining an education that would prepare me for a career in genetic counseling. What stood out to me the most about Pitt was the shared value professors and peers put on education. It was evident during my research into the program and my interview that Pitt has an exceptional reputation of educating excellent genetic counselors. I also liked that the genetic counseling program is located within a school of public health, so students are constantly surrounded by peers and professors with vastly different backgrounds. I’m excited to be a member of the Pitt community, and I look forward to the next few years!
Background: Crisis Text Line Volunteer (Online), UK’s Albert B. Chandler Hospital Surgery Waiting Room Volunteer, Undergraduate Student Researcher in Biochemistry (University of Kentucky), Genetic Counseling Shadowing (University of Kentucky and Saint Joseph East, Lexington, KY), Mobile Events Manager & Social Media and Marketing Coordinator (Crank & Boom, Lexington, KY)
Work Position: TBD
Michael Gosky (B.S. in Neuroscience, Minor in Biology, University of Kentucky, 2019)

Haley KulasWhy I chose Pitt: Growing up in Pittsburgh my whole life, I have always admired the innovative nature that the city's medical field has accomplished. When looking at GC programs, I was looking for places not only with the best program but also the best accessibility for a wheelchair user. Pitt had strong accessibility along with a unique program design. I liked that during the first year there is education and that the second year is dedicated to clinic and thesis work. I enjoyed the supportive nature not only from the program's director and associate director but also from the entire faculty of the Human Genetics department. I feel with extreme confidence that my peers and I will graduate with the skills needed to be exceptional Genetic Counselors.
Background: The Muscular Dystrophy Association Volunteer (Pittsburgh, PA), SPHS Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline Volunteer (Washington, PA), Genetic Counseling Internship (The Hemophilia Center Pittsburgh, PA), Genetic Counseling Shadow (Magee-Women's Hospital, Adult Muscular Dystrophy Clinic).
Work Position: TBD

Haley Kulas (B.A. in General Biology, Minor in Psychology, Washington and Jefferson College, 2018)

Ravella RakerWhy I chose Pitt: Pitt stood out to me as a program that is both incredibly supportive and collaborative. From the very beginning, it was clear to me that there are high expectations- but also a recognition that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. There really is a sense of community both within the Genetic Counseling program and among the other departments within the Graduate School of Public Health. Pitt’s interdisciplinary approach, combined with its reputation as an established program and its focus on Public Health, provides me with unparalleled opportunities to explore the many facets of genetic counseling. Additionally, I am a huge fan of Pittsburgh’s affordability, gorgeous city parks, and the great public transit system. Living in Pittsburgh has been nothing short of awesome, with endless places to explore and things to do. Personally, I am confident that Pitt was the right choice for me.
Background: Genetic Counseling Summer Intern (Baylor College of Medicine); Genetic Counseling Shadowing (Moffitt Cancer Center); Family Pal (Camp Boggy Creek); Volunteer Crisis Counselor (Crisis Text Line); Research Assistant (University of South Florida Department of Anthropology); Peer Leader in General Chemistry (University of South Florida)
Work Position: TBD

Ravella Raker (B.S. in Biomedical Science, Minor in Biological Anthropology, University of South Florida, 2018)

Madeline RedingWhy I chose Pitt Out of all the genetic counseling graduate programs, the University of Pittsburgh is the only school that offers a dual program in genetic counseling and public health genetics - and the more I learned about the field of genetic counseling, the more important a dual approach became to me. I chose Pitt because I wanted a program that combined the patient-centered focus of counseling and the big-picture approach of public health. I loved that I could work while in the program, with the possibility of incorporating the work into my thesis. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Pittsburgh is an exciting city, and that my first view was driving in through Liberty Tunnel at dusk, all the city lights shining over the river.
Background Genetic Counseling Assistant (PreventionGenetics), Crisis Text Line Volunteer (Online), Direct Care Professional (ACR Homes)
Work Position: Genetic Counseling Graduate Student Worker for the NYMAC Regional Genetics Network

Madeline Reding (B.S. in Biology, B.A. in Creative Writing, Hamline University, 2017)

Kaitlyn ScolaWhy I chose Pitt: Given the relevance of public health in genetic counseling, Pitt’s emphasis on public health training and the unique opportunity to earn a dual degree in Public Health Genetics solidified my decision to choose Pitt. During my interview, I appreciated the collaborative dynamic between faculty and students, and I could tell that the program was dedicated to training well-rounded counselors. I love that Pitt offers diverse clinical experiences with the option to rotate internationally, and that all of the rotation sites in Pittsburgh are easily accessible via public transportation. As someone who has lived in the south my entire life, the chance to live in a new city that is both fun and affordable made my decision that much easier.
Background: Metabolic Laboratory Technologist (Greenwood Genetic Center); Cancer Genetic Counseling Shadow (Greenwood Genetic Center); Mentor Coordinator (Penguin Project, Greenwood Community Theatre); Miracle League Buddy (The Greenwood Miracle League); Genetic Engineering Undergraduate Research Assistant (Clemson University); Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Research Assistant (Clemson University)
Work Position: Genetic Counseling Program Student Worker
Kaitlyn Scola (B.S. in Genetics, B.S. in Microbiology, Concentration: Biomedicine, Clemson University, 2017)

Trinity Sprague Why I chose Pitt: Pitt’s genetic counseling program initially caught my attention because of the fact that it’s not only housed in a school of public health, but is also the only program in the country that offers a dual-degree program with Public Health Genetics.  I also knew that being in a program where I would complete most of my coursework before starting clinicals would be ideal for my learning style.  My interest in the program continued to grow as I interacted with faculty at open houses and interviews and saw how invested they all were in student success.  After spending the 2018-19 year in the department as an MPH Public Health Genetics student, it became even more apparent that completing my genetic counseling education in a department that is as welcoming as Pitt’s and integrates public health and genetic counseling so effectively would be the perfect fit for me and my goals. Being a Steelers fan from outside of Baltimore, I also feel right at home here in Pittsburgh and would love to start my GC career here after graduation!
Background: Student Researcher (The Commonwealth Medical College/Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine); Adventure Activities Specialist (Camp Spearhead, SC); Direct Service Volunteer (Hospice of the Sacred Heart); Genetic Counseling Shadowing through Geisinger, UPMC and Allegheny Health Network; Crisis Textline Counselor (Online)
Work Position: Graduate Student Research Assistant, Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics (University of Pittsburgh)
Trinity Sprague (B.S. in Biology, Minors in Psychology and Chemistry, Misericordia University, 2018)

Chelsey WalshWhy I chose Pitt: It's hard to explain but out of all of the programs I considered, Pitt just fit the best. Everyone at Pitt is so welcoming, kind, and supportive. I like that the GC program is so connected to the other public health disciplines and it's great that we get to meet and connect with classmates outside of the GC program. This is one of the longest-running GC programs, and it's continuously adapting and incorporating new ideas so that students can keep up with new, upcoming challenges in the GC field. I like that clinical rotations are set up within two hospital programs so that students get to see how different health care systems run without being spread out too far. When I visited Pittsburgh, I felt right at home!
Background: Volunteer Teaching Assistant (Carle Auditory Oral School, Champaign IL), Crisis Line Volunteer (Rosecrance/Community Elements, Champaign, IL), Public Program Specialist (Champaign County Forest Preserve District, Homer, IL), Child Care Volunteer (Child Advocacy Center, Marshfield, WI), Volunteer and Life Skills Coach (The Hannah Center, Marshfield, WI), Genetic Counseling Assistant (PreventionGenetics, Marshfield, WI)
Work Position: TBD
Chelsey Walsh (B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2012)

Kaylee WilliamsWhy I chose Pitt: The University of Pittsburgh’s commitment to excellence in medicine and public health made Pitt the obvious choice for me. Pitt’s genetic counseling program is well established, and the genetic counselors in Pittsburgh that I had the pleasure to shadow were all incredible health care professionals dedicated to helping students learn. During my interview, I appreciated the sense of community that the leadership was able to foster with the students, and was excited about the program’s ability to tie a public health perspective into the curriculum. I was fortunate to spend two of my undergraduate years at the University of Pittsburgh, and staying at Pitt for my genetic counseling training was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Pittsburgh is a livable and exciting city that is rich with culture, with great resources for a training genetic counselor.
Background: CRISPR-cas9 Student Research Assistant (UPMC Cell Biology); Crisis Counselor (Crisis Text Line); Cancer and Prenatal Genetic Counseling Shadow (Magee-Womens Hospital); Teaching Assistant (Macromolecular Structure and Function); Oncology Department Volunteer (Magee-Womens Hospital); Political Action Chair (Pitt Campus Women’s Organization); Student Research in Health Disparities (University of Florida Psychology); Patient Escort and Peer Sex Educator (UF Voices for Planned Parenthood)
Work Position: TBD
Kaylee Williams (B.S. in Molecular Biology, Minor in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, 2019)