Current Students: Class of 2017

Here’s a glimpse of our second-year students. We asked if there was anything in particular during their first year of grad school that stands out as memorable (eg, intersession, family pals, community field placement). We’ve also included the topic of their Master’s thesis.


AMAN graduated from University of Western Ontario with a Diploma in Clinical Trials Management and a BSc in Genetics and Medical Cell Biology. She volunteered with Prenatal Diagnosis and Medical Genetics Program, Sexual Assault Centre London and Ontario Special Olympics.

“The most memorable experience of my first year of grad school was the Family Pals program. Although I had exposure to disability in the past through the Special Olympics, I had never had the opportunity to interact with the entire family on a personal level. The family I was paired with allowed me into their lives and gave me a better understanding of their experience with receiving and living with a genetic diagnosis. The experience was so amazing and valuable, it actually inspired my thesis!

Thesis Topic: What factors influence fathers’ support-seeking behaviors and their satisfaction with these support networks?


ELIZABETH graduated from Loras College with a BS in Biology and Spanish. She volunteered with Community HealthCorps/Americorps as a Spanish Medical Interpreter, Girls on the Run, Children’s Hospital and Riverview Center Hotline.

“I had a really great experience in the Infant/Toddler Program at Perkins School for the Blind. I really bonded with the little girl I was assigned to and decided to stay on into our second semester until she graduated.”

Thesis Topic: What are the parent experiences with the diagnostic process and aftermath of a dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Jackie -Class of 2017

JACKIE graduated from McMaster University with an HBSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics and has an MSc from Queen’s University in Pathology and Molecular Medicine. She volunteered at IMALIVE – Suicide and Crisis Online Chatline.

“For me, it was the opportunity Brandeis provides in the form of the community field placement. This placement gave me the opportunity to connect with students at the Cotting School, a school in Lexington, MA that provides a positive school environment for students with intellectual and physical disabilities. I was placed in a high school class of 7 students, and was given the honour of getting to know them over the four months of my placement. I thought the perspective it allowed me to gain, regarding working with those with disabilities and gaining more awareness, was invaluable.”

Thesis Topic: What are parents of children with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy finding online and how has it helped them?

John-Class of 2017

JOHN graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a BS in Biology and Biotechnology. He volunteered at Samaritans, a suicide hotline.

“My community field placement at the League School of Greater Boston was an excellent experience! I learned from both the instructors and the students of the League School about the theory and practice of the SCERTS model for students on the autism spectrum. The League School emphasizes that each student is unique and I was able to personally observe the successes of their educational system over the semester that I observed there. My community field placement has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my time at Brandeis!”

Thesis Topic: How do current GC programs handle education about variant interpretation and how do recent graduates use this knowledge?
Katie-Class of 2017

KATIE graduated from University of Virginia with a BA in Biology and Spanish. She volunteered at the Pregnancy Center of Central Virginia and assisted women in crisis pregnancies.

“I really enjoyed the community field placement my first year. It gives you great practice at interacting with people with disabilities. And the more you go, the less you see the people as “people with disabilities” and the more you see them as simply differently abled people.”

Thesis Topic: What is the experience of prenatal genetic counselors that work in Catholic hospitals?

Meera-Class of 2017

MEERA graduated from University of Mumbai with a BE in Biotechnology. She volunteered at National Service Scheme (women empowerment programs), Echoing Healthy Ageing (dementia awareness) and Samaritans Mumbai suicide prevention helpline.

“My community fieldwork placement (at Vinfen adult day habilitation center) experience was one of my favourite times from first year of grad. school, partly because it gave me opportunity to meet with so many people; also that I learnt for the first time so closely, how people with disabilities are actually more like us than different.”

Meera’s thesis poses this question: What factors influence the surveillance decisions of unaffected young (20-30 year-old) female BRCA mutation carriers?

Nicole-Class of 2017

NICOLE graduated from University of Western Ontario with a HBS in Genetics. She volunteered at the Prenatal Diagnosis Clinic at McMaster University Medical Centre, a Call Volunteer at the London District Distress Centre and with Intervarsity’s Global Urban Partnership

“What stood out to me during my first year at Brandeis were our guest speakers. Individuals and families who had a child with a genetic disorder or had a genetic disorder themselves were invited throughout the year to talk about their experiences. I was struck by one woman in particular who’s life had been touched by Huntington’s disease. Her story strongly affirmed for me that everything that we were learning in class and all the experiences that Brandeis was providing for me (whether that be through our fieldwork observations, our reading list, guest speakers, etc) are invaluable to my training as a future genetic counselor. That story will stick with me for a long while yet and serve as a reminder that there is a life, a family, a history, a legacy, behind the patient that I’m talking to.”

Thesis Topic: What is the experience and challenges of cancer genetic counselors when counseling dying patients?

Nina-Class of 2017

NINA graduated from Fairfield University with a BS in Biology. She volunteered with the Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita, Stratford School District STRIVE Program and Camp Sunshine.

“All of the incredible people I met – faculty, GCs, wonderful speakers, and my truly amazing classmates – were what made the first year of grad school so memorable for me.”

Thesis Topic: How does a diagnosis of Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) impact the lives of individuals aged 18-25?

Sara-Class of 2017

SARAH graduated from New York University with a BA in Environmental Science. She volunteered with National Eating Disorder Association, Autism Spectrum Disorder Son-Rise Program and Superhero Clubhouse Theater Company.

During our first year, we were given the opportunity to visit the NICU with Judy Jackson at South Shore Hospital.  While we were there, we got to see the babies in the NICU and hear from the parents who shared their unique stories with us.  It was so moving to see how small the babies were and to see how much care and attention they needed to survive.  It was also inspiring to hear about the impact and support the genetic counselors were able to provide for these families.”

Thesis Topic: What do college career advisors know about genetic counseling?

Stephanie-Class of 2017

STEPHANIE graduated from University of Connecticut with a BS in Molecular and Cell Biology and has a MS from Thomas Jefferson University in Cell and Developmental Biology. She volunteered for Planned Parenthood.

“The most memorable aspect of my first year at Brandeis is my community placement at The Cotting School, a private school which supports the strengths of students with various forms of disability.  It was such a privilege to be given to a chance to work with the students, learn from them, and even develop lasting friendships.”

Thesis Topic: What knowledge do genetic counselors have regarding conflicts of interest (COIs)? Can they identify COIs and how do they manage them?