DWinchester1Major: Genetics

Minor: Psychology

Certificate in Genetic Counseling

Graduation Year: 2020

How did you decide on your major?

When I was in high school, I had a biology project in which everyone was given a genetic disorder or birth defect to research. We had to take care of an egg ‘baby’ afflicted with the disorder, write a journal detailing all daily activities, therapies, and medications completed, and write a letter explaining the disorder from the perspective of a parent, doctor, or genetic counselor. It was the first time I had heard about genetic counseling, and, eager to learn more about this intriguing occupation, I decided to learn more. From that point, I became determined to obtain an education in genetics in order to become a fantastic genetic counselor. Not many universities have a genetics major, so I was particularly drawn to Rutgers, as they had an established program with a remarkable faculty.

What is it about your chosen field (and the department) that appeals to you?

As a rare disease patient myself, I have been fortunate enough to receive top-notch healthcare from experts in the genetics and endocrinology field. As I delved into patient advocacy and began gathering stories from other patients, I learned that there are many patients who unfortunately do not receive decent healthcare. Many of these patients do not have the fortune of meeting with someone like a genetic counselor, whose role is to provide psychosocial support through the testing and diagnosis process. Rutgers offers so many incredible courses and opportunities that have prepared me for a profession in genetic counseling. I was particularly drawn to Rutgers because of their Genetic Counseling Certificate program, through which I was able to attend a full semester rotation in a genetic counseling clinic. Other courses, such as ELSI and Human Genetics have also taught me so much about what it takes to be an excellent genetic counselor.

Do you have a favorite class/professor within your major?DWinchester2

I thoroughly enjoyed my ELSI class – Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications in Genetics. In this course, with Dr. Schindler, students are encouraged to discuss controversial or complex topics, such as using assisted reproductive technologies, BRCA testing, and Direct-to-Consumer testing. I am a very open-minded, curious person, and I enjoyed learning about the different opinions held regarding these topics – everyone in my class had unique insights that helped me understand each topic on a deeper level.

What are your favorite academic experiences outside of your major?

In high school, I always enjoyed my English class, so I was eager to take a couple of literature classes at Rutgers. One of my favorite courses was a signature course, The Coming Apocalypse. This course focuses on apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic novels, films, documentaries, and stories that narrate the world’s end, such as Heart of Darkness, Rosemary’s Baby, or Watchmen. It was such a fascinating course that has stuck with me throughout my years at Rutgers, and encouraged me to think more critically about story telling and narration.

What are your other Rutgers activities?

I am also involved with the Rutgers’ Jewish community, and have taken active roles in Rutgers’ Hillel and Chabad on campus. I was also part of Scarlet Listener’s, a crisis counseling hotline and active listening group.

What are your plans following graduation?

Next year I will be attending The Master of Science in Genetic Counseling Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. I’m eager to apply everything I learned at Rutgers to my graduate studies, and eventually my genetic counseling career!

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