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Genetic Counseling Graduate Program

Class of 2023

GCGP Students

Fern Alagala

Fern Alagala (she/her)

I’m excited to be a genetic counselor because I can connect on a personal level with patients who may have fears about falling through the cracks of our medical system. Through my family and my own experiences, I know health care can be complicated, so I want to make that process easier and more accessible for everyone.

I enjoy live concerts, watercolor and nature. However, the majority of my time revolves around culinary endeavors and my dog, Benny.

Kirk Barber

Kirk Barber (he/him)

I chose the field of genetic counseling because it combined my passions of getting to work with people, teaching genetics and working for something larger than myself. The work of genetic counseling is very interesting to me because I have the privilege of helping empower individuals and families to make informed decisions. I am honored and thrilled to be a part of the first UW GCGP cohort!

Stan Birdsong

Stan Birdsong (he/him)

I'm excited to be a genetic counselor to help guide patients through the ever-evolving field of genetics and all it can do for us.

I love ultimate frisbee. It is somewhere where I can put my energy and drive, and scratches my itch for competition. I'm excited to start playing again as everything reopens.

Brenna Boyd

Brenna Boyd (she/her)

Genetic counseling is a natural continuation of my varied career and a coalescence of my core interests and values. I'm excited for the challenges of learning and developing my competencies in education, medicine and public health while engaging meaningfully with patients, collaborating with classmates and coworkers, and advancing scientific understanding. I'm honored to be a member of the UW GCGP's first cohort and partner with students and staff to advance its unique social justice and anti-racist vision through education and practice.

I am passionate about nature and love outdoor activities, including trail running, backpacking, boating, horseback riding, fly fishing and attempting to sketch and paint my surroundings, including my pets. I never travel without books.

Charlise Chen

Charlise Chen (she/her)

I chose genetic counseling because I am passionate about both advocacy and human genetics. I applied for UW GCGP because I value its focus on innovation and its commitment to dismantle racism in higher education. I am excited to be an Asian-Canadian genetic counselor in the near future and work toward diversifying the field of genetic counseling.

My favorite hobbies are building keyboards and biking around the city!

Kenzie Conner

Kenzie Conner (she/her)

I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis as a child. Living with a chronic illness has influenced my passion for helping people navigate their health journey. I look forward to genetic counseling where I can communicate a complex topic in a way that patients of all backgrounds can understand.

I enjoy hiking, reading, seeking out cozy coffee shops and visiting wineries. Seattle is the perfect place for me!

Sneha Gupta

Sneha Gupta (she/her)

Genetic counseling is the perfect fusion of my love for genetics and my passion for supporting people. I saw the importance of genetic counselors as well as the discrepancies that exist within the health care system when my aunt was diagnosed with cancer in India several years ago. I aim to both increase access to resources and contribute to a more equitable health care system. I echo UW GCGP's commitment to equity and am honored to partake in the program's mission to nurture culturally competent genetic counselors.

Paige Haas

Paige Haas (she/her)

I believe everyone deserves the ability to understand and access science that can improve their lives. As a genetic counselor, I am excited to develop my scientific communication skills and empower people to make informed decisions about their health. I was drawn to the UW GCGP due to its commitment to diversity, anti-racism and equity through the DARE Committee.

Outside of work you can find me hiking, watching reality TV and playing board games. I'm extra happy when the board games are cooperative — there are more team-based games out there than you might think!

Mady Head

Mady Head (she/her)

My desire to become a genetic counselor has evolved throughout my life. I was originally drawn to it through my experiences with my best friend’s battle with osteosarcoma. But as I educated myself on health disparities, racism and social determinants of health, I knew UW GCGP — as leaders in social change — would provide me the tools I need to bring genetic counseling to all.

I enjoy most outdoor activities: hiking, kayaking, biking and camping are definitely my favorites. Being an active member of my community is another huge part of my life — specifically in the world of mutual aid. I look forward to implementing this organizing dynamic in the field of medicine, genetic counseling and public health.

Sammy Jony

Sammy Jony (he/him)

The reason I want to become a genetic counselor is so I can work toward removing inequities that exist within our health care system. With this goal in mind, I knew UW was the right place for me. As a soon-to-be genetic counselor, I am excited to be a part of the next wave of genetic counselors who will be committed to making the profession a safe space for everyone while also advocating for underserved communities, such as the LGBTQIA2+ and Middle Eastern communities.

I am obsessed with pop music — not just top 40s but underground, up-and-coming pop music, too (Slayyyter is the next Britney Spears)! Fun fact: Sammy in Arabic means "of a higher caliber."

Priyal Panchal

Priyal Panchal (she/her)

What interested me about genetic counseling is the ability to educate people on complex medical diagnoses and translating them into words that they can understand by using accessible language. I want to be able to support and empower people and for them to take the next steps to have a happy and healthy life. Genetic counselors are patient-centered, so that people feel empowered and so that their care is specialized to their needs. UW’s GCGP aligns with my goals, and it promotes diversity and inclusiveness.

My favorite hobby is dancing, especially Indian folk dance. It helps me feel connected to my Indian culture when I practice the art of folk dance and wear the traditional clothing. I find that it is a great way to stay connected with the community and also stay active. Being from Calgary, Canada, I love to be outdoors and hike in the mountains with my dog, Laila.

Lex Powers

Lex Powers (they/them)

I can't wait to begin my career as a genetic counselor because I am passionate about both scientific communication and patient advocacy. My goal is to help others understand genetics and inheritance in a way that makes them feel reassured and cared for. I am excited to have matched with the UW GCGP because of its dedication to diversifying the field of genetic counseling.

In my spare time you can find me hiking the beautiful PNW, singing at your local karaoke bar, or playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends. I'm a big iced coffee fan and a boba tea lover — so please let me know your favorite spots!

Sunny Ren

Sunny Ren (she/her)

Genetic counseling is about teaching, advocating and learning from our patients and colleagues. Having gone through genetic counseling and testing myself, I look forward to bringing my experiences and passions full circle. I hope to honor each one of my patient's diverse stories and backgrounds to counsel them in a culturally competent manner. UW GCGP’s commitment to anti-racism and inclusivity stood out to me, and I am thrilled to be able to complete my training here.

I love to cook and you can always find me in the kitchen making some homemade dumplings or putting together a fancy charcuterie board. When traveling to new places, I always like to try some local coffee and ice cream.

Juliet Torres

Juliet Torres (she/her)

Racial disparities are a terrifying reality within the U.S. health care system. I am motivated to use my position as a Mexican American, Spanish-speaking genetic counselor to provide equitable and culturally conscious genetic counseling services to Spanish-speaking and immigrant patient populations. These patients deserve a genetic counselor who looks and speaks like them, which is a more suitable alternative than relying on a medical translator. I firmly believe UW GCGP’s commitment to anti-racism will enable me to become a social justice-oriented genetic counselor.

I have been a lifelong soccer player and athlete. Many of my hobbies include the enjoyment of moving my body in various ways in and outdoors. I also love cooking, which is why I taught my UW GCGP interview group how to make my family’s guacamole recipe!