Meet Our Students
Sam AndersonUndergrad: Iowa State University, Biology, Minor: Genetics
Sam Anderson graduated from Iowa State University in 2020 with a BS in Biology and a minor in Genetics. As an undergraduate, she was actively involved in teaching and peer mentoring first-year Biology students. She also spent time as a research assistant in Dr. Johansen’s laboratory studying chromosome regulation and gene expression in Drosophila. Outside of school, she volunteered at ACCESS in Ames, Iowa with the housing team to support individuals who had experienced domestic abuse and sexual assault. Sam has worked as a Genetic Counseling Assistant at PerkinElmer Genomics and in a clinical setting at Mayo Clinic assisting both Prenatal and Cardiac Genetic Counselors. In her free time, you can find Sam playing cards with friends, trying new restaurants, or camping in state and national parks.
Courtney BromberekUndergrad: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Genetics; Certificate: Disability Rights and Services
Courtney Bromberek graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2021 with a BS in Genetics and a Certificate in Disability Rights and Services. As an undergraduate, she worked as a disability program aide at UW Madison’s office for students with disabilities. Courtney pursued her passion for advocacy even further by becoming abehavior technician through a local organization that provides Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy to children with autism and also volunteered as a tutor for local middle school students with Individualized Education Plans. After graduating, Courtney moved to Chicago and has been working as a genetic counseling assistant through NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, IL. In her free time, she enjoys walking her foster dog, reading and visiting new coffee shops.
Max ChauhanUndergrad: University of Pittsburgh, Biology, Minor: Chemistry, Social Work, and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies
Max Chauhan graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 2022 with a BS in Biology and minors in Chemistry, Social Work, and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. Following their passion for activism and advocacy, they pursued coursework related to poverty, disability rights, intersectional advocacy and biases in medical care. They have conducted research at the Van Andel Institute in Dr. Triche’s lab, where they studied germline DNA mutations, and developed a pathway to connect variants to worse phenotypes of pediatric Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Additionally, they held several educational and service-oriented positions, such as a resident assistant and senior officer for Project Potter PGH. Currently, they are a counsellor for Crisis Text Line, as well as an intern at Medneon. They enjoy puzzles, baking and film photography.
Emilia ChiribogaUndergrad: University of Missouri-Columbia, Biology and Psychology
Emilia graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2022 with a BS in Biology and Psychology. During her undergraduate career, she was able to broaden a deep-rooted passion to advocate for social justice as a Brooks Scholar. Additionally, she served as a mentor for at-risk youth in the community and as a biology and chemistry tutor for her peers at the university. Emilia began to volunteer for the Missouri Crisis Line in 2020; she continues to serve in this role as a staff member on the Chat Line. As a native Spanish speaker, she hopes to serve minority populations both during her training as a genetic counselor and throughout her career. In her spare time, Emilia enjoys traveling, baking, reading and spending time outdoors.
Melaine DiepUndergrad: Augustana College, Biology, Minor: Psychology
Melaine Diep graduated from Augustana College in 2021 with a BA in Biology and a minor in Psychology. During her time at Augustana, she was involved in Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity. An avid explorer, she spent a summer analyzing climate change effects on juniper tree and pinion pine growth in New Mexico, spontaneously climbed a fourteener in Colorado and roamed the bustling streets of Tokyo and Kyoto. After graduating, Melaine took on an assistant teacher role at an elementary school in the Chicago suburbs where she worked closely with fourth-grade and third-grade students. In her free time, she volunteers for CommUnity Food Bank and Crisis Services in Iowa City and the Trevor Project. She is passionate about plants (especially the carnivorous kind), fiber arts and video games.
Madeline DingleUndergrad: Xavier University, Biology, Minor: Chemistry, Pre-Physical Therapy, and Gender & Diversity Studies
Madeline Dingle graduated from Xavier University in 2021 with a BS in Biology and minors in Chemistry, Pre-Physical Therapy, and Gender & Diversity studies. During her undergraduate career, she worked with diverse patient populations as a hospice visitor and as a summer research assistant on an arterial stiffness study at UIC. Madeline represented Xavier as a member of the Division I track and cross country teams throughout her undergraduate education. Also during undergrad, she gained teaching experience through tutoring at a local elementary school. Madeline continued tutoring after graduation at Gigi’s playhouse in the literacy department. She gained additional counseling experience as a shelter hostess at a home for domestic violence survivors and as a crisis chat line volunteer at National Runaway Safeline.
Krystal FernandezUndergrad: University of California, Santa Cruz, Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology and Psychology
Krystal Fernandez graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2019 with a BS in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology and a BA in Psychology. During her time as an undergraduate, she was a residential assistant, volunteered at the local elementary school as well as the Homeless Garden Project, and held leadership positions in her sorority. Postgraduate, Krystal became an essential worker at a mental health clinic that served the low-income and homeless population of Sacramento. After this fulfilling position, she transitioned into being a research associate at a biopesticide company where she focused on the optimization of gene-edited microbes. In her free time, she likes to take her dog on adventures, painting and reading self-help books.
Emma HawkinsUndergrad: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Genetics and Genomics
Emma Hawkins graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2021 with a BS in Genetics and Genomics. During college she volunteered as a Health Coach through Community Health Volunteers of Madison where she conducted pre and post doctor visit consultations with patients. As a summer job she worked for Appalachia Service Project as a project and volunteer coordinator directing free home repair services in Logan, West Virginia. Following graduation, Emma moved to Juneau, Alaska to serve an Americorps year as a healthy living specialist for a youth center. During her year in Juneau, she enjoyed volunteering as an adaptive ski and snowboarding facilitator and cooking for the Juneau youth that visited the center. Although sad to be leaving the mountains, she is excited to return to her home city of Chicago
Cristal McAninchUndergrad: Oregon State University, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Minor: Chemistry and Public Health, Certificate: Medical Humanities
Cristal McAninch graduated from Oregon State University in 2020 with a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with minors in Chemistry and Public Health and a Certificate of Medical Humanities. Cristal held leadership roles within her sorority and in the greater Greek community, while also participating in other student organizations. During a summer in undergrad, Cristal researched the Ubiquitin substrate, performing in vitro assembly cloning of predicted HECT E3 Ligases in Dr. Jonathan Pruneda’s lab. After graduating, Cristal became a genetic counseling assistant in UT Southwestern’s Cancer Genetics Department. Over the past year, Cristal has also volunteered with Crisis Textline. In her free time, she enjoys going to amusement parks, reading a good Collen Hoover book, exploring new places and tending to her many plants.
Rachel MnushkinUndergrad: University of Illinois at Chicago, Biological Sciences, Minor: Spanish
Rachel Mnushkin graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2016 with a BS in Biological Sciences and a minor in Spanish. After graduating, she worked as a Junior Data Analyst for a biotech company, abstracting and analyzing data to construct the foundation of a cancer genomics database, where she discovered her interest in genetic counseling. In 2019, she joined Reproductive Genetics Innovations as a genetic counseling assistant, responsible for all intake coordination for preimplantation genetic testing for single gene disorders and structural rearrangements. She also volunteered at the National Runaway Safeline as a crisis line counselor and as an English teacher for first generation immigrants. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, playing tennis and relaxing nights in watching movies.
Amanda NietersUndergrad: University of Missouri, Columbia, Biology and Psychology
Amanda Nieters graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia in May 2020 with a BS in Biology and Psychology. During her undergrad, she completed her honors thesis with the Thomson Center for Autism and Other Neurodegenerative Disorders where she conducted research in clinical interventions for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Additionally, she worked as a genetic research assistant at BayFarm and enjoyed getting involved in her community. Passionate about genetic counseling, Amanda became a genetic counseling assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital in the Center for Cancer Risk Assessment post-graduation. Here, she assisted in developing multiple cancer genetic testing service delivery models which honed her passion for patient advocacy and access to genetic testing. Amanda enjoys trying new things, games, being outdoors and reading.
Abby TubmanUndergrad: University of Colorado Boulder, Integrative Physiology, Certificate: Public Health
Abby Tubman graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2020 with a BA in Integrative Physiology and a Certificate in Public Health. As an undergraduate, she worked for the Alpine Microbial Observatory where she helped study the impacts of Roundup on soil bacteria and chemistry during a restoration project for Colorado grassland. In addition, she worked as a resident advisor at CU. After graduating, Abby worked as a medical assistant at a dermatology practice. She also volunteered for Movement to End Sexual Assault as a hotline counselor. In her free time, she enjoys skiing, traveling and climbing.
Samantha AlmeidaUndergrad: New York University, Biology, Minor: Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies
Samantha Almeida graduated from New York University in 2022 with a BA in Biology and a minor in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. As an undergraduate, she worked as a research assistant in Dr. Rushlow’s lab studying the pioneer factor Zelda and its recruitment mechanism to the transcription sites of Zelda activated genes. She also held several leadership and teaching positions at the Jewish Center on campus, such as Social Media Chair for Keshet where she expanded her advocacy experience by cultivating open and informative programming for Jews who identify within the LGBTQ+ community. Following graduation, Samantha worked as a Behavioral Therapist, providing Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy to children on the spectrum. In her free time, Samantha enjoys musical theater, traveling, and makeup. .
Alex BlancoUndergrad: Florida State University, Biological Sciences, Minors: Chemistry and Psychology
Alex Blanco graduated from Florida State University in 2022 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and double minors in Chemistry and Psychology. As an undergraduate, Alex’s passion for counseling grew over time throughout her years of leadership with Best Buddies, Dance Marathon, the Panhellenic Community, and as Chapter President of her sorority. She worked as a Freshman Interest Group Leader, teaching students to navigate academic culture and transition to college life. During the summer of 2021, she interned with Northwestern’s Summer Experiential Workshop and with Ascension St. Vincent’s Cancer Genetics Risk Assessment Program in Indianapolis. Post-graduation, she began volunteering with Crisis Text Line and accepted a Genetic Counseling Assistant position with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Alex enjoys traveling, attending concerts, reading, and puzzling
Elizabeth BortoUndergrad: Marquette University, Biomedical Sciences, Minor: Public Health and Equity
Elizabeth Borto graduated from Marquette University in May 2022 with a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences as well as a minor in Public Health and Equity. As an undergraduate, she worked part-time as a behavioral treatment technician at Autism Intervention Milwaukee, where she offered in-home behavioral therapy to young children with autism spectrum disorder. While studying at Marquette, she also participated in the Genetic Counseling Career Research and Exploration Workshop offered by the Medical College of Wisconsin. After graduating, Elizabeth worked as a clinical research assistant at the Medical College of Wisconsin. There, her team’s primary research focus was understanding more about chronic and acute pain experienced by individuals with sickle cell disease. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys exploring new music, long walks, and fitness.
Taly CarmonaUndergrad: Hebrew Theological College, Health Sciences and Psychology
Taly Carmona grew up in Costa Rica and came to the U.S. for further education. She graduated from Hebrew Theological College in 2023 with a BA in Health Sciences and Psychology. During college she volunteered to provide respite services to children with lifelong illnesses and was a mentor in a performing arts program for underserved children. As an undergraduate, Taly did a summer internship in genetic counseling at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She has been a research assistant at Loyola’s Impact lab researching group interpersonal therapy for college students and the Explain study for Narcolepsy. She intends to use her bilingual skills to advocate for ethnic minorities. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading and swimming
Keely ClantonUndergrad: University of Tampa, Biology, Minor: Chemistry and Psychology
Keely Clanton graduated from the University of Tampa in 2019 with a BS in Biology, and a minor in Chemistry and Psychology. During her time as an undergraduate, she was an orientation leader, a member of the cheerleading team, and volunteered with Best Buddies. As a postgraduate, Keely served as an outreach counselor, focusing on HIV education, with a local behavioral health center, working with diverse patient populations. After her time there, she transitioned into her role as a genetic counseling assistant with the University of Miami Health Systems. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her dog, being active, and trying new restaurants
Rachel CohnUndergrad: University of Georgia, Biology, Minor: Spanish
Rachel Cohn graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a BS in Biology and a minor in Spanish. As an undergraduate, she served on the executive board of her sorority, volunteered as a counselor for Panhellenic recruitment, interned at the East Georgia Cancer Coalition, and worked one summer as a molecular research assistant at Tel Aviv University's bat laboratory. After graduation, she worked as a molecular technologist in a genetics laboratory. In 2021, she became a clinical research coordinator at Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute. As a CRC, she worked with patients, oncologists, and researchers across Emory to further cancer research in the pursuit of personalizing treatment options. In her free time, she enjoys staying active, reading, trying new restaurants, and traveling.
Hani LeeUndergrad: University of Utah, Biology, Minor: Psychology
Hani Lee graduated from the University of Utah in 2022 with an Honors BS in Biology with an emphasis in neurobiology and a minor in Psychology. During college, she was a research assistant in Dr. Charles Murtaugh’s lab investigating the role of a transcription factor Ptf1a in pancreatic cancer development. She also spent time volunteering as a student counselor at Yongin Suicide Prevention Center in South Korea. After graduating, Hani volunteered at Woori Dongjok Center where she helped visually impaired individuals learn independent cooking skills. She also worked as a project researcher at Samsung Genome Institute in Seoul, South Korea, performing tumor dissociation and library preparation for NGS. In her free time, she enjoys doing pilates, weight training, and playing with her dog.
Franklin LewisUndergrad: Clark Honors College, Biology, Minor: Anthropology
Franklin Lewis graduated from the University of Oregon and Clark Honors College in 2019 with a BS in Biology and minor in Anthropology. He completed his undergraduate thesis through Dr. Kirstin Sterner’s Molecular Anthropology Lab, researching gene expression in primates. Recently, Franklin worked as a clinical Genetic Counseling Assistant at the Mayo Clinic. He was a founding member of his department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and was a junior editor for Dr. Eva Morava-Kozicz’s research team. As a senior writer for the UO’s student newspaper, Franklin initiated an educational science podcast. He also produced a series about rare disease patients of a physical therapy practice. Frank is interested in how advancements in genetics shape society and fostering informed public discourse on genetic issues.
Sofia MarrufoUndergrad: Morningside University, Biology, Minors: Chemistry and Studio Art
Sofia Marrufo graduated Magna Cummlaude from Morningside University in Sioux City, Iowa in 2020 with a BS in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Studio Art. During her time as an undergraduate, she discovered her passion for Genetics, bioethics, and social justice. She chose to intern with nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping immigrant communities, as well as victims of abuse. She enjoyed participating on several research projects, and did her Capstone Thesis on Insulin Signaling Pathway and the comparison of different methods of treatment for insulin resistance. She volunteered at organizations such as Mary J. Treglia Community House, in Iowa and Su Casa Catholic Workers in Chicago. She loves to interact with people from different backgrounds and circumstances. Sofia was born and raised in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. And she loves traveling and painting.
Noah McLennanUndergrad: North Central College, Biology, Minors: Chemistry and Mathematics
Noah McLennan graduated from North Central College in 2021 with a BS in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Mathematics. During his undergraduate studies, Noah volunteered for the mobile application, "Be My Eyes," where he guided people with visual impairments through tasks, became a calculus tutor for his fellow students, and worked as a Crisis Counselor for the Crisis Text Line. After graduating, Noah served on the Membership Committee in the Illinois Society of Genetic Professionals (ISGP), where he collaborated with genetic counselors to increase community engagement and recruit new members. Beyond genetic counseling, Noah enjoys baking for his friends and family, playing viola, and taking long nature walks — particularly on the snowiest days.
Madison MooreUndergrad: Illinois Wesleyan University, Biology, Minor: Hispanic Studies
Madison Moore graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2023 with a BS in Biology and a minor in Hispanic Studies. As an undergraduate, Madison held leadership roles as captain of the university’s softball team, president of the student-athlete advisory committee, and vice president of Illinois Wesleyan’s chapter of the Spanish honors society. She also participated in several other student organizations as well as conducted research in alignment with the Tiny Earth Project, which seeks to student-source antibiotic discovery. While at IWU, Madison continued her passion for advocating for people from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds by completing an interpreter internship at the Community Healthcare Clinic, participating in events with Special Olympics of IL, and working with various other organizations helping disabled youth. In her free time, Madison enjoys trying new restaurants, going to amusement parks, attending sporting events, and spending time with friends and family.
Nelago Tulela NashandiUndergrad: Augsburg University, Biology
Nelago Tulela Nashandi is an international student from Namibia. She graduated from Augsburg University (Minneapolis, MN) in 2021 with a BS in Biology. At Augsburg, she worked in residence life and at ACR Homes, an assisted living home for persons with disabilities. Nelago served the student body as Vice-President of the International Student Organization and represented all students on Augsburg's Covid Task Force. She received the Pickens-Opoku Social Justice Award and the Dean of Students Award. Following graduation, Nelago became a lab technician in the forensic department at LabCorp. In her free time, she enjoys hammocking during the beautiful summers of Minnesota and face timing family in Namibia. She’s an avid plant shopper and is always down for exploring coffee shops.
Kate RomanoUndergrad: University of Arkansas, Biology
Kate Romano graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2022 with a BA in Biology. As an undergraduate, she developed her thesis focused on the rare genetic condition and treatment of Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome; and conducted her research in the Department of Psychology where she studied the physiological and psychological effects pregnant couples experience transitioning into parenthood. After graduating, Kate became a genetic counseling assistant in UT Southwestern's Cancer Genetics Department and volunteered with a multitude of advocacy groups such as the Special Olympics, HDSA, Planned Parenthood, and Crisis Textline. From her career in competitive soccer and playing for the Olympic Development team, Kate still enjoys playing soccer in her free time. She also enjoys trying out new restaurants, reading, live music, and stand-up comedy.
Sarah RutzickUndergrad: University of California, Los Angeles, Human Biology and Society, Minor: Spanish
Sarah Rutzick graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2021 with a BS in Human Biology and Society and a Spanish minor. As an undergraduate, she volunteered as a Crisis Counselor with Crisis Text Line, as a Medical Genetics Volunteer with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and as a tutor with Front Lines Tutoring. Additionally, she worked part-time as a Community Counselor with Clearview Treatment Center, a mental health treatment center for women with psychiatric conditions. After graduating, she worked as a Genetic Counseling Assistant with Igenomix, which provides reproductive genetic testing and counseling services, and volunteered with the Association for X and Y Chromosome Variations. In her free time, she enjoys golfing, listening to podcasts, attending group fitness classes, and exploring new restaurants.
Savannah RyanUndergrad: Loyola University Chicago, Biology
Savannah Ryan graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2021 with a BS in Biology. As an undergraduate, she was a volunteer for her community in tutoring and mentoring at Chicago Public Schools as well as an active crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line. She spent time as a research assistant in Dr. Jennifer Mierisch’s laboratory studying the molecular basis for genes causing infertility in Drosophila. After graduation, Savannah worked at Argonne National Laboratory on a project aimed at building a prediction model for cancer drug response based on genomic data. Following this fulfilling project, she transitioned into a role as a dialysis technician, responsible for running dialysis treatments and providing patient education. In her free time, you can find Savannah caring for her many houseplants, hiking, or painting.
Erin ShusterichUndergrad: University of California, San Diego, Physiology and Neuroscience, Minor: History
Erin Shusterich graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2019 with a BS in Physiology and Neuroscience and a History minor. While in school, she worked at an Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center conducting geriatric memory screening. After graduating, Erin moved to Denver and earned certification in Applied Behavior Analysis Therapies to aid autistic children. Erin later became trained in over fifty restraint, self-defense, and hand-cuff maneuvers while working with detained and incarcerated youth. Most recently she certified as a Neuro-Technician utilizing electro-magnetic brain stimulation to treat psychological and neurological disorders. Her main ambition is to continue bridging traditional medical-sciences and psychological care. Erin enjoys farmers’ markets in the fall, skiing in the winter, hiking in the spring, and paddleboarding in the summer.
Anna Grace SmithUndergrad: Butler University, Music, Minor: Biology
Anna Grace Smith graduated from Butler University in 2021 with a major in music and a minor in biology. After graduation, she worked at Northwestern Medicine as their first genetic counseling assistant for the cancer and prenatal teams. She continues to play violin for the Northwestern Medical Orchestra, at weddings or the occasional gig, and when leading her family in holiday music. She is excited to continue living in Chicago to take her niece to the Lincoln Park Zoo and stay near the famous Wiener’s Circle. She loves taking walks by the lake, traveling, spending time with friends, and is thrilled to be a part of Northwestern University’s Class of 2025 for the Genetic Counseling graduate program.
Tori TateUndergrad: University of Missouri, Biology, Minor: Psychology; Certificate: Multicultural Studies
Tori Tate graduated from the University of Missouri in 2017 with a BS in Biology, minor in psychology and a Certificate in Multicultural Studies. After graduating, she worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator over five years at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) focusing on neuroimaging and biomarker collection for Alzheimer’s disease and pediatric genetic conditions. She furthered her career and passion for genetics by completing John Hopkin’s Genetic Assistant Certificate and becoming a Genetic Assistant. She also volunteered for Immigrant Home English Learning Program (IHELP) as an English teacher and served as a DEI and Well-Being committee member at WUSM. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants, and long walks.
Emiko WaightUndergrad: The Ohio State University, Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology
Graduate: University of Utah, Biology
Emiko Waight graduated from The Ohio State University in 2017 with a BS in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology. She graduated from the University of Utah in 2019 with an MS in biology. Her undergraduate research focused on polyploidy in Penstemon plants, while her graduate thesis research focused on host-parasite interactions. After graduate school, she worked at the Omaha Zoo for one year researching the population genetics of Madagascar Lemurs, and then worked at the University of Nebraska Medical Center for three years researching HIV. In her free time, she enjoys creating lino-cut art of insects, hiking, reading, and hanging out with her husband and their dog.
Rebecca WondimuUndergrad: Arizona State University, Biological Sciences; Certificate: Evolutionary Medicine
Rebecca Wondimu graduated from Arizona State University in 2021 with a BS in Biological Sciences (genetics, and cell and developmental biology) and a certificate in Evolutionary Medicine. As an undergraduate, she was a global peer mentor for incoming international students at ASU and a teaching assistant for a program that prepared ESL students to pass the TOEFL exam. After graduation she worked as a Genetic Counseling Assistant and scribe at Phoenix Children's Hospital in the genetics department. She continued her advocacy as an ESL tutor for adult refugees and by volunteering with a crisis text line. In her free time, she enjoys trying new restaurants, learning languages, watching K-dramas, and baking.