Our Students

Our students come from a variety of undergraduate institutions, with varied industry experiences and career goals.

See who our current students are and get a feeling for the variety of professionals who join the program.

Class of 2019

Kaylee Dollerschell

After growing up in a small Western Colorado town, Kaylee attended Colorado State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2012. Shortly after graduating, Kaylee was introduced to the world of clinical genomics as a research assistant at ArcherDX. Through this position, she was involved in the research and development of next-generation sequencing assays in which proprietary chemistry is utilized to identify complex genetic abnormalities. In 2014, Kaylee accepted a position with Baby Genes, a clinical genetics laboratory specializing in the detection of metabolic conditions within newborns. As one of the company’s early employees, she contributed to the development of laboratory, data analysis, and business practices and continued to watch it cultivate throughout her three and a half years there. It was during this time that she discovered her passion for genetic counseling, with a particular interest in metabolic counseling. Through the past several years, she has volunteered with various animal adoption agencies and Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners. During her spare time, Kaylee enjoys being lakeside with a fishing pole, hiking with her dog, or simply spending time with friends and family.

Kaitlyn Givens

Kaitlyn grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis and graduated in 2016 from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and second major in Biology, Society, and Environment (BSE). During her time at the U, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Madrid, Spain, where she lived with a host family, explored the beautiful city, and joined the psychiatric care team as a student at Clínica López Ibor. In her sophomore year, she began working as a personal care assistant for a woman with Spina Bifida, where she gained insight into the implications of living with a disability. Kaitlyn also volunteered for various organizations in her community, including Fairview Homecare and Hospice, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Pageant of Hope. After discovering the field of genetic counseling in her undergraduate genetics course, she began shadowing across a variety of clinical settings including prenatal, pediatrics, and cancer, as well as in the cytogenetic and molecular genetic laboratories at Mayo Clinic. Since graduation, Kaitlyn has been working as a Medical Scribe in a Fairview OB/GYN clinic, where she works alongside physicians and documents medical visits. In her free time, she enjoys boating, playing cribbage, exploring the Minneapolis food scene, and spending time with her puppy. She is very excited to join her relatives in Sioux Falls and also explore San Diego the following year!

Samantha McAllister

Originally from Tiffin, Iowa, Samantha graduated from Luther College in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Biology. While at Luther, she was a member of the Evolutionary Psychology Research Lab, where she gained experience in conceptualizing and designing a study and collecting and analyzing data. Since graduating, Sam has worked in clinical research at Mayo Clinic. There, she worked on over 50 research protocols and co-authored several peer-reviewed manuscripts. Outside of her research role, she spent time attending the Medical Genetics seminars and case conferences in addition to shadowing genetic counselors in a variety of specialties. Sam also volunteered with a local crisis center, answering the 24/7 crisis line and providing support to survivors of domestic abuse. In her spare time, Sam enjoys running, shopping, gardening, crocheting, playing with her two dogs, Dexter and Tess, and spending time with her loved ones.

Brittany Noble

Brittany grew up in Chantilly, VA and lived there until attending Virginia Tech where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Microbiology in 2013. At Virginia Tech, she was an active member of the professional chemistry fraternity, Alpha Chi Sigma, for which she participated in both recruitment of new fraternity members and fundraising events. Upon graduation, Brittany began her career as an Accessions Technician for GeneDx. There, she spent her lunch breaks discussing and learning about the genetic counseling field with various laboratory genetic counselors, and realized her desire to work closely with people while continuously learning about human genetics. She quickly transitioned to a Genetic Counseling Assistant position with the Prenatal, Rare Mendelian Disorders, and Neurology teams, eventually transitioning to work exclusively with the Neurology team. Brittany spent her free time volunteering as a mentor for ArtStream, a local inclusive theatre company for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. As a mentor, she helped the actors create, rehearse, and perform original musicals. She also volunteered as a call specialist for EveryMind’s crisis prevention and intervention hotline. As a part of the Augustana-Sanford program, Brittany is thrilled to branch out and experience Sioux Falls for the first year and San Diego for the second year. In her spare time, Brittany enjoys all avenues of the performing arts, staying active, reading, and traveling to new places.

Dylan Platt

Dylan Platt is a Colorado native, born and raised in the city of Boulder, a mid-sized university town with a thriving scientific and tech community. He is very excited to once again be attending Augustana University, as part of the second class of future Augie-educated genetic counselors.  As an undergraduate at Augustana (Class of 2016), Dylan received bachelor degrees in both Biology and Mathematics and played baseball for the Vikings all four years in attendance. Since graduation, he has worked as a high school and youth baseball coach in the Sioux Falls area. Coaching is what initially sparked Dylan’s interest in educating and mentoring kids and young adults, and is what led him to become a substitute teacher in the Sioux Falls School District during the past year. Upon learning about the future Imagenetics program his junior year at Augustana, Dylan knew that genetic counseling would offer an exciting polymerization of his love for science and education. Having been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age ten, he received an early introduction to the world of health care, and has since been very much interested in the ins and outs of both the scientific and clinical aspects of medicine. During his free time, you will likely find him with a book in hand, listening to music, while taking a break from the exciting chaos of planning his future wedding.

Andrea Schelhaas

Originally from southwest Minnesota, Andrea graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Genetics and Cellular Biology. While at the University of Minnesota, Andrea participated in directed research to examine phenotypic and genotypic variations among individuals with achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, in relation to mutations of the FGFR3 gene. She also received an undergraduate research grant and University Institutional Review Board approval to assess theoretically-grounded motivations for tobacco use among persons living with HIV and how changes in HIV disease markers affected tobacco use, beliefs, and behaviors. This research provided essential preliminary documentation for a grant application focused on increasing tobacco cessation interventions between physicians and people living with HIV and AIDS.

Following graduation, Andrea moved to New York City to work for Yale University as a clinical researcher within the Centering Pregnancy Plus (CP+) Project, a National Institute of Mental Health-funded study. CP+ aimed to reduce risks of repeat pregnancies, HIV, and other sexually transmitted diseases and improve health outcomes for pregnant women ages 14-21. It was during this time that Andrea earner her Master of Science in Teaching from Fordham University, becoming certified to teach both biology and special education. Andrea spent five years developing curriculum and collaborating with science and math departments to meet the needs of students with varying abilities. As an individual with dwarfism and an active member of Little People of America, Andrea has long understood the value of genetics education and counseling. Following the birth of her daughter, Andrea was motivated to return to the field of genetics and pursue a degree in genetic counseling. Andrea currently lives in Sioux Falls with her husband and daughter. She enjoys spending time with family, playing pinochle, reading, and hosting dinner parties at their home.

Jessica Smith

Jessica was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. During college, she volunteered with various health professionals, but she did not find her niche; she did not discover genetic counseling until years later. As an undergraduate, Jessica worked at the local YMCA as a childcare counselor. Her love for children blossomed there, so she decided to pursue teaching. In 2013, Jessica earned her master’s degree in Science Education. She taught for four years as a science teacher. Jessica loved working with families in this teaching role, but she yearned to do so in a one-on-one setting. She also desired to use more of her science background, especially in genetics. Even her students knew that genetics was her favorite! Jessica loves how genetic counseling combines her passions for genetics, education, and working with people in a personalized setting. After shadowing and interviewing multiple genetic counselors, she knew she had found her niche. Jessica is honored to join the Augustana-Sanford graduate program. In her spare time, she enjoys crafting, reading, following college football, and spending time with her husband. Her husband is a dentist in the military, currently stationed in San Diego. They are sacrificing by temporarily living states apart, but they are excited that Jessica can spend her second year, reunited with him, in San Diego!

Amy Stenhouse

Amy grew up in a picturesque town in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. She moved east to attend the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology and Genetics. Throughout her time at Guelph, Amy volunteered as an ABO blood typer with the Canadian Blood Services and gave presentations at elementary schools for the Canadian Cancer Society. She was also actively involved in the Molecular Biology and Genetics Students’ Association. For her senior research thesis, Amy investigated genes involved in the metabolic processes of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative bacterium of tuberculosis.

Following graduation, Amy volunteered at the Canadian Mental Health Association as a distress line listener, providing 24-hour support to those in times of crisis. Prior to beginning the GC program, she worked as a lifeguard and instructed First Aid Courses. Amy is interested in the accessibility and implementation of genetic counseling in rural communities, and she is excited for the rich clinical experiences and educational opportunities in both Sioux Falls and San Diego. Amy enjoys yoga, hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking, and she is looking forward to exploring the trails in Sioux Falls!

Class of 2018

Kayleigh Avello

Kayleigh grew up in Elmhurst, Illinois and lived there until she attended the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. During her time there, she discovered genetic counseling at a Career in Genetics workshop. Over her junior year, she shadowed two genetic counselors in the maternal fetal medicine, oncology, and pediatric departments at Carle Foundation Hospital. Throughout college, she volunteered for RACES, a rape crisis organization, providing phone crisis counseling, as well as served as a sexual health peer through the McKinley Health Center on campus. Additionally, she dabbled in some research involving mesenchymal stem cells for the use of regenerative medicine. Upon graduating from UIUC with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology, Kayleigh serviced hospice patients, initially as a Patient Care Volunteer, and then eventually taking on the role of Volunteer Coordinator for two hospice companies in Chicago. During that time, she also continued her crisis counseling work by training and volunteering for Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence advocacy group. In the winter of 2015, Kayleigh’s passion for genetic counseling took her all the way to Maryland to work for GeneDx, a genetic diagnostic company, as a Neurology Genetic Counseling Assistant. There, she was able to experience the laboratory side of genetic counseling and learned first-hand many of the responsibilities of a genetic counselor. In her spare time, Kayleigh enjoys reading, gardening, skiing, martial arts, body combat, and spending time with her family and dogs.

Katie Burns

Katie grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis and graduated in 2014 from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a bachelor’s degree in Physiology. During her time at the U of MN she participated in undergraduate clinical and behavioral research with the addiction and eating disorder program of the medical school, where she was able to co-author a published review article. She got married in the last year of college and then moved to Sioux Falls where her husband started working in agriculture. Since moving to Sioux Falls, she has become a homeowner, gotten involved in youth ministry, and mentored at the Alpha Center, which is a crisis pregnancy center. She is very excited to start the genetic counseling program at Augustana and even more excited to be in the first class! She has been enjoying the community of Sioux Falls by volunteering, playing in a kickball league, and finding out the best ice cream spot in town.

Liana Dayhoff

Liana is a Maryland native who has happily resettled in South Dakota to join the Augustana-Sanford Genetic Counseling Graduate Program. Liana earned her Bachelor of Science in Cell Biology and Genetics at the University of Maryland, College Park and minored in Spanish. She developed an interest in genetics early on during high school and discovered the field of genetic counseling through online research as a freshman in college. During her time as an undergraduate, Liana worked as a behavioral instructor, providing home-based applied behavioral therapy for young children with learning delays and autism, and also worked as a tutor for high schools students. Her work experience has shaped her desire to focus on pediatrics. Liana was also an active member in her co-ed service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, and continued volunteer work after graduating. She volunteered for her local county’s crisis center, assisting to provide 24-hour direct crisis counseling and companionship services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. After graduating, Liana shadowed genetic counselors in a variety of specialties and started working as a Genetic Counseling Assistant with the Whole Exome Sequencing program at GeneDx. She is thrilled to be a part of the Augustana-Sanford Genetic Counseling Graduate Program and its inaugural class. Liana will be spending her second year in San Diego, California, and is excited to have the opportunity to experience living in different cities. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, playing board games, painting, trying new restaurants, and exploring her new city, Sioux Falls!

Arielle Flynn

Arielle is an Iowa native who received a BS in Biology and minors in Psychology and Chemistry from Dordt College in 2016. She first began to enjoy studying genetics in middle school, and has found ways to continue fueling her interest ever since. Initially intending to go into research, Arielle realized that she missed working with people, and discovered Genetic Counseling through one of her undergraduate psychology classes. During her time as an undergraduate, Arielle worked as a chemistry and genetics Teacher’s Assistant and provided tutoring services through Dordt’s Academic Success Center. For her Senior Research Project, she studied a potential correlation between the human personality trait of perseverance and a genetic SNP in the Aldosterone Receptor Gene, NR3C2. Her graduate project focuses on the genetic counseling community’s opinion regarding the relationship between genetics laboratories and genetic counselors. In early August 2016, Arielle wed her high school sweetheart and moved to Sioux Falls. In her free time, Arielle enjoys watching movies, playing board, card, and video games, and reading. During football season, she can often be found clad in green and yellow, cheering for the Packers.

Austin Huber

Originally from a family farm near Selby, South Dakota, Austin graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry minor from South Dakota State University. There, he served as an intern in the anatomy and microbiology labs, as a Student’s Association senator, as a youth mentor, and also as a peer tutor. Following graduation, Austin was accepted into Sanford School of Medicine and completed his first year before voluntarily withdrawing to find a career that better fit with his future aspirations. He is confident that genetic counseling is that career and is excited to be entering the field. After medical school, he worked as a Registered Behavioral Therapist at a company that serves children with autism, and tutored chemistry on the side before applying to Augustana’s program. Austin and his wife, Sarah, had a baby boy, Porter, in March 2016 and have been learning all the untold secrets of parenthood, both good and bad, along the way. They have lived in Sioux Falls for a couple of years and enjoy all it has to offer. He appreciates that he is not too far away from a cornfield and likes to go back home to do some farm work every now and then. In his free time, Austin enjoys staying active, sports, fantasy football, and attempting carpentry projects.

Allison Hutchinson

Originally from Washburn, North Dakota, Allison graduated from the University of Sioux Falls in 2002 with Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology and Secondary Education and a minor in Chemistry. While at USF, she was member of the residence life staff as well as being an active youth leader at her church. After college, she started teaching General Biology and AP Biology at Sioux Falls Roosevelt High School (RHS). It was during this time that she earned her Master of Science in Educational Leadership from Southwest Minnesota State University. After seven years at RHS, she transitioned to the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Academy, where she launched the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) biomedical science program and went on to become a PLTW master teacher. In 2013, Allison was named Sioux Falls Teacher of the Year. Six years into her stay at the CTE Academy, she decided to pursue further training in her favorite part of the biomedical science curriculum—genetics and genetic counseling. After completing a summer-long research fellowship for educators focusing on type 1 diabetes, and also shadowing various genetic counselors, Allison felt more confident in her career shift. Being part of this inaugural class has been a true blessing, and she has deeply enjoyed being a full-time student again. For her research project, Allison is briefly heading back to the classroom to engage middle school students in a genetics-based lesson. Utilizing a before and after survey, she is questioning whether this type of interaction is effective in gauging middle school students’ awareness of and interest in genetics as a possible career option. The broader hope is to positively impact the number of underrepresented minorities in the genetic counseling field. Allison lives in Sioux Falls with her husband and three children. Between spending time with her family and taxying her kids around to their many activities, she enjoys traveling, reading, and hosting friends and family.

Jerica Lenberg

Jerica was born and raised in Colorado and graduated from University of Northern Colorado in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. As an undergraduate, she was a Lab Assistant for two microbiology courses and worked in an academic lab researching the parasite Leishmania major and the mechanisms of its reduction—which resulted in a publication. Jerica volunteered with various special-needs organizations throughout college, including Special Olympics, horse therapy, and a special-needs career program, and was an ambassador for the Dysautonomia Network of America. After graduating, she worked three years at National Jewish Health as a researcher and manager. Jerica studied immunological mechanisms in which maternal diesel exhaust exposure influences asthma development in offspring and was first author on a publication in a top allergy journal. In her spare time, she provided high school biology tutoring and volunteered as a coordinator for the American Cancer Society to arrange transportation for cancer patient to their treatments. Searching for a career that could fuse biology research with her love of advocacy, she discovered genetic counseling, and after subsequent shadowing her excitement was cemented. Jerica enjoys reading, riding horses, cooking, and hiking with her sheltie. She is excited to explore her new home of Sioux Falls and future home of San Diego!

Maija Rannikko

In 2015, Maija graduated from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona, Minnesota, with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Psychology. During her undergraduate career, she was a member of the Lasallian Honors Program, played trombone in the concert band, conducted research with the Body Image Collaborative research lab, and volunteered throughout the community. She also held the title of Miss Winona, which she used as an opportunity to advocate and raise awareness for rare diseases. For the past five summers, Maija has spent a week volunteering as a facilitator at Rotary District 5580 Camp RYLA, a leadership camp for juniors and seniors in high school. After graduation, Maija returned to her hometown of frigid Duluth, Minnesota and worked as a job coach for a supported employment program for individuals with developmental disabilities. Maija discovered genetic counseling while in high school and instantly felt called to the profession. Maija is extremely grateful to be attending Augustana as part of the first class and loved her first year experience in Sioux Falls. Currently, Maija is enjoying her rotations and all that San Diego has to offer (especially the beaches and farmer’s markets). In her free time, Maija enjoys quilting, paddle boarding, exploring, exercise, and cooking allergy friendly foods (particularly desserts). Feel free to follow to Maija on Twitter at @_mai_ran.