Genetic Counseling students

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

 

See our current students and get a feeling for the variety of professionals who join the program. To see a listing of our recent graduates see the ASGCGP Alumni accordions below

Current Students



Class of 2023

Austvold,EspiAustvold, Espi

Espi comes to us from Spicer, MN a small town in Central Minnesota. She graduated from the College of Saint Scholastica in Duluth, MN in December of 2019 with  a Bachelors of Arts in Biology with a Psychology minor. Throughout her undergraduate career she was lucky enough to play collegiate volleyball, work in different  medical fields, and conduct genetic research. She became the Director of Community Service for the Student Athletic Advisory Committee at Saint Scholastica.  She also worked directly with different community organizations including Special Olympics and the Boys and Girls Club of Duluth. People are her passion and she wishes to dedicate her life and career to helping others. After undergrad she had the privilege of working as a Medical Assistant at a dermatology clinic. This is where she found her love of counseling. Her goal with each medical visit was to ensure that every patient completely understood their treatment plan and left feeling confident in their next step. As a genetic counselor she intends to extend that mentality to her patients. Genetic counseling combines her love for science, medical innovation, and patient care, and she couldn’t be more thrilled to begin her journey at Augustana! In Espi’s spare time she enjoys being in nature, hiking, traveling, reading, and spending time with loved ones including my english bulldog Mellie.


Campbell,AmandaCampbell, Amanda

Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina Amanda is thrilled to be joining the class of 2023.She is a 2021 graduate from the University of Georgia (UGA) with a bachelor’s degree in Genetics. During her time at UGA, she undertook research studying post-transcriptional regulation and polyadenylation on E. coli in an independent lab on campus. Despite her interest in research, Amanda knew she wanted to be more hands on in helping people. She enjoyed her time volunteering at a therapeutic riding center for those with mental and physical disabilities so Amanda shadowed with Pediatric and Prenatal Genetic Counselors. This opportunity solidified her passion for the genetic counseling profession. The ever-growing field is full of enticing possibilities. Her experiences led her to seek out a Genetic Counseling Masters program which is how she found Augustana University! She never expected to be moving 1,300 miles away from home, but she is excited to explore Sioux Falls for the next two years while making friends in her cohort and connections in the genetic counseling field. In her free time, she loves trying new food with friends, hanging out with her kitten, Winston, trying new outdoor activities such as paddle boarding and skiing, and watching the Georgia Bulldog football team play on Saturdays.
 

Decker,AmieDecker,Amie

Amie comes to us from LaPorte, Indiana! She is a 2020 graduate of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Language and Literature. In undergrad, she served in several leadership positions which made her realize how much she enjoyed working with people. Some of those leadership roles included Service Chair of the Residence Hall Association, Sophomore Advisor of a freshman residence hall, Senator and later Vice President of the Student Government Association, camp counselor of a STEM summer camp, and various roles in her sorority. Amie was also a trained crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line to prepare for a career helping others who may be going through a difficult time. From 2020 to 2021, she worked as a genetic counseling assistant in research at Geisinger in northeast Pennsylvania. Here she gained hands-on skills working with patients, which solidified her passion for the field. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, sewing, baking, and finding new places to explore.
 

Gill,ChloeGill, Chloe

Originally from Lake Park, MN, Chloe attended the University of Minnesota - Morris, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biochemistry in 2016. As an undergraduate student, she was very active on campus serving as a community advisor, teaching assistant for several courses, and a peer assisted tutor. She also conducted two research projects and was the lead presenter at the national meeting for American Society for Microbiology. After her graduation she went on to work as a cytogenetic F.I.S.H technologist at Mayo Clinic. While in this role she analyzed blood, bone marrow, and other various tissue samples to aid health care providers in prognosis, diagnosis, and treatment plans of patients. By working as a F.I.S.H. technologist she worked closely with genetic counselors and pathologists in the laboratory. To gain more insight into the day to day role of a GC, Chloe piloted the Genetic Counseling Assistant (GCA) program at Mayo Clinic. Her experiences as GCA allowed for work with six different GC subspecialities and affirmed that genetic counseling was her ideal career path. In her free time, Chloe enjoys hiking with her two dogs, trying out new recipes with her husband, gardening, and traveling. Chloe is excited to be joining the ASGCGP class of 2023 and to continue on her path to becoming a genetic counselor.
 

Hershman,EmilyHershman,Emily

Emily Hershman was born and raised in Colorado—she grew up in the small rural town of Elizabeth. In 2017, Emily moved to Cleveland Ohio to attend Cleveland State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences and a minor in Biology. During her time in Cleveland, she provided support to individuals in need as a Certified Crisis Counselor for the Crisis Textline. She also spent several years volunteering at Gigi’s Playhouse, where she served as an advocate, fitness coach, and tutor for children, teens, and adults with Down Syndrome. After graduating from Cleveland State University, Emily worked at the Cleveland Clinic’s Robert J. Tomsich Pathology & Laboratory Medicine Institute as a medical laboratory technician. Emily is thrilled to join the Augie team and looks forward to starting her training in Genetic Counseling in Sioux Falls and San Diego. In her free time, you can find Emily paddle boarding, rock climbing, or hiking with her trail buddy, Ruby (a Siberian Husky who is just as sweet as she is stubborn). 

 

McGeer,KaileeMcGeer,Kailee

Kailee grew up in Hood River, OR, just along the Columbia River. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in research and a French minor from Gonzaga University in 2018. As an undergraduate, she was awarded research fellowships at the Oregon National Primate Research Center studying mammalian puberty and at her university studying bacteriophage. She participated in various volunteer opportunities with the Spokane community, served as a biology teacher assistant on campus, and led a student club encouraging a green thumb. After graduating, Kailee joined a University of Washington medical research microbiology lab in Seattle where she studied Cystic Fibrosis chronic lung infections for three years. While assisting with clinical trials and working with patients and doctors, she realized her true calling as a genetic counselor. She then began volunteering with Crisis Textline in her spare time, where she further developed her skills in supporting those in need. It is her passion to help and educate others through her knowledge of and love for genetics and people. In her free time, Kailee enjoys hiking, listening to music, watching Friends, and spending time with friends, family, and animals. She is excited to be part of the Augustana University family and pursue the career of her dreams in Sioux Falls and San Diego.
 

Tapper,ErinTapper,Erin 

Erin is originally from Duluth, Minnesota. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received her bachelor’s degree in Genetics in 2015. Before matriculating to the Augustana Genetic Counseling Graduate Program, Erin worked as a research technologist at Mayo Clinic, first under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Diasio investigating the pharmacogenomic relationship between DPYD mutations and 5-fluorouracil toxicity in chemotherapy patients, and most recently in Dr. Saad Kenderian’s T Cell Engineering Program, utilizing gene therapy to optimize CAR-T cell therapies and improve leukemia and lymphoma treatments. As a technologist at Mayo Clinic, Erin had the opportunity to pursue a master’s through the Mayo Clinic Graduate School but decided to change her career trajectory and pursue genetic counseling after connecting with several of Mayo’s Clinical Genetic Counselors. Outside of the lab, she was involved in the community as a volunteer at the Rochester Women’s Shelter and Support Center and mentored local middle school and high school girls through various regional volleyball programs. As a Genetic Counselor, she looks forward to sharing her love and passion for science with others and empowering patients to make educated decisions about their health.
 

Tu,KristiTu, Kristi

Kristi was born and raised in a small town in West Texas and graduated from Angelo State University in 2017 with a major in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Psychology. She later volunteered as a Shannon Care Coordination Health Coach at the local hospital during college and found purpose in motivating and counseling others to achieve their health goals. Combining her two passions, genetic counseling was the perfect career choice.

After graduating, Kristi moved to Dallas TX to work as a Genetic Counseling Assistant at UT Southwestern Medical Center in the Adult Genetics Clinic. Kristi immensely enjoyed her time working with diverse patients and hopes to continue improving her cultural competency to assist and properly care for more patients in her career as a genetic counselor. She hopes to make genetic counseling more accessible to everyone. In Kristi’s free time, she enjoys trying new food, spending time with friends and family, and traveling. Kristi is excited as she embarks on her journey to becoming a Genetic Counselor and is ecstatic to be a part of the Augustana Genetic Counseling Graduate Program!
 

Van Peursem,MadisonVan Peursem, Madison

Madison grew up in Santa Barbara, California and attended the University of California San Diego (UCSD). She received her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Cell Biology in 2019. As an undergraduate, Madison played on the NCAA Women’s tennis team and led as captain her junior and senior years. While at UCSD, she volunteered with the athletics department’s mentorship program to serve local elementary schools, inspiring habits of physical wellness in the city’s youth. She also volunteered at Sharp Memorial Hospital, where her time interacting with patients sparked her interest in healthcare. Prior to being admitted to the Augustana Genetic Counseling Graduate Program, she learned the value of proactive healthcare while working for a lab to create diagnostic autoimmune disease kits. Her love of genetics began in the classroom during her undergraduate years, but her passion to pursue a degree in genetic counseling developed through her experiences in healthcare, the lab, and shadowing genetic counselors.  Madison loves to run, surf, read, bake, backpack, and go to the beach with her husband, Kent. She is excited to live outside of Southern California for the first time and explore Sioux Falls, as well as continue her dreams back in San Diego!
 

Vaughn, TaylorVaughn,Taylor

Taylor grew up in the Black Hills of western South Dakota and attended Augustana University, where she earned degrees in Biology and Religion. This unique combination of coursework emphasized concepts in bioethics and medical humanities. During her undergraduate years, involvement with Augustana’s Recreational Services department provided significant opportunities for leadership development and personal growth. She also spent several years mentoring high school students and volunteering through a local ministry in Sioux Falls. In the summer of 2018, Taylor was a genetic counseling intern at Sanford Health, an experience that provided first hand exposure to the field. The time spent shadowing appointments in various specialties and interacting with genetic counselors was key in cultivating her passion and affirming her desire to pursue a career in genetic counseling. After graduating from Augustana in 2020, she spent the following school year substitute teaching at Memorial Middle School in Sioux Falls. Taylor is thrilled to continue her educational journey at her alma mater as she pursues her genetic counseling degree. She looks forward to trading midwestern winters for the warmer weather of San Diego in the coming year. In her free time, Taylor enjoys being active, spending time outside, hiking, watching her favorite TV shows, and spending time with friends.

 

Class of 2022

 

Millie Anderson

Millie joins Augustanas Class of 2022 from Aurora, CO. She graduated from Colorado State University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Anthropology. During her undergraduate career, she was involved with various organizations that allowed her to utilize her passion for educational outreach. She was part of CSUs Dream Project,” a program that paired undergraduates with first-generation high school students to support them in their pursuit of higher education. She also worked with CSUs Little Shop of Physics,” a program that took hundreds of hands-on science projects to schools across the state in order to spark early interest in science. Prior to being admitted to Augustana, Millie worked as a Genetic Counseling Assistant for a team of genetic counselors at Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine. At CCRM, she was able to immerse herself into the world of genetic counseling and developed a fascination for reproductive medicine. She stayed involved in her community by becoming a language partner to a Spanish-speaking woman, providing ongoing support in her efforts to become comfortable speaking English. In her free time, Millie loves to try out new restaurants, play board games with friends, and hang out with her sweet cat, Lillian. She is so excited to take the first step in becoming a genetic counselor at Augustana and explore Sioux Falls over the next two years!

 

Abigail Draves

Abigail grew up in De Pere, WI, just outside of Green Bay, and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Genetics & Genomics and Psychology. During her undergraduate years, Abigail was on the Figure Skating Club team and served as President of the club for two years. She also worked with UW’s Campus and Visitor Relations as an Information Guide to be a Wisconsin Ambassador and provide information or referrals to the campus community. Abigail was also an intern with a small private mental health clinic in Madison where she had the opportunity to interact with many health professionals and patients. Abigail is excited to continue her education and gain more experience and exposure within the field. In her free time, Abigail enjoys cheering on the Green Bay Packers and spending time outdoors, particularly going kayaking, paddle boarding, and hiking by her family’s lake house in Door County, WI.

 

Becca Jirik

Becca is from Wausau, WI, and is a 2020 graduate of St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN) where she earned her bachelor's degree in Biology. As part of her undergraduate experience, she volunteered at the college’s Sexual Assault Resource Network as a student advocate for survivors of sexual assault, and also as a clinic escort. Being an advocate for others was very rewarding and helped solidify her career goal of helping others. Additionally, she was lucky enough to be involved in numerous research opportunities. Her research experiences were highlighted by studying soil microbial genetics and the nitrogen cycle at St. Olaf, PUM protein’s influence on gene control at the University of Minnesota, and the patient/provider alliance at the National Institute of Health. Shadowing genetic counselors at the NIH reinforced that genetic counseling is the perfect fit for her career and personal goals. Becca is excited to study genetic counseling in Sioux Falls and San Diego. In her free time, she also loves to run, ski, mountain bike, embroider, and talk on the phone with her twin sister.

 

Eryn Mares

Eryn grew up in Balsam Lake, WI, a map dot in the northwest region of the state. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2019 with a major in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. During her undergrad, she explored many different career avenues. In fact, she never imagined she would end up working in the medical field! Upon discovering genetic counseling, however, she realized it was a great fit for her as it is both challenging and rewarding. Eryn is especially drawn to the field because it is continuously evolving and she is excited to be a lifelong learner. To prepare for her future, Eryn volunteered with kids with disabilities, was a research assistant, and, upon graduating, worked as a Genetic Counseling Assistant at PreventionGenetics, where she gained insight into the non-clinical roles of genetic counselors. In her free time, Eryn enjoys biking, reading, kayaking, fishing, baking, spending time with friends and family, and playing competitive board games.

 

Bailey Mitchell

Bailey grew up in a small town in central Illinois and studied Foreign Languages and Psychology at Eastern Illinois University. After a personal experience with genetic counseling in her junior year, she decided to change academic directions and pursue the career herself. Experiences working as a study abroad peer adviser and volunteering as a crisis pregnancy advocate were significant in establishing her passion for working with others in a supportive role. In preparation for the field, she decided to stay at her undergraduate institution to earn a master’s degree in Biological Sciences while working as a graduate teaching assistant and completing her thesis in plant genomics. After having opportunities to study and volunteer overseas in Spain, Ecuador, and Mexico, Bailey now works as a Spanish translator at Sanford World Clinics and looks forward to using her bilingual skills as a genetic counselor. She is thrilled to be joining the ASGCGP and in her free time enjoys outside activities, reading, and being with friends and family.

 

Emily Montoya

Emily earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience with minors in Chemistry and Spanish from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2017. As an undergraduate student, she was an active member of the Global and Community Leadership Honors Program and enjoyed discovering ways to serve communities and individuals. She also spent a semester in Granada, Spain studying Spanish and developing skills in cultural sensitivity. When Emily learned about genetic counseling, she realized this career offered her the perfect opportunity to combine her science background with her desire to connect with and help others. Following graduation, Emily began working as a Genetic Counseling Assistant at Clearview Cancer Institute in Huntsville, Alabama. Through her experiences as a GCA, Emily developed a passion for expanding access to genetic counselors for both patients and hopeful genetic counseling students. In 2018, Emily took a short break from her job as a GCA to teach English abroad in the beautiful province of Songkhla, Thailand. Since returning stateside, she has spent time volunteering at Crisis Services of North Alabama on the local Helpline and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. In her free time, Emily enjoys rock climbing, reality TV shows, reading, and traveling. As Emily continues her journey towards becoming a genetic counselor, she is looking forward to exploring Sioux Falls and San Diego, making lasting friendships and professional connections, and becoming part of the amazing legacy of the Augustana-Sanford Genetic Counseling Graduate Program.

 

Mitchell Muske

Mitchell is originally from Saint Joseph, MN. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Biology with a minor in Psychology from Saint John’s University (Collegeville, MN) in 2018. One of Mitchell’s most fond memories from undergraduate school was helping to lead a 10-day medical brigade to Honduras with 30 of his peers. Mitchell first became passionate about genetic counseling after the profession had been suggested to him by a professor and mentor of his in undergraduate school. This led to his work as a patient advocate post-graduation at Maple Grove Hospital in Maple Grove, MN. As a patient advocate, Mitchell worked with patients who did not have health insurance to help them obtain coverage for their medical bills. He also worked part-time as a high school science tutor with students from the surrounding area. In his free time, Mitchell loves to play golf, write, spend time with friends, and try new things.

 

Gabriella Voso

Gabriella is from Baltimore, MD, and completed her Bachelor of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology from Towson University in 2016. After graduation, she spent a year in Seattle, WA as an AmeriCorps volunteer through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest program. There she served as a case aide at a day treatment center for adults with severe mental illness. Upon returning to the Baltimore area, she worked at a cold-weather shelter before joining the Rare Disorders and Prenatal teams at GeneDx as a Genetic Counseling Assistant. In her two years there, she was exposed to many exciting aspects of genetic counseling and was fortunate to have unique opportunities, such as attending Rare Disease Day at NIH and participating in a monthly journal club with her peers. During this time, she also served as an outreach volunteer with the Victim Assistance and Sexual Assault Program in Montgomery County, MD, and as a coach for Girls on the Run. In her free time, Gabby enjoys yoga, karaoke, listening to Ariana Grande, and planning the most inexpensive ways to visit national parks!

 

Mackenzie Wilson

Mackenzie is from Anacortes, WA and received her bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Marine Biology from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA in 2016. During her time at UW, she conducted biomechanics research at the Friday Harbor Marine Labs, spent a stint at sea onboard a NOAA research ship in the Gulf of Alaska—collecting data used to set fishing quotas—and as a Naturalist onboard whale watching tours in the San Juan Islands. These roles sparked her interest in the communication of science, which she brought to her next position as the Communications Director at Friends of the Forest, an environmental education and conservation non-profit. Mackenzie decided to switch gears and pursue genetic counseling after receiving a diagnosis that connected her with several inspiring health care professionals—showing her, from a patient’s perspective, how impactful positive patient-provider interactions can be. Just as these providers served as fierce and compassionate advocates for her, she hopes to do the same for others as a genetic counselor. Since then, in addition to working as a Communications Director and a high school math and science tutor, Mackenzie interviewed and shadowed genetic counselors and took an online genetic counseling course through the University of South Carolina. Mackenzie also trained as a WA State certified Advocacy Counselor and volunteered at Skagit Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services, where she provided support to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and their families during office visits, in the ER, and over the 24-hr crisis hotline. She’ll jump at any opportunity to go sailing, skiing, or scuba diving and enjoys painting, yoga, and cooking. Mackenzie is excited to explore Sioux Falls and move back to San Diego, where she used to live when she was younger!

 

Kayla Zeck

Originally from East Grand Forks, MN, Kayla attended the University of Minnesota - Morris, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, double majoring in Biology and Psychology. During her time in Morris, Kayla volunteered as a mentor and “Big Friend” to a child in the Morris community through the University’s Big Friend, Little Friend program. After discovering the genetic counseling field during her freshman year, Kayla began job shadowing genetic counselors at Sanford Health in Bemidji and Children’s MN in St. Paul. Kayla was particularly intrigued by the opportunity that genetic counseling offered to blend her passions and turn them into a career. To gain additional experience in healthcare, Kayla spent a summer volunteering in the Occupational Psychiatric ward at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, ND, before interning with a genetic counselor at Sanford Health in Bemidji. The time spent observing and assisting genetic counselors confirmed she was headed down the right path, and Kayla is very excited to spend the next two years in the ASGCGP! In her free time, Kayla is an avid reader, enjoys taking landscape photography, listening to music, and trying her hand at Pinterest baking recipes.

 

ASGCGP Alumni