Class of 2020

group 2020 v1

Sarah Belsky

SarahBelsky v1Sarah Belsky is from Phillipsburg, New Jersey and graduated from Montclair State University in 2016. She majored in psychology and minored in biology, was involved in the Honors Program, interned with a psychotherapy practice, and was a member of a metacognition lab within the psychology department. After graduation, she worked in a wellness center with the mentally ill and disabled population, volunteered to help teach art classes to adults with cerebral palsy, and currently works in a nursing home. She is very excited to gain more clinical experience during rotations, and has an interest in the area of psychiatric genetics. She chose Rutgers based on its academic reputation, affiliation with excellent medical institutions, and the sense of companionship fostered amongst the students and faculty.

 

Emily Chien

EmilyChien v1Emily Chien is from Wellesley, Massachusetts. She graduated from University of California, Los Angeles in 2016 and majored in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. As an undergraduate, Emily participated in research involving the study of epigenetics in Arabidopsis thaliana and held an internship at a biomedical research company. She also had the opportunity to volunteer at health fairs that offered screenings to underinsured residents in the greater Los Angeles area. After graduation, she shadowed genetic counselors in Orange County, served as a Crisis Counselor for Crisis Text Line, and worked as a research coordinator assistant in clinical genetics at University of California, Irvine. She is interested in clinical cancer genetics and genetic counseling communication techniques. She chose to attend Rutgers because of its proximity to medical facilities that cater to a diverse population, its emphasis on providing students with long, well-rounded rotations that include ones at hospital and industry-based locations, and its supportive faculty. She looks forward to contributing to a relatively new program as a member of its second incoming class and is eager to learn more about the ever-evolving field of genetics.

 

Jessalyn Gerber

JessalynGerber v1Jessalyn Gerber is from Teaneck, New Jersey, and graduated from The College of New Jersey in 2018, where she majored in Biology and minored in Psychology within the Honors College. As an undergraduate, she was a member of Alpha Phi Omega, the National Service Fraternity, and she served as a biology peer mentor. Jessalyn also worked as a lab technician in the genetics teaching lab, where she cared for Drosophila melanogaster and prepared materials for student’s lab exercises. Jessalyn has also been a foster sister for the past 6 years. Jessalyn chose Rutgers because as the first and only program in New Jersey, the program offers unique opportunities that can only be found in New Jersey. In addition, she felt that the faculty were extremely caring and invested in the success of their students, and that the program had an overwhelmingly positive and inviting atmosphere.

 

Kendall Snyder

KendallSnyder v1Kendall Snyder is from Torrington, Connecticut. She graduated from Rutgers University in 2016 and majored in Genetics. Following graduation, Kendall worked as a Clinical Specialist and Genetic Counseling Coordinator for CooperGenomics, where she was introduced to carrier screening.  Kendall also volunteers with the NJ Chapter of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America and holds board positions as Executive Secretary and Chairman of the Youth Outreach committee. Through her volunteer work Kendall has facilitated a connection with the local HD youth organizations, incorporated youth breakout sessions into the chapter’s education events and is in the process of planning a virtual Q&A to discuss topics such as genetic testing with at-risk youth. She chose to attend Rutgers University for the innovative curriculum and their unwavering commitment to the students. From her experiences as an undergraduate student, she knew that the dedication of the program director and faculty would facilitate my growth as a well-rounded individual and genetic counselor.

 

Deirdre Sumski

DeirdreSumski v1Deirdre Sumski is from Cornwall, New York. In May of 2017 she graduated with a BSc specializing in genetics from the University College of Dublin (UCD) in Ireland. During her undergraduate degree she interned with Pinto Labs at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai where she contributed to the International Autism research project. Deirdre also worked in the Butler Lab identifying novel yeast species from Irish soil, and her work contributed to a study that was published in the PLOS One journal. After graduation, she volunteered at Camp Sunshine for kids with life threatening illnesses. Her experience at Camp Sunshine inspired her to become a genetic counselor and use to her degree to help families navigate genetic testing and diseases. Deirdre then interned under the supervision of certified cancer genetic counselor Nancy Cohen at the Northern Westchester Hospital. She is eager to be part of the new genetic counseling master’s program at Rutgers University, and she is passionate about working in a field that allows her to use knowledge and compassion to help people every day.

 

Erin Swartz

ErinSwartz v1Erin Swartz is from Pittsburgh, PA. She graduated from American University in Washington, DC in May, 2018 where she majored in biology and minored in public health and statistics. While at AU, Erin was a member of the Division I women’s volleyball team, worked as a TA for an evolution course, and spent time in a zebrafish research lab on campus. During the summer between undergrad and graduate school, Erin interned at Biomedical Research Institute in Rockville, Maryland helping with various projects surrounding Schistosomiasis. She was most excited about coming to Rutgers for the many diverse clinical rotation sites close by and the chance to be part of a new program.

 

Jillian Tokarczyk

JillianTokarczyk v1Jillian Tokarczyk was raised in North Tonawanda, NY a suburb between Niagara Falls and Buffalo. She attended Hamilton College in Upstate NY, where she majored in Biology and played Division III Ice Hockey. For the past 3 years, she has been teaching Biology to high school students. This previous year, she taught at Forman School in Connecticut. This experience was especially meaningful as the school is exclusively for students with diagnosed learning disorders. Jillian dedicates time working with children through Camp Good Days and Special Times at their annual camp. Jillian felt an instant connection upon visiting Rutgers and meeting with Jessica. She was thrilled to be matched to Rutgers and has been enjoying her first few months living in New Jersey.

 

Julia Weston

JuliaWeston v1Julia Weston is from Roanoke, Virginia. She graduated from Virginia Tech in 2018 with a Bachelor’s in Biological Sciences (Biology). As an undergraduate, Julia was an active volunteer and supervisor at RAFT Crisis Hotline, providing empathy and support for callers experiencing crisis and/or suicidal ideations. Julia was a research assistant for a project focusing on PEG degraders and their use in heater-cooler systems in the operating room. Julia is interested in both clinical and non-traditional genetic counseling roles and hopes to be involved in the rare disease community during her time at Rutgers. Julia chose Rutgers because of the many opportunities for exposure to traditional, non-traditional, and specialty roles of genetic counseling. Strong program leadership, experienced faculty, and a positive interview experience also helped guide her decision.