First year students

Srika Amin grew up in Mumbai, India and graduated from Jai Hind College, University of Mumbai with a B.S. in Biotechnology and minor in Chemistry in 2018. She first heard about genetic counseling through a friend during her undergraduate degree and knew that it was the perfect fit for her. After graduating, she worked as a genetic counseling trainee/assistant at the Cancer Genetics Clinic at Tata Memorial Hospital and Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer in Mumbai for a year.  While she was there, she got to observe over 1200 patients from the Indian subcontinent and helped coordinate work in the clinic and lab. She served as an Instructor at a workshop on genetic counseling at the 4th Indian Cancer Genetics Conference & Workshop. At the conference, she also presented a poster on the research conducted while she was at the Cancer Genetics Clinic- for which she won an award for best poster presentation. She volunteered at a suicide prevention helpline- Samaritans, Mumbai- before which she had to undergo training in active listening. She also volunteered at - ADAPT (Able Disabled All People Together), Bandra- a school for children with cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, exploring places to eat, listening to podcasts and watching movies and sports! Srika is excited to move to Atlanta and be at Emory!

Emily Brown grew up in Sunnyvale, CA. She graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 2019 with a B.S. in Psychology and minor in Spanish. During her time at Cal Poly she became a peer counselor through her psychology coursework, and used those skills as she interned at her campus’ sexual assault prevention program, Safer. Her responsibilities included outreach and prevention education as well as contributions to multiple campus wide events. Emily worked closely with many academic clubs and departments in order to spread awareness and educate others on sexual assault and relationship violence. During her second year of college she heard about genetic counseling and knew that it was the perfect field for her. She had the opportunity to volunteer at Stanford’s Center for Inherited Cardiovascular Disease during the summer after her junior year. There she was able to shadow many cardiovascular cases and learned how to input pedigrees using Progeny. Emily also volunteered with Central Coast Autism and enjoyed engaging with the San Luis Obispo community. Now that she is here in Atlanta, she is extremely excited to be a part of the Emory program. In her free time she likes to run, hike and bake and is looking forward to the many ways that she can get involved with the Emory and Atlanta community!

Emily Furno grew up in Huntsville, Alabama. She graduated from Clemson University in 2019 with a B.S. in genetics and minors in psychology and biology. During her time at Clemson, Emily researched the genomic effects on craniofacial development in cichlid fishes. Her work provided the opportunity to present her research four times and receive two grants. At the beginning of her college career, Emily helped found a Clemson chapter of UNICEF: Campus Initiative. She eventually became president and coordinated events to educate students about global issues such as hunger, human trafficking, and climate change. Emily’s passion for education extended to her time spent tutoring freshman in chemistry and genetics. She also assisted freshman in their transition to college by serving as an Honors College Mentor. In addition, Emily gained valuable advocacy skills by volunteering at a local domestic violence shelter, answering crisis calls from distressed victims. In her free time, Emily enjoys cooking, listening to podcasts, and drinking copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Tatiana Garrison is from Englewood, NJ and graduated from Howard University with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Chemistry in 2019. She first heard about genetic counseling during her senior year of high school after her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis. This experience sparked her curiosity in genetics. In college, she spent the summer interning for a cancer genetic counselor at the Howard University Cancer Center, where she fell in love with genetic counseling. Tatiana is passionate about serving underrepresented communities and has done so through mentoring, tutoring and various volunteering. She also participated in two alternative spring breaks in Memphis, TN to combat poverty through community development by targeting issues in education and youth violence. She also served as camp counselor for Brainy Camps of Children’s National Hospital where she aided to provide a safe, healthy and enjoyable camp experience for children with Type 1 Diabetes. She is also a crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line. During the summer of 2019, she was a cancer research intern at the National Cancer Institute, studying patients with the following rare genetic disorders, Xeroderma Pigmentosum and Trichothiodystrophy. In her free time, Tatiana enjoys cooking, spending quality time with family and friends, and sightseeing.

Kia Hutchins most recently lived in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, but has lived in 5 different states and overseas in China. She graduated from Wake Forest University in 2019 with a B.S. in Chemistry with a concentration in Biochemistry and minors in Biology and Chinese. While at WFU, Kia worked as a research assistant in a biochemistry lab studying the kinetics of aminoacyl tRNA synthetases in various bacteria. She also served as a resident adviser and was involved in a co-ed service fraternity, serving dozens of organizations in the Winston-Salem area. She spent one summer shadowing a clinical counseling supervisor of LMFT and social work counselors working towards licensure, and another summer as a volunteer services intern with the Ronald McDonald House of Winston-Salem. Kia learned about genetic counseling during the spring of her junior year of college, when she changed her plans from going to medical school to going to a genetic counseling program! In her free time, Kia enjoys hiking, painting, road trips, and baking, and is excited to be joining the Emory community.

Eric Johns grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and graduated from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, in 2018 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Italian. As an undergraduate, Eric worked as a research assistant in several different capacities within the Caldwell Laboratory, lovingly nicknamed the “WormShack”, utilizing the model organism C. elegans to investigate the genetic bases of neurodegenerative disease. His senior year, he was afforded the opportunity to apply for and receive grant funding for his own project investigating a series of presumed epigenetic resilience factors in Parkinson’s Disease. He also was able to teach a course on the “Evolution of Taste”, a seminar documenting the genetic and cultural propagation of taste preferences, and to provide art therapy to individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease at an adult day center. Eric discovered genetic counseling in his senior year of college. Following graduation, Eric worked as a genetic counselor assistant at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Genomics Laboratory, where he was engaged in exciting research and molecular diagnostic testing for the neurofibromatoses and related disorders. In his free time, Eric likes to cook, share long-winded stories, travel, learn the guitar, and bike around Atlanta!


 

Sunaina Kapur grew up in Lexington, South Carolina, and graduated from the University of South Carolina (USC) with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a Counselor Education minor in 2019. Throughout her undergraduate career, Sunaina did research in a molecular biology lab where she studied gene expression and proteins affected by stress in the endoplasmic reticulum. She also worked as a cancer genetic counseling assistant at University of South Carolina Genetic Counseling where she primarily triaged patient referrals and helped patients understand what genetic counseling is in order to help them throughout the process. Sunaina also helped prepare for weekly group counseling appointments, primarily for those recently diagnosed with breast cancer, by taking patient family and medical history to construct their pedigree via telephone as well as in person. In order to share her passion of genetics, she was involved with the Society for Pre-Health Professionals in Genetics at USC to help others explore career opportunities within the field of genetics. Sunaina has also worked with children with Autism and Down Syndrome as well as volunteered in a hospice to increase her counseling experience and to work with a variety of populations. She is excited to build on these skills as well as utilize all that Emory has to offer to become a genetic counselor one day!

 

Jennifer Pagano grew up in Johns Creek, Ga and graduated from the University of Georgia with a B.S. in Biology and Psychology in 2015. As an undergraduate Jennifer completed a research project in a neurobiology lab and was a research assistant in an evolutionary biology genetics lab assisting with a project on the evolution of mate discrimination in Drosophila.  During her time at school, Jennifer also enjoyed volunteering at Affinis Hospice where she was able to provide comfort and support while advocating for patients. After graduation Jennifer started her career as a manager at a plasma donation facility in Virginia and was responsible for center operations, quality assurance, and donor relations in addition to learning phlebotomy. During this time, she was able to shadow several genetic counselors in cancer and prenatal settings at Centra Health and fell in love with genetic counseling. Jennifer later moved to Tampa and had the opportunity to gain experience in home health care. In her role as a client services manager, Jennifer arranged skilled nursing for chronically ill patients, made home visits to understand the needs of the families, and built relationships with both patients and nurses. While working Jennifer also gained valuable counseling experience as a volunteer crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line. In her free time Jennifer enjoys exploring the city, going to concerts, and traveling- especially solo backpacking trips. Jennifer is excited to be back in Atlanta and to be starting genetic counseling at Emory!

 

Jay Qiu is originally from Fishers, IN and earned his BS in Biochemistry and minors in Political Science and Psychology from Purdue University in 2018. During his undergraduate years, he had the opportunity to volunteer at St. Vincent’s Cancer Genetic Risk Assessment Program in Indianapolis where he got familiar with the genetic counseling profession and assisted the genetic counselors in the clinic such as helping with research projects and administrative tasks. He got intimately involved with his local crisis center, volunteering for about 1.5 years as a Crisis Specialist taking crisis/suicide related calls and texts before becoming a Crisis Center Assistant where he had the amazing privilege working with volunteers and training them to take calls/texts for the crisis center as well as taking overnight shifts for the crisis center. He has done various internships during his undergrad years as an intern for the Cancer Prevention Internship Program conducting research on DNA methylation biomarkers in blood samples for Hepatocellular Carcinoma and as a congressional intern for congressman Andre Carson’s district office of the 7th congressional district of Indiana where he met or took calls from constituents and recorded their opinions on issues.

Julie Rice grew up in Ellicott City, Maryland and graduated from Virginia Tech in 2019 with a B.S. in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and a minor in Psychology. While at VT, she was a research assistant in the Mind Body Lab, doing psychophysiological research with an emphasis on the defense cascade. She served on the Virginia Tech Student Wellness Committee with the goal of increasing access to campus resources and decreasing tobacco use. She interned at the Women’s Resource Center, a sexual and domestic violence shelter in Radford, VA, working primarily with children exposed to these issues. In preparation for graduate school, she shadowed genetic counseling sessions in oncology and prenatal and completed informational interviews in pediatric and cardiology. In her free time, Julie enjoys gymnastics, hiking, and reading. She is looking forward to starting her next chapter at Emory!

Smriti Singh, originally from Suwanee, Georgia, attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she graduated with distinction from the Honors College. She received her B.S. in Biology along with minors in English and Chemistry and was part of the Carolina Women in STEM initiative. As an undergrad, she partnered with a student organization called APPLES to create spring-break service experiences in Atlanta, leading undergrads in serving the Feminist Women's Health Center with discussions on reproductive health rights and policy, the NAMI Dekalb Center focusing on citizen wellbeing with physical and mental disabilities, as well as multiple schools with STEM-focused curricula. She also volunteered to raise funds for She’s the First, the Compass Center for Women and Children, and the Ronald McDonald House charity. While at UNC, Smriti served as a resident advisor (RA) to first-year students, where she underwent several skills trainings focused on mental health, underserved student populations, and sexual assault, also planning events focused on community immersion. She taught reading to elementary-school students through the Atlanta Freedom School chapter, furthering her teaching skills by designing a Decoding DNA course for high schoolers and tutoring general college chemistry. In lab settings, she genotyped in the Caron Lab with UNC’s School of Medicine and partook in Emory and Georgia Tech’s PERSE program focused on acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and personalized medicine implications. Through this program, she also shadowed many healthcare providers at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA). She first heard about genetic counseling at GAGC's first annual interest camp at Emory, continuing her interest by shadowing multiple counselors in prenatal, pediatric, cancer, and reproductive genetics at UNC Hospitals and Duke University. She is joyful to be back in Atlanta and grow as a genetic counselor within a framework of equity, multicultural competency, and quality patient care. In her free time, Smriti loves to hike outdoors with friends and family, read books and poetry, and dance nonsensically to R&B.