Graduates of the University of Pennsylvania Master of Science in Genetic Counseling Program
Class of 2021
Avi Ananthrajah, MS, CGC
Avi is from Toronto, Canada. He obtained his undergraduate degree in Microbiology and Immunology from McGill University. He spent his summers at Public Health Ontario Laboratories studying plasmid-mediated antibiotic resistance and was looking to pursue a career in infection prevention and control. After volunteering in the Department of Medical Genetics at Montreal Children’s Hospital and working at a student-run nightline service, he decided to shift his focus to genetic counseling. Avi’s interests include cancer risk reduction and the impact of social behavior on health decisions. He is now a genetic counselor in the Basser Center for BRCA at Penn Medicine.
Jamie Atondo, MS, CGC
Jamie is from Williamsport Pennsylvania. She graduated from Lycoming College in December of 2018 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a minor in psychology. During the summer between junior and senior year she completed an internship at Geisinger that involved evaluating Geisinger’s universal Lynch syndrome screening protocol. At Geisinger Jamie shadowed genetic counselors in prenatal, pediatrics, cancer and research settings. After graduating from college, she returned to Geisinger as a prenatal genetic counselor assistant to gain further experience. After graduating from the master's in genetic counseling program in 2020, Jamie began work as a pediatric genetic counselor with the Geisinger Health System.
Kylie Borden, MS, CGC
Kylie was born and raised in southeast Texas. She graduated from Southwestern University in 2017 with a B.S. in Biochemistry. As an undergraduate student, she worked as a research assistant at Southwestern University and various other research institutions in Texas. Following graduation, she moved to Washington, D.C. to begin a research fellowship through the National Cancer Institute in Dr. Susan Gottesman's lab, studying the regulation of the stress response in Escherichia coli. In addition to lab work at the NIH, Kylie spent time shadowing genetic counselors, attending conferences, and generally learning as much as possible about the Genetic Counseling profession. Kylie is now a cancer genetic counselor at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.
Jacqueline Cappadocia, MS, CGC
Although Jacqueline is a Toronto native she is no stranger to the Philadelphia area, graduating from Villanova University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree. Jacqueline is eager to make a contribution to the field of genetic counseling both in a clinical and research capacity. She conducted her thesis research in collaboration with the Center for Cornelia de Lange Syndrome and Related Diagnoses at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and investigated the prevalence of Eosinophilic Esophagitis in children with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome. Jacqueline is the 2020 recipient of the Marie Barr Genetic Counseling Award. She is now a genetic counselor in the Basser Center for BRCA at Penn Medicine.
Stacey Cohen, MS, CGC
Stacey is from Livingston, New Jersey. She graduated from Barnard College of Columbia University in May 2019 with a degree in neuroscience and behavior. During her time in college, she performed research on contextual fear learning and worked on a crisis hotline. Her master's thesis focused on quality-of-life in children with developmental and epileptic encephalopathies. As a genetic counseling student, she worked part-time as a genetic counseling assistant at the Epilepsy Neurogenetics Initiative at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she now works as a Genetic Counselor. In her free time, she enjoys baking and playing video games.
Brigitte Cronier, MS
Brigitte graduated from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, over ten years ago, and majored in Neuroscience. After college, she explored many career options and considered going to medical school. It was through this process that she discovered genetic counseling. Throughout her graduate school years, Brigitte planned to specialize in cancer genetics and enjoyed working on her thesis project studying direct-to-consumer genetic testing for cancer risk. She is now working as a cancer genetic counselor at Community Hospital, Grand Valley Oncology in Colorado. Outside of genetic counseling, she loves karaoke, cooking, and aerial arts.
Jeshua DeJesse, MS, CGC
Jeshua is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended Binghamton University where he majored in Biology and was a research assistant in a lab studying plant speciation. Jeshua also volunteered for Crisis Text Line and a hospital near his college. His thesis project studied extracolonic screening in the Lynch Syndrome population. Jeshua is now working as a pediatric genetic counselor in the Clinical Genetics Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Jeshua is a big fan of comedy, his ill-behaved dog, and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Isaac Elysee, MS, CGC
Isaac is from New York, NY. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in 2019 from Cornell University, where he studied Biological Sciences with a concentration in Genetics, Genomics, and Development. As an undergraduate, Isaac conducted research into the genetics of intestinal lymphatic system development in mice and trained in peer counseling. Isaac’s interest in genetic counseling stemmed from a desire to make genetics approachable and to help destigmatize genetics and broaden its reach in underserved communities. He is now working as a genetic counselor in the Division of Translational Medicine and Human Genetics at Penn Medicine.
Isaac enjoys reading, podcasts, watching basketball, and doing impersonations of his mom in his (very limited) free time.
Laura Hennessy, MS, CGC
Laura graduated from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia in 2014 where she majored in Biology. She spent the following five years working in both basic science and clinical research investigating neurodegenerative conditions including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia. Laura hopes to pursue a genetic counseling career that incorporates both clinical and research functions within the field of neurodegeneration. She is now working as a genetic counselor in the Division of Translational Medicine and Human Genetics at Penn Medicine.
Sarah Howe, MS, CGC
Sarah is from western Massachusetts and studied biology at the University of Vermont (UVM). After graduating she worked as a research technician, teaching assistant, and academic advisor within UVM’s biology department for three years. As an advisor assisting students in assessing their passions, strengths, and career thoughts, she found her way to her own ideal career of genetic counseling. While the transition to living in a large city was intimidating, she loves the vibrancy of Philly and its people. She is now working as a genetic counselor in the Penn Telegenetics Program. She hopes to learn all she can from this city as a genetic counselor before returning to a more rural life.
Anna Iversen, MS
Anna is from Boston and graduated from Northeastern University in 2018, where she majored in Health Science and minored in Biology and Psychology. As an undergraduate, she interned at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Massachusetts General Hospital as a Newborn Hearing Screener and Intraoperative Nerve Monitoring Technician. Before matriculating at Penn, she worked full-time in clinical research in the Neurology department at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Anna was the 2020-2021 LEND Fellow and through LEND worked on a Leadership Project for maternal-child health. She is also passionate about ethics and is pursuing a thesis on Ethics in Oncology. Anna is now working as a genetic counselor in the Perinatal Diagnostic Center at Stanford Children's Hospital.
Emma Kennedy, MS, CGC
Originally from Olney, Maryland, Emma graduated from the University of Delaware in 2017 with degrees in Biology and Philosophy and a minor in music. At UD, she performed research on sea urchin RNA using CRISPR/cas9 technology and participated in numerous volunteer activities through the service organization Alpha Phi Omega. Post-graduation, Emma pursued her interest in genetic counseling by working as a genetic counseling assistant for GeneDx and shadowing in various genetics clinics. She also volunteered with Shady Grove Hospital and Crisis Text Line. Emma now works in both the Division of Translational Medicine and Human Genetics and the Genetics Diagnostic Lab at Penn Medicine.
In her free time Emma likes to read, workout, and teach Irish dance.
Samantha Krahling, MS, CGC
Sam is a Marylander through and through, as she grew up in Southern MD and attended University of Maryland for her undergraduate degree in biology. After graduation, she remained in Maryland working at GeneDx, where she decided she wanted to pursue genetic counseling. In 2018, Sam packed her bags and moved to Philadelphia to work at CHOP’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment. This is where she gained an interest in prenatal genetics, which continues today. Sam is now a prenatal genetic counselor for Integrated Genetics.
When she’s not working, Sam’s favorite thing to do is run along the Schuylkill River Trail.
Michaela Mundt, MS
Michaela is from Paradise, CA, and attended the University of California Davis, where she earned bachelor’s degrees in Genetics and History. While there, she threw hammer on the NCAA Division 1 Track and Field Team. She has loved genetics since taking her first pedigree in 7th grade and was drawn to genetic counseling because of the close relationships genetic counselors have with their patients. Michaela’s thesis explores the perceptions of clinical supervisors working with multiple graduate programs. After graduation, she will continue this research as she works as a Prenatal Genetic Counselor for Integrated Genetics in California.
Laura Rohan, MS
Laura grew up in State College, Pennsylvania, and received her undergraduate degree from Penn State University, majoring in microbiology and minoring in German. After graduating in 2018, she worked for a year in a genomics laboratory at Penn State, where she recruited patients to a study on rare microdeletion syndromes. She was drawn to the field of genetic counseling due to her familial experience of having a sister with autism and a brother with a craniofacial disorder. Laura is now working as a pediatric genetic counselor at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Her favorite hobby is dancing, primarily swing dancing.
Erica Trujillo, MS
Erica is from the Philadelphia suburbs and is delighted to be close to home while she pursues her graduate degree. She graduated from the University of Richmond in 2014 with a B.S. in biology, and worked in clinical research prior to attending the UPenn genetic counseling program. She was drawn to the profession by the meaningful collaborative partnerships that genetic counselors form with their patients as they navigate the world of genetics. She will be doing that as a genetic counselor at the University Hospital of University Health Care System in Atlanta, GA.
When Erica is not working, she can be found baking or singing, sometimes even at the same time!
Class of 2022
Raza Chaudhry, MS
Raza is from Pakistan. He graduated from Penn State with a B.S. in biochemistry & molecular biology in 2018. For the next two years, he worked as a Research Technologist for the Cavener lab at Penn State where he utilized the CRISPR/Cas-9 system in mice. During his time at the lab, he realized he wanted to combine his passion for genetics with patient advocacy. He is interested in prenatal, cardiac, and metabolic specialties within Genetic Counseling. His long-term goals include increasing access to genetic counseling services within the South-Asian community. Outside genetic counseling, he is an avid concertgoer and loves playing video games.
Haley Crane, MS
Haley is originally from Ellicott City, Maryland. She graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland, College Park in the spring of 2020, where she majored in cell biology & genetics and minored in Spanish. During her undergraduate years, she was involved in the University Honors program, Delta Gamma fraternity, Terp Thon, and she studied abroad in Spain. She spent two summers as a genetic counseling intern in the Center for Inherited Heart Disease at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she gained valuable exposure to the field. In her free time, Haley enjoys traveling, spending time outside, and going to the beach.
Allayna Frank, MS
Allayna is a 2020 graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology’s Biomedical Sciences program. She studied and worked in the fields of biomedical engineering, stem cell research, ICU care, home senior care, and even hospitality prior to discovering the field of genetic counseling, the ideal combination of her passions for medicine, teaching, psychology, and the study of developmental disabilities. Allayna’s greatest career aspiration is to help patients and their families find the maximum comfort and autonomy possible with their diagnoses. Originally from Northern New York, she is excited to begin her career in a city that is completely new to her!
Yael Freiberg, MS
Yael is from Los Angeles, California. She majored in biological sciences and minored in gender studies at the University of Southern California. She studied Robertsonian translocation in a yeast lab at USC, where she completed a master’s degree in molecular genetics and biochemistry. After leaving the lab, she worked alongside genetic counselors at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, where she gained clinical exposure and also enrolled patients into the USC arm of the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network. During this time, she also worked at Trader Joe’s! When she’s not studying, Yael enjoys exploring Philadelphia and cooking.
Nicole Kasatkin, MS
Nicole is a Philadelphia native. In May 2020, she completed her undergraduate degree at Temple University, where she majored in biology with teaching and double minored in cognitive neuroscience and chemistry. While at Temple, she became a certified peer educator, conducted research for two years at the Center for Metabolic Disease Research at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, and taught students in the Philadelphia School District through Temple’s TuTeach program. She also actively helped individuals through the Crisis Text Line and as a volunteer at a local hospital. In her free time, she is a ballroom dance enthusiast, avid traveler, and fan of all pets!
Deirdre Kessler, MS
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Deirdre majored in French at Pomona College in Claremont, California. Before starting at Penn, she worked as a medical scribe in Brooklyn and an English assistant at a high school in France, and she volunteered at Crisis Text Line and GiGi’s Playhouse. Her interests in language, health literacy, and solving puzzles of all kinds led her to pursue genetic counseling, a field that she believes combines all three. Outside of school, Deirdre enjoys studying computational linguistics and geography, watching British TV shows, and searching for new recipes. She plans to specialize in pediatrics.
Allie Mazzella, MS
Allie is originally from New Jersey, but has been in Boston since college. She is a 2016 graduate of Brandeis University, where she double-majored in Biology and Chemistry. Due to the passing of a close childhood friend, Allison has been involved in the Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) community for many years. She has spent the past few years doing SMA and neuromuscular disorders research at Boston Children’s Hospital and Cure SMA, as well as volunteering at Girls on the Run, Boston Cares and BARCC. Allison enjoys building Legos, cheering for the Eagles, and always wearing green!
Olga Oretsky, MS
Olga is from Fair Lawn, New Jersey. She went to the University of Pennsylvania for her undergraduate education and double-majored in biochemistry and psychology. After graduating, she worked as a research fellow in the Affective Neuroscience and Pain laboratory at the National Institutes of Health, where she studied various psychosocial aspects of pain perception. Prior to graduate school, she briefly attended a seminary in Jerusalem and then worked as a tutor at a local community college in eastern Pennsylvania. Olga is particularly interested in learning more about psychiatric genetic counseling during her training.
Cassady Pelphrey, MS
Cassie is from a small town (actually a village) called West Jefferson, Ohio. She attended the University of Kentucky and graduated in May 2020 with a B.S. in Biology with a focus in genetics and a minor in psychology. Cassie became interested in genetic counseling at the age of sixteen upon meeting her own family’s genetic counselor who continued to foster her interest in the field. Cassie has been involved in the FH Foundation for familial hypercholesterolemia as an advocate for awareness; she completed 2 years of research in undergrad; and she was a resident advisor for 2.5 years, as well. Cassie’s hobbies are reading and trying to make people laugh on Zoom.
Anna Platt, MS
Anna grew up in Oakton, Virginia. She graduated from University of Delaware in 2019 with a B.S. in Neuroscience. A long time Special Olympics coach, she knew she wanted to help families with genetic conditions. After college, she worked as the Genetic Counselor Assistant for the Genetics team at Inova Fairfax Hospital. There, she had the opportunity to observe NICU consults, as well as pediatric, neurology, and cardiology clinics. Her experiences have led to her interest in the application of genetic testing and counseling in the NICU and other inpatient departments. In her free time she is cheering on the Washington Nationals and Capitals with her friends, family and dog, Archie.
Jake Squicciarini, MS
Jake is from Albion, New York, a small town in western New York right between Rochester and Buffalo. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Rochester in 2019 where he majored in molecular genetics with a minor in clinical psychology. Before joining the genetic counseling program at Penn, Jake worked as a genetic counseling assistant in the Division of Pediatric Genetics at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester and volunteered for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Jake is interested in the counseling of individuals with differences in sexual development and hopes to further explore the role of genetic counselors in DSD clinics.
Katie Rose Sullivan, MS
Katie Rose grew up in Rutherford, New Jersey and graduated from Haverford College in 2018 with a degree in biology and a minor in neuroscience. After graduating, she worked at the University of Pennsylvania for two years investigating cerebrovascular rare diseases. Katie Rose is a long-standing member of the New Day Community, a nonprofit organization that provides a respite summer vacation for adults with developmental disabilities, where she particularly enjoys mentoring first-time counselors.
Bekah Wang, MS
Baijia (Bekah) is from Taiyuan, China, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in neurobiology and a minor in German. As an undergraduate, she worked in Wisconsin National Primate Research Center with macaque monkeys in an Episodic Memory Project. Additionally, she volunteered at Briarpatch Youth Services in Madison as a volunteer counselor and gained experience interacting with parents and their teenage kids. In her free time, Bekah enjoys hanging out with her cat, watching movies, and traveling.
Samantha Williams, MS
Sam is a Philly native, but has been living in New York for the past 10 years. She graduated from the double degree program between Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2014, receiving bachelor's degrees in biology and Jewish Thought. Since college, she has been working in clinical research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Her work there solidified her interest in research and oncology, and introduced her to genetic counseling. In her free time, she serves as referee for the wrestling tournaments her two cats participate in daily.
Corinne Zrada, MS
Corinne is from Moorestown, New Jersey, and graduated from the University of Miami in 2020. She was a Health Science major with minors in chemistry, biology, and psychology. As an undergraduate, Corinne participated in research involving a genetic screen on Drosophila melanogaster. Additionally, she was on the executive board of the Special Olympics club at the University of Miami. She is currently interested in clinical cancer genetics and is passionate about being a part of the growing field of genetics. Corinne enjoys staying active outdoors and spends her summers down the shore.