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Current student bios

Class of 2020

Jimena Prado is originally from Mexico City. She moved to Canada when she was 15 years old to complete her high school education and stayed to go to university in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Jimena graduated from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology & Immunology in 2017. While at Halifax, she served as an executive at the Dalhousie International Students Association where she supported and advocated for the international community at the university. Jimena also volunteered at the Maritime Medical Genetics Service where she was able to shadow genetic counselors. After graduation, she worked at a private company providing clinical trials with logistical support and sample management. She also continued volunteering at various organizations including the Emergency Department at the IWK Health Centre, the Sexual Assault & Harassment Phone Line at Dalhousie Student Union, the Halifax Refugee Clinic and the Canadian Red Cross. She also volunteered as a camp counsellor at Brigadoon Village and loved every second of it. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, drinking coffee and practicing yoga. 

 

Rachel Simon grew up in the small town of New Market, MN. She graduated summa cum laude in May of 2018 from North Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology and a minor in Psychology. As an undergraduate student, she worked as a research assistant in a wheat genetics lab at the USDA. She also volunteered as an on-call advocate for the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center in Fargo, ND and a side-walker for NDSU's Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies program. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, fiancé, and their cat. She also enjoys traveling and attempting to craft and bake.

Grace Bronken was born and raised in South Lake Tahoe, California. In 2018, she graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a B.S. in Psychobiology and a minor in Society and Genetics. As an undergrad, Grace conducted research with the Undiagnosed Diseases Network, counseled fellow students under the UCLA Grand Depression Challenge, and studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland. During her time at UCLA, she was also actively involved in the Genetic Counseling Student Interest Group and became the club president during her senior year. In her free time, Grace enjoys skiing, traveling to new places, and rooting for the Minnesota Twins and Vikings!

Kahlen Darr, originally from Celina, Ohio, graduated summa cum laude from Northern Arizona University (NAU) with a B.S. in Biology, a minor in Chemistry and certifications in Wildlife Management and Conservation Biology. During his undergraduate degree he spent time on Saipan in the Marianas Islands archipelago conducting independent research on the effect of invasive cover types on the endemic bird species of Saipan. During his time at NAU he was a peer teaching assistant for General Biology I and II. After graduation Kahlen spent some time as a wildlife technician conducting surveys for Mexican Spotted Owls in the White Mountains of Arizona. He worked with terminally ill patients and their families providing socialization and respite care. Kahlen is also a certified dog trainer and as such enjoys spending time working and hiking alongside his Catahoula mix Isaac. 

Amanda de Leon is from Los Angeles, CA. In 2016 she earned her B.S in Psychobiology from UCLA. While an undergraduate, she did a fellowship with UCLA-Harbor putting on free health fairs, and conducting research on the Affordable Care Act in a Latino community. She was also a food educator at an all girl’s orphanage. After graduating, she worked as a substitute teacher and behavior technician. She also began volunteering with the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center as a crisis counselor. She has shadowed cancer and prenatal genetic counselors, and interned with cancer genetic counselors in the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and the LA County + USC medical center. In her free time, she enjoys telenovelas, cooking, Boba, and bike riding.

Jennine Deckert is from Winnipeg, Canada. In 2017 she graduated from the University of Manitoba with her B. Sc. Honors Genetics with minors in Chemistry and Psychology. During her undergraduate degree she researched gene expression in mosquitos, and for her Honors thesis investigated the interaction of two enzymes in estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. As an undergraduate she taught adaptive swimming lessons to children and young adults with a variety of disabilities, while also volunteering as a reproductive health counselor for teens. Most recently she has worked as a sexual assault and crisis counselor, as well as a medical assistant at a community health clinic. In her free time she enjoys travelling, camping, playing ringette and trying new foods.

Maribeth Golm grew up in Howell, Michigan. She graduated with a Bachelors in Science from the University of Notre Dame in 2016, where she obtained a double major in biology and anthropology. During this time, she was a genetic counseling intern at Saint Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka, Indiana. After graduation, Maribeth worked as a Genetic Counseling Assistant in the Cancer Genetics Clinic at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. She also volunteered as a hotline and hospital advocate at a rape crisis center. Maribeth loves to spend her time hiking, being outdoors, bowling, reading, and playing board games.

Mrunmayee Shete grew up in Nashik, India. She moved to USA when she was 17 to attend University of Washington. In 2018, she graduated cum laude with B.S. in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. While at University of Washington, she worked as an undergraduate intern at the Nemhauser lab researching bioengineering plant shoot architecture using CRISPR to increase plant yield. She volunteered as a crisis counselor for Teen Link at Seattle Crisis Clinic and Crisis Text Line. She has also volunteered as a biology tutor at the Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society and a morning volunteer for ROOTS young adult shelter. Outside of school, Mrunmayee enjoys reading, being active, crocheting, playing with cats and learning new things.

Jenna Soukup is originally from Sleepy Eye, MN. In 2017 she graduated from South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and a minor in Microbiology. During her undergraduate degree Jenna spent time doing a variety of research projects, including one on the formation of metastasis in triple negative breast cancer. She also tutored organic chemistry and was a member of the American Chemical Society student group. In her free time, Jenna loves to crochet, craft, and cook and gets out to hike whenever she can! 

Bridget Winchester grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She graduated with distinction from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a degree in Genetics. As an undergraduate, she led an introduction to biochemistry discussion and a peer mentoring group for an honors biology program (Biocore). She also enjoyed leading an after-school science club for elementary school students. After graduating she moved to Marshfield, Wisconsin, to work as a genetic counselor assistant at PreventionGenetics. In Marshfield, she volunteered with Heartland Hospice and the Personal Development Center as a SANE phone advocate. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors, reading, and practicing yoga.

 

Class of 2019

Alexandra Wallgren is from Hermantown, Minnesota. In 2017, she graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Spanish and Hispanic Studies from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. While in Omaha, she was involved in comparative genomics research that focused on the impact of human activity on lotic water systems in the Galapagos. In addition, she worked as a teaching assistant and tutor for Creighton’s Genetics course. Her volunteer work includes mentorship through Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands and hotline service for the Women’s Center for Advancement, as well as counselor work for Camp Abilities and leadership in a local Girl Scout troop. In her free time, Alexandra enjoys exploring the Superior Hiking Trail, singing in small ensemble, and making food.

Alina Sitaula was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal. She moved to the United States when she was 18 to attend Southeastern Louisiana University for her undergraduate degree. She graduated with a degree in biology (micro/molecular concentration) and a minor in Chemistry. While at Southeastern, she worked as an undergraduate research assistant and participated in studies such as “Modulation of mt-DNA level with exercise” and “Analysis of Irisin and RbAp48 levels in various tissues of mice subjected to exercise”. After graduation, she worked as a lab researcher in National Jewish Health and then as a PRA in the TEDDY/DAISY research at Barbara Davis Center, CU Anschutz Medical Campus. She also volunteers as a sexual assault hotline advocate at the Blue Bench.  Her hobbies include reading, baking, cooking and watching soccer.

Andrea Stoddard earned a B.S. in Cellular/Molecular Biology with a Chemistry minor from Utah State University in 2016. As an undergraduate she worked as a supplemental instructor, teaching students General Biology. After graduation she worked on a research project with the U of M in the genetic counseling department. She has loved volunteering in the community:  at a shelter for victims of sexual and domestic assault, a community emergency assistance program and as a big sister in the Big Brother Big sister program. During her free time, Andrea enjoys rock climbing, swimming, scuba diving, traveling and playing with her three adorable puppies. 

Dana Miller is originally from Regina, SK, Canada. She earned a B.Sc. with Specialization in Molecular Genetics from the University of Alberta in 2016. During her undergraduate degree, she researched chaperone involvement in cardiac development, and enjoyed attending various conferences related to developmental genetics. She held a leadership training team position at the University of Alberta’s Peer Support Centre, which provides supportive listening services to the campus community. She explored other volunteer opportunities at The Edmonton Down Syndrome Society as well as at The Steadward Centre, helping individuals with impairments to be physically active. In her spare time, she enjoys being physically active: biking, weight lifting, skiing, and golfing. She also enjoys cooking, especially on Edmonton Oilers game days.

 

Dayna Cohen grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Minnesota in 2014. During her undergraduate career, she participated in tiger conservation research in Thailand, and worked at a summer camp in Wisconsin for 5 summers. After graduation, Dayna was employed by a gastroenterology clinic as a Patient Coordinator for a year where she served as a patient advocate by coordinating their care and communication with their physician. Soon after, she joined Fairview Health Services as the Medical Secretary for the Genetic Counseling Department, where she assisted in Cancer, Prenatal, and Pediatric clinics, as well as the Molecular Diagnostic Lab. In her free time, Dayna enjoys hiking, reading, playing tennis, all desserts, and Gopher sports.

 

Elena Fisher is from St. Louis, MO and graduated with a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Missouri University of Science and Technology in 2015. Following graduation, she worked as a research technician at Washington University School of Medicine in a lab studying ALS and Alzheimer’s disease. During this time, she wrote and submitted grants, helped manage the finances of the lab, and learned a lot about neurodegenerative diseases, especially through her hospice volunteer work. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors, crafting, traveling, reading, and eating!

 

Heewon Lee is an alumna of the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism and women’s studies. Since 2014, she has worked in the University of Minnesota’s division of gynecologic oncology as a study coordinator and research assistant. Heewon helped create a mobile app called mAGIC that educates ovarian cancer patients about genetic counseling, and became the patient recruiter and health navigator for the study. She administers assessments for another study examining cognitive decline during and after chemotherapy. Heewon is also the program coordinator for the GOLD study, which surveys a cohort of gynecological cancer survivors to determine risk factors for poor quality of life outcomes. Outside of work, Heewon enjoys taiko drumming, camping with her husband and two young sons, and running around the many lakes of Minneapolis.

 

Iman Kashmola was born and raised in sunny San Diego, California, and has since made the Midwest her home. She graduated magna cum laude from Iowa State University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Genetics, a Certificate in Leadership Studies, and initiation into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. While a Cyclone, she was an active peer mentor in the Genetics Learning Community and led tutoring and Supplemental Instruction sessions in both biology and leadership development courses alike. After graduating, Iman completed a genetic counseling summer internship at the Iowa Institute of Human Genetics, and has since been working for the Molecular Otolaryngology and Renal Research Laboratories (MORL) at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. While at the MORL, she drafted patient result letters and answered questions from healthcare providers regarding variant interpretation and genotype-phenotype correlations in families with hereditary hearing loss. When not studying, Iman is an avid baker and enjoys performing sun salutations with her fellow yogis.

Katy Schroepfer is excited to continue as a Gopher after graduating from UMN in 2017 with a BS in mathematics and minors in computer science and biology. During her undergrad, she was a Resource Counseling Advocate at a local domestic violence shelter, an officer on the Pre-Genetic Counseling Club, volunteered with Miss Amazing, and completed directed research exploring the human microbiome as part of the Blekhman Lab. She also worked as a lab assistant at the Genomics Center. In her free time, she enjoys watching football, reading, eating sushi, and daydreaming about owning a dog. 

Valerie Kruger grew up in Bremerton, WA. She graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in 2016 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. As an undergraduate, she completed a summer internship with the HIV Vaccine Trials Network at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. After graduation, she worked as an advocate at the YWCA’s ALIVE domestic violence shelter answering the crisis line and connecting domestic violence survivors to resources in the community. She also worked with the Genetic Support Foundation, an independent non-profit created to increase access to genetic counseling and objective information about genetics. In her free time, she enjoys reading, baking, being active, and trying new food.