Amanda Gerard – Alumna Spotlight
Pediatrics Genetic Counselor, Texas Children’s Hospital
Hometown: Madison, MS
BA in Biological Science and Psychology (2015)
How, when, and why did you decide to study biology?
I developed an interest in biology during my science classes in high school. I was fascinated by many aspects of the field, but the unit about genetics particularly interested me during my AP biology course. I was not set on a specific career path when I started my undergraduate coursework, but I knew biology was a field that interested me and I chose to explore it further. I discovered my current field of genetic counseling through online research and through some of my biology courses.
Discuss the highlights of your undergraduate experience?
I used much of my time as an undergraduate to take courses that would help me determine my interests and what I wanted from my future career path. I enjoyed the variety of course offerings available to me through the biology department, which allowed me to learn about many different specialties within the field. Once I decided on genetic counseling as a career, I spent much of my time taking prerequisite courses for graduate school and participating in activities that would help strengthen my applications. Outside of my biology coursework, I was also a psychology major, a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, a member of the Ole Miss Band, and a frequent visitor of Big Bad Breakfast.
Talk about your path since graduation and career goals at this point?
I applied to genetic counseling programs during the fall of my senior year at the University of Mississippi. Shortly after graduating, I started a master’s degree program in genetic counseling at the The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. After graduating with my master’s degree two years later, I accepted a position as a genetic counselor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. I primarily work with pediatric patients in the genetics clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital. I am involved with seeing patients, contributing to research within the genetics field, and training new genetic counselors as a supervisor for the Baylor College of Medicine Genetic Counseling Program. I find my job immensely enjoyable and rewarding, and I hope to continue contributing to this unique and growing field of science in the future.