Lauren Morse MS '18

Lauren studied nanotechnology engineering at the University of Waterloo before switching to a program that allowed her to specialize in genetics and counseling. She developed advocacy skills on a crisis line and in other positions, including as a client support volunteer at the SHORE Centre for those seeking pregnancy tests, sexual education resources, and information-based support about pregnancy. Lauren was a leader of the UW sex education team for two years, where she revamped the program to allow first year seminars to have inclusive material for all incoming students. She acquired research experience in University of Waterloo nanotechnology, psychology, biochemistry, and biology research labs, including as a member of the UW iGEM molecular biology team and in her honors thesis on a protein found in Xenopus laevis.

As an international student, do you have tips for other international students exploring genetic counseling program in the US?

Apply, apply, apply! Genetic counseling is very competitive everywhere, and it is hard to get accepted without a complete application, including significant work experience and/or shadowing experience. Figure out how much you are willing to spend on applications and interviews and apply to every program you are interested in. Applying to ten programs in 2016 was worth it for me, as I'm now training for my dream job and know I will never have trouble finding employment.

What experiences helped you prepare for a genetic counseling graduate program?

Working on a crisis line as an undergraduate student helped me develop confidence in myself. Shadowing and volunteering at the Grand River Cancer Centre and learning from my supervisor there also gave me a great understanding of the field and confirmed that this was what I wanted to do for my career. I would encourage anyone interested in becoming a genetic counselor to shadow, volunteer, or interview as many genetic counsellors as possible before applying. Having a record of contact with many genetic counselors on your application shows your passion for the field and can lead to better admissions results.

What is your favorite part of being in the genetic counseling program at Sarah Lawrence College?

I think the word that sums it up is the atmosphere. The campus is beautiful, and I love living just above New York City. I saw a lot of the things I'd been dying to visit just before my first term started, but I still love to go out after my rotations, or plan a day on the weekend to go downtown for dinner and a cool show or museum. Our class often says that it's nice to have a large "instant" group of friends that we can live with, study with, or go out with. It's also cool to be in a program that's so well-known in the field. They do a great job providing supplemental activities where we get to have unique experiences learning about people with disabilities or about our emotions in the counseling room. I'm glad I'm in a world where everyone loves the movie Inside Out and the work of Carl Rogers as much as I do!