Monisha Sebastin MS '18

Monisha is from Chennai, India. She pursued genetic engineering at SRM University in India. Because of her interest in research, she decided to pursue internships and participate in conferences that exposed her to various research fields. One conference enlightened her about genetic counseling. Understanding the importance of job shadowing in defining her career interests, she hunted for shadowing opportunities in India to no avail. However, there was a silver lining. She moved to Boston in 2014 to carry out her thesis project at Harvard Medical School, where she later continued as a research assistant until mid-2016. While in the US, she was able to find genetic counselor shadowing opportunities. The more she interacted with genetic counselors, the more she fell in love with the profession. Being an international student with no prior exposure to the field before to moving to the US, it was indeed challenging to get into a program. But the constructive feedback from genetic counselors and constant support and help from family and amazing friends in Boston made it possible.

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

  • Pre-requisites are very important and might vary a bit from school to school.
  • Do NOT give up if your applications are rejected. Schools usually try to make sure that they select an international student who can handle not just the coursework, but also the emotional stress of staying away from family. In my experience, if you really want it, keep trying until you get in. (I got in during my third round of applications.)
  • Time difference is an important factor to keep in mind.
  • Customize your statement of purpose and resume to suit an American reader.
  • For most schools, GRE, and TOEFL scores are as important as your grades.

How do you typically get to school and your clinical rotations?

My apartment is close to campus, so I walk, except during the days we have classes that go until 9 p.m. Those days, my friend from class gives me a ride in her car. I use public transportation to get to my rotation sites which is definitely manageable. The rotation coordinator is very good at allotting rotation sites, and she takes into consideration if the student has a car or not.