Class of 2025
Ziana Bhanji (she/her)
Growing up in Kenya, and understanding how access to genetic information can impact the quality of life of individuals and families proved to be especially relevant. My upbringing offered a unique perspective on the realities of people’s day-to-day lives, teaching me the importance of advocacy and community education in empowering individuals and communities. For this reason, I am thrilled to begin my studies as a genetic counseling graduate student at the University of Washington. I look forward to working towards increasing access of genetic counseling services to underrepresented populations. I eventually intend to create a network of genetic counseling resources to give back to my community in Mombasa, Kenya. In my free time, I love to explore the outdoors, go to concerts, cook, and spend time with my cat, Mango.
Gillian Carlos (she/her)
As a child of first-generation immigrants, I have experienced firsthand how difficult it can be to navigate the American healthcare system. I became passionate about changing the way healthcare services are delivered. After exploring numerous careers in healthcare, it was clear genetic counseling combines my interest in genetics and meaningful patient care. I look forward to beginning my training at the UW GCGP to provide access to equitable care across diverse communities. I am excited to cultivate meaningful patient relationships and reinforce community connections. Outside of work and school, I enjoy cooking, long walks, and trying out different coffee shops.
Mahi Gandhi (she/her)
I love that genetic counseling will allow me to educate and inform patients while also helping them feel heard and empowered to make their own decisions. Being multilingual and balancing two cultures as the child of Indian immigrant parents in America showed me the importance of culturally competent care and increasing access to genetic counseling. I am incredibly excited that the UW GCGP's focus on underserved communities, as well as its anti-racism and DEI efforts, align with my values and what I aspire to contribute to the field. In my free time, you can find me experimenting with a new baking recipe, running along a scenic route, or filling my sketchbook with drawings.
Claire Hillier (she/her)
I am thrilled to be pursuing a career in genetic counseling as it perfectly melds my passions for teaching, psychosocial counseling, and advocacy. Having previously worked as a Spanish interpreter at a free clinic and a legal advocate at the U.S.-Mexico border, I hope to continue serving diverse patient populations and working toward reducing health disparities. As a former health and science educator, I also hope to continue improving my science communication skills to make genetics accessible to patients from all backgrounds. In my free time, you can find me playing cello, teaching my dog new tricks, hiking, and running. I look forward to moving back to my home state of Washington to spend more time in the beautiful outdoors!
Ben Houston (he/him)
I am drawn to the fields of genetics and genomics due to the incredible discoveries and advancements made each and every day. As a genetic counselor, I will be an advocate that provides people from all backgrounds with beneficial knowledge for making informed decisions about their health and future. I am thrilled to be on this career path because genetic counseling is at the forefront of personalized and preventative health care which is improving the lives of countless people. The UW GCGP's belief that genetic counseling should be accessible to all and tailored toward the uniqueness of each person are principles I strongly believe in and will implement in my future career. Outside of class, I love hiking and exploring the outdoors, game nights, karaoke (earplugs encouraged), scary movies, reading, and spending hours in coffee shops.
Laura Leal Martinez (she/her)
Me llamo Laura y sere una consejera genetista (My name is Laura and I will be a genetic counselor). I am a first-generation Mexican-American who is passionate about improving healthcare for my community. As seen with my own family, I recognize the barriers to receiving quality healthcare for minority families who are affected by genetic conditions. Situations of this nature have motivated me to work in healthcare to help alleviate the burden immigrant families face with navigating our health system. The combination of helping underserved communities and my interest in genetics has led me to pursue a Master’s in genetic counseling. I am honored to form part of the UW GCGP Class of 2025! Outside of school, I enjoy exercise, exploring the outdoors, listening to music, cooking, baking, and exploring new cities to find their hidden gems.
Kim LeRoy (she/her)
I'm thrilled to begin my career as a genetic counselor, which will be a great way to blend my love of science while using my people skills to help educate my future patients. Having been on my own chronic illness journey for many years, I know just how challenging navigating the healthcare system can be for patients, and that finding an empathetic provider can make all the difference. I come from a background working in healthcare administration as well as public health policy, which will help me to advocate for my patients in a system that often works against the patients' best interests. I'm a Wisconsin native but have called Seattle home since 2016, and in my free time I love to make charcuterie boards, watch Packers games, and dote on my sweet pittie pup, Beefcake, and my African Grey Parrot, Lola.
Hannah Lewis (she/her)
I am so excited to be joining the GCGP at UW where I can learn more about counseling individuals from diverse backgrounds and providing equitable care. As a genetic counselor I want to increase individuals' access to resources and support through innovation and creative solutions to expand how we can connect with patients. In my free time I enjoy trying out new recipes, going hammocking with a good book, and exploring new places, all of which I can't wait to do in Seattle!
Winnie Monohan (she/her)
I was drawn towards genetic counseling because it is an intersection of my career interests in patient advocacy, health education, and providing patient-centered care. My previous experience working with families of rare chronic conditions have helped realize my passion for patient advocacy but also opened my eyes to gaps in accessible healthcare. The UW GCGP’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion aligns with my focus to increase equitable healthcare to underserved and minority populations. I am excited to join a field that is constantly evolving and to join a community that is dedicated towards empowering individuals to make informed decisions about their own health. In my free time, I enjoy taking long walks, experimenting with new recipes, puzzles, and photography.
Allison Pacheco (she/her)
I have been drawn to the field of genetic counseling for as long as I can remember, due to my personal and family history of a BRCA1 mutation. Genetic counseling is a perfect career for me because of the combination of patient-based care and genetics-based curriculum. The UW GCGP stood out to me because of how they have repeatedly shown their commitment to anti-racism and diversity not only within their school, but in their community. Being Latina, I have seen firsthand the subtle and not-so-subtle mistreatment that Latino peoples face in our healthcare system, and as a genetic counselor I look forward to enacting positive change in that aspect. Outside of school, I enjoy finding a great boba spot and sitting down to draw when I get the time.
Alanis Quinones Vega (she/her)
Genetic counseling combines my love for healthcare, genetics, and my community. Living in Puerto Rico, I've always felt frustrated seeing the lack of resources that could help our citizens. Not only does the island lack health professionals, but genetic specialists are practically nonexistent. In becoming a genetic counselor, I aim to reduce barriers for Puerto Rican citizens in need of genetic services and for those wishing to work in the field. I am passionate about understanding how to best serve minority communities. I am excited to be part of a program that has values matching my own; moreover, I’m certain it will help me achieve my goals. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music such as jazz or K-pop, playing video games, and spending time with loved ones; I also love theme parks, concerts, and traveling.
Deandre Richie (he/him)
Since I first discovered genetic counseling, I knew it was the career path for me. I discovered my passion for genetics in undergrad and thought I wanted to go into research, but my time in a lab quickly showed me I was wrong. As a queer person of color, I am no stranger to the systemic inequities present in the healthcare system--something that cultivated my desire to address and rectify them. I’m excited to be joining the UW GCGP in order to develop the skills necessary to become a great genetic counselor, and further my knowledge of genomics. It’s my hope that I can use my education to help identify and advocate for historically underserved populations in the field. In my free time I like to ski, read, listen to music, and try as many foods as humanly possible.
Shivangi Sinha (she/her)
Genetic counseling is a field for pioneers rooted in human connection, equity, growth, and lifelong learning. As an Indian-American woman from a state with few genetic counselors, I look forward to bringing my perspectives into this program and meeting like-minded peers dedicated to anti-racism and justice. With genetic counseling evolving rapidly, I am excited to ebb and flow with it while working towards goals in program leadership and public health. Outside of class, I am passionate about trying new coffee shops, working out, doing yoga, making ceramics, cooking vegetarian dishes, and mentoring the next generation of genetic counselors!
Brittany Stowers (she/her)
From a young age, I was exposed to the field of genetic counseling and the profound impact of rare diseases in my own family. This experience sparked my passion for understanding the intricate genetic factors behind such conditions and ignited my interest in the field of genetic counseling. As a Southeast Asian-American, I am deeply committed to addressing the disparities in healthcare access faced by underrepresented populations and ethnic minorities. My goal is to provide comprehensive genetic counseling services and work towards making these services more accessible to those who need them the most. With empathy, cultural sensitivity, and a drive to empower patients, I am dedicated to positively impacting the lives of individuals and families through genetic counseling. I am elated to begin my training at the UW GCGP and explore everything Seattle has to offer! Outside of school, I enjoy traveling, reading, learning new languages, running, and working out.
Natasha Verzosa (she/her)
I knew I wanted to pursue genetic counseling when I saw the impact it could have in mitigating guilt and stigma surrounding disease, as well as provide me the opportunity to educate and continuously learn about innovative medical technology and advancements in biology. I am specifically interested in working with vulnerable populations and am confident that the UW GCGP will provide me with the necessary tools to provide genetic counseling to underserved communities. Coming from Vancouver, BC, I love hiking and being outdoors with my two dogs, Apollo and Benedict, but am also a big fan of staying comfortable inside with a good book or video game. I look forward to promoting equity and inclusion in healthcare, and to contributing meaningfully to the field of genetic counseling!
Cassie Vestal (she/her)
Genetic counseling allows one to be an expert in genetics, a patient advocate, and an educator within the healthcare system. This blend is what excites me about the genetic counseling profession. I look forward to the chance to empower my patients with knowledge and agency. I am drawn to the UW GCGP because of their commitment to equity and anti-racism in both higher education and in genetic counseling, as well as the kindness and devotion of program leadership. I am looking forward to discovering the culture, natural beauty, and diversity of the Pacific Northwest and the patient populations I will have the privilege with which to interact. My other passions include reading, Scottish Highland dancing, nature photography, and making/eating ice cream.