A Week in the Shoes
by Jasmine Wong
Let me introduce you to the first year class! My name is Jasmine Wong and I am one of many Canadians in our 22 student class. Our class comes from a diversity of nationalities and background experiences. We have students from Kosovo, India, Jordan, United States, United Arab Emirates and Canada. Genetic counseling has been chosen as a second career for some students in our class after already having had careers such as theatrical lighting designer, teacher, financial analyst, medical photographer, oncologist, laboratory technician and mother. We are very different in some ways but we share the commonality of wanting to learn about genetic counseling and each other.
This week, we all went out for our classmate Katharine Stoate's birthday dinner at Bronxville's "Wild Ginger". Our class is very close and almost everyone made it or sent cards. The close knit group provides a lot of support for fellow students, but also helps us to create networks for the future.
The first semester was at a moderate pace which allowed us to familiarize ourselves to our new environment. This second semester has been off to a busy start. It is a semester different from others because it the heaviest for course work and is our first introduction to the required thesis.
I will describe a typical day in our program, to show what it's like on a day to day basis. For instance, this week, almost everyone will be presenting in pairs in Public Health class. While working as a genetic counselor you are often met with very diverse clients, from a range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, and each of our groups will be presenting a different culture. I have paired up with Nadeen Jaradat and met her this morning at the Sarah Lawrence Library. Nadeen and Rifaat Rawashdeh are from Jordan and are part of an exchange program between Jordan University of Science and Technology and Sarah Lawrence. I am also taking part in the exchange, and will be doing a rotation in Jordan this summer, along with Monique Simard. In preparation for our exchange, we decided to present on the Jordanian Culture.
After this, I met with Lauren Thomas, another student and we had lattes at Bronxville's "Slave to the Grind" coffee shop, and studied for Reprogenetics. Reprogenetics class is taught by Dr. Susan Gross and Suzanne Carter and has been really interesting. Sarah Lawrence encourages as much hands-on learning as possible, that will help us to understand the feel and flow of the genetic counseling field. As an example, last week each student group was given a case study. Each group had to decipher the case and present their findings. Rifaat Rawadesh and David Sharpe presented on ambiguous genitalia. Our professors and classmates were all very impressed.
Our class has been able to learn through role playing in our Delivery of Genetic Services class taught by Elsa Reich. After each group's role plays, there is a discussion by the entire class about the strengths and weaknesses. Most of us find this class very challenging but at the same time, rewarding.
Our physiology class is taught by Peggy Cottrell. Peggy was a physiotherapist before becoming a genetic counselor and her experience adds depth to our program. The class is broken up with student presentations of diseases. Some of the diseases do not have a known genetic origin such as Multiple Sclerosis which gives us an opportunity to learn about the unfamiliar. We are also encouraged to share any personal experiences we may have had with the disorders we are learning about. This week, we had a very interesting assignment about a course or a moment that changed our thoughts on the human condition. There were mixed feelings on the difficulty of this assignment but it seemed as though everyone had a good experience writing it. A large part of issues class is learning about how to write our thesis. So far, we have had weekly informal discussions where the students are able to bounce ideas around. Laura Hercher and Caroline Lieber help us shape and mature our ideas in forming our thesis.
Between classes, we talk about school related issues such as rotation and non-school related issues such as family and plans. Our days in second semester are very full and sometimes stressful, but the environment and our friendships makes it all go by quickly.