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Daniel Riconda '88, MS
- Received Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from SUNY Stony Brook
- "Stumbled into the field" of genetics after seeing a pamphlet on SLC's program at Stony Brook's career development office
Why did you choose Sarah Lawrence for graduate school? Why Human Genetics?
SLC was the biggest and best program for training genetic counselors at that time. I love(d) genetics and psychology and stumbled onto the field when I saw a pamphlet on the SLC program at the career development office at my undergraduate school of study.
How did your coursework prepare you for your fieldwork and eventual career?
I feel SLC’s Human Genetics Program prepared me for the challenges that I faced as a new graduate and gave me the foundation that has helped me to develop the skills I have needed to enjoy my work within the field of genetic counseling.
Where were your fieldwork assignments? What type of skills/knowledge did you acquire through your fieldwork, which have aided you in your professional life?
I spent time at Nassau County Medical Center, Long Island Jewish Hospital, Brookdale Hospital, and University of Connecticut in Farmington, among others. My favorite field work rotation was Long Island Jewish Hospital in the fall of my second year, but I also learned a great deal during my summer internship. The interactions I had with teachers, students, mentors and patients helped me.
What was the focus of your M.S. thesis?
A Master’s thesis was not required at the time of my graduation, but I did an extensive paper on Immune Deficiency syndromes
Where have you worked, and what have you worked on, since graduating?
My first place of employment was at University Medical Center, Jacksonville, Florida (1988-1992) providing prenatal and pediatric genetic counseling. In August of 1992, moved to Orlando, Florida (Arnold Palmer Hospital) to begin work at a new prenatal diagnostic center where I have helped to expand the program from one genetic counselor to five! We now provide prenatal, cancer, pediatric, reproductive medicine, and adult genetic counseling services at Arnold Palmer Hospital, Winnie Palmer Hospital and MD Anderson, Orlando Cancer Center. I have also served on various committees for the NSGC (ethics committee, licensure subcommittee, ad hoc committee on licensure, abstracts committee co-chair in 1991, Florida state representative to the NSGC, professional issues committee member, prenatal and cancer SIG member, among others), March of Dimes (Program Services Committee Chair, Public Affairs committee, Florida Chapter Board of Directors, Genetics and Your Practice speaker and other activities) and the ABGC (Board member from 2003-2007, Accreditation Chair from 2005-2007 and nominating committee).
Have you/do you intend to pursue another degree or explore certification options?
I have been providing fee for service consultations and speaking on genetics related topics on the side. I am certified as a genetic counselor and a Resolve Through Sharing counselor, but have no current plans to pursue another degree or other certifications (other than continuing to recertify as a genetic counselor).
What advice can you offer to people who are considering pursuing Human Genetics as a career?
Get some real world experience by spending time with a genetic counselor. Seek out opportunities to job shadow or volunteer with a provider of genetic counseling services. I have had the privilege of serving as a mentor to more than 25-30 students who were contemplating whether or not to go into genetic counseling (with about a half dozen that went on to become genetic counselors) and everyone of the perspective students found their experience to be a significant factor in determining if genetic counseling might be the right career choice for them.
Do you have any anecdotes or stories you would like to share that highlight your SLC experience?
Although times have changed in the 20 plus years since I attended SLC, I have the sense that I have come full circle. I recently returned to SLC to serve as a member of the HGP Advisory Board and while on campus (for only the second time since I graduated), I interviewed an applicant for a genetic counseling position that I helped to create. When you leave Sarah Lawrence College to pursue your career, you never know when or if you might return. For me, it has been a rewarding experience to have the opportunity to give back to the school that had helped to make me the genetic counselor that I have become.