Meet Our Incoming Class
Introducing Bay Path's Genetic Counseling Class of 2023
Derek Ansel grew up in Central Pennsylvania and has worked in the clinical research field for over a decade. Currently he is a Senior Director, Therapeutic Strategy Lead for Rare Diseases at Worldwide Clinical Trials, a contract research organization devoted to the development of novel therapies for individuals with rare and orphan diseases. In this and in prior roles, Derek supports drug development across various rare diseases, including sickle cell disease, hemophilia, Prader-Willi, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, and more. Derek’s efforts are largely centered on patient education and empowering patients to make decisions that best fulfill their lives. He speaks at conferences in the United States on the importance of providing adequate education to rare disease patients in clinical trial settings. In his spare time, he volunteers with the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network, Cochrane, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center, and the Institutional Review Board at Jefferson University in Philadelphia. By enrolling in the Genetic Counseling Program at Bay Path University, Derek hopes to combine his passion for genetic counseling with his expertise in rare disease clinical research. He received a BS in Biology from West Chester University in 2010 and a MS in Pharmacology and Toxicology from Michigan State University in 2019. Additionally, he holds the Certified Clinical Research Associate credential from the Association of Clinical Research Professionals. He lives in Philadelphia, PA with his husband, Michael, and their dog Barnabas.
Chase Clooney is from Lake Charles, Louisiana. Prior to studying genetic counseling at Bay Path, he graduated from McNeese State University in 2013 with a BS in Biology with a focus in Pre-medicine. Post undergrad, he worked as a Visiting Lecturer at McNeese State in Microbiology and Human Anatomy/Physiology Laboratories; while also working in the Emergency Department at Christus Oschner St. Patrick Hospital. Since his daughter was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, he has had a personal interest in genetics and genetic counseling. With an everlasting connection to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, he sees the field as a perfect opportunity to combine his educational, work, and personal experiences to make an impact on the lives of others. During his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, designing, being a fan of LSU sports, rooting the Boston Bruins on to win the Stanley Cup, and dodging hurricanes. He is extremely grateful for the opportunity to pursue his passion of becoming a genetic counselor through the program at Bay Path University.
RHANI DE LACERDA
Rhani (pronounced “honey”) moved to the U.S. from Brazil with her mother at the age of thirteen. A natural polyglot, she fluently speaks five languages including Portuguese, Spanish, French, English, and Mandarin. Rhani earned her first bachelor’s degree from Florida International University in International Relations with a minor in Asian Studies and certificate in Mandarin. After getting her feet wet in the corporate environment, she returned to her studies at Florida Atlantic University where she earned a second bachelor’s degree in Biology. Her affinity for scientific research landed her multiple opportunities with Scripps Research Institute, where she participated in internships in the fields of drug discovery, circadian rhythms of drosophila, and molecular biology. Rhani wants to bring diversity and inclusion into the world of genetic counseling in South Florida where she currently resides, with her partner and two daughters Lyra and Yana. She is uniquely fit to the task due to her own diverse background and knowledge of multiple languages which allows her to service patients of all ethnicities in a connected and comforting manner.
Bethany was born and raised in Western Massachusetts, and graduated Cum Laude from Bay Path University in 2021 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Science. During her time as an undergraduate student, she was President of the Women in Science Club and the Ambassador to the University's President, Dr. Carol Leary. She comes from a large and loving family of 7 siblings and a goldendoodle puppy named Charlie. In her spare time, Bethany loves to hike and spend time outside. She also loves to travel and try new foods! She was introduced to the field of genetics as an undergraduate by her genetics professor, and since then has maintained a strong interest. It was not until she shadowed a Genetic Counselor at Baystate Medical Center that she knew this was the career for her! Following her experience, she volunteered at her local hospital in the emergency department as well as the surgical unit. When the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was nearly impossible to find an internship in her desired field. Bethany reached out to Bay Path's Genetic Counseling Program Director, Janice Berliner, and together created the program's first remote undergraduate internship. She is currently working as a pharmacy technician for Walgreens, and has been proactively involved in the company's COVID-19 vaccine initiative. Bethany is very excited for these next few years as a graduate student at her beloved Alma Mater, Bay Path!
Leeran grew up on a farm in rural western Kentucky where their passion for science was first nurtured through interactions with farm animals and growing crops. They earned a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Agriculture from Western Kentucky University in 2014. Leeran has a Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, where they studied modulators of co- and post-translational protein folding and prion formation. During their time at Washington University, Leeran was an NIH and Amgen Teaching Fellow for a science summer program called HiSTEP. HiSTEP serves high school students from underrepresented backgrounds in science and teaches them laboratory skills, experiment design, and career preparation. While working with these students Leeran discovered they enjoyed explaining difficult scientific concepts and supporting others as they made difficult decisions. This experience, as well as others, led them to pursue a career in Genetic Counseling. Leeran is excited to receive their genetic counseling education at Bay Path University, where they feel they will be able to learn from fantastic professors as well as the diverse experiences of their classmates. Leeran lives in St. Louis with their wife Rachel and giant schnoodle Canyon. Leeran enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles, cross stitch, singing, playing piano, and performing in musicals.
A native of Brandon, MS, Katriana Fields is a 2015 graduate of Mississippi State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry. In 2017, she received a Master of Science in Biology-Medical Sciences from Mississippi College. Having volunteered at Children’s of Mississippi Medical Center with the Child Life team, Katriana found a passion for working with children and was inspired to seek opportunities that combined her love of science with patient advocacy. In 2018, Katriana began working as a genetic counseling assistant in the pediatrics department of the University of Mississippi Medical Center. During her tenure at UMMC, she shadowed a team of genetic counselors, documented patients’ medical histories, completed intake for the craniofacial multidisciplinary clinic, participated in the SouthSeq clinical research program, facilitated telehealth clinics for remote providers, and disclosed normal test results.
Having found a career that fulfills her desires to provide care to diverse patient populations, to continuously learn as new developments in genetics emerge, and to advocate for patients, Katriana decided to pursue genetic counseling. She is excited to complete her genetic counseling graduate work at Bay Path University and is thankful for the opportunity to gain a rich and varied education through Bay Path’s hybrid learning environment and its vast clinical rotation opportunities. Katriana currently resides in Waco, TX with her husband, Chevel. Together they enjoy cooking, traveling, and spending time with their Aussiedoodle, Kenzo.
Haley Fryer was born and raised in San Juan Capistrano, California. From kindergarten through high school her and her three sisters were involved in a dual-immersion program where they studied Spanish language, culture, and history. Because of the impact this has had on her life growing up, she hopes to see English and Spanish speaking patients in the future.
Haley graduated in three years from Westmont College with her B.S. in Biology and a minor in Chemistry in 2019. She discovered genetic counseling her last year of school and instantly knew it was perfect for her. After graduating, she worked at Q2 Lab Solutions, a joint venture of Quest Diagnostics, where she ran assays for RSV and dengue fever vaccine development. In January of 2020 she joined MemorialCare as a genetic counselor assistant in the Cancer Risk & Prevention Program and has been there since. Outside of work, Haley has played the flute for more than twelve years and was a member of the college orchestra at Westmont. She also enjoys visiting new national parks, baking, spending time with her family, and being around dogs. Haley could not be more excited to start this journey at Bay Path and looks forward to getting to know her cohort and professors.
TaTy’Terria Gary is from Topeka, KS, and graduated from Newman University in 2021 with a BA in Biology, and a minor in Psychology. During undergrad, she spent much of her time working on several boards and with clubs and organizations at Newman University and serving her community on and off-campus in crisis centers, abuse shelters, and hospitals. It was at Newman, and through TaTy’Terria’s community work, several trials and tribulations, and guidance from mentors, she developed a love for genetic counseling and solidified her purpose and inclination to serve her community as a Genetic Counselor. TaTy’Terria recently moved back to the Topeka area, continuing her community service work and planting roots in her community. Outside of school, TaTy’Terria loves spending time painting and creating, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends. TaTy’Terria is overjoyed to be able to attend Bay Path University for the opportunity to grow professionally and personally in the field of genetic counseling.
Carly graduated from the Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology with minors in Chemistry and Family & Child Sciences. Carly first learned of genetic counseling during a child growth and development course and was immediately captivated by the possibilities of the field. After graduation, Carly knew she needed more experience before applying to graduate school. She took a leap of faith and moved to San Francisco, California to work as a patient advocate at Counsyl, a women’s health genetic testing company. This exposure validated her passion for genetic counseling because she experienced first hand the integration of human understanding and personalized medicine to support, educate, and guide patients to make informed decisions regarding their medical care. Outside of school and work, Carly volunteers at the Friendship Line, a San Francisco based crisis intervention hotline and a warm-line for older adults and adults living with disabilities. Carly is particularly excited to begin the Genetic Counseling program at Bay Path University because of the unique emphasis on telecommunication and breadth of clinical rotation opportunities. Aside from her professional interests, Carly loves her cat Slinky, spending quality time with her family and friends, surfing, skiing, and doing yoga.
Heather grew up near Seattle, WA and recently graduated from Southern Utah University with a degree in biology and minors in chemistry and psychology. During her time at SUU, she was a member of the softball team and a tutor for student-athletes. Heather discovered a passion for helping others by volunteering for Utah’s domestic violence hotline and a local domestic violence and sexual assault service provider. She is eager to apply all of the skills she learned in her advocacy experiences to genetic counseling. Heather is especially excited to be a part of Bay Path’s genetic counseling program because of the knowledgeable faculty and an online format that allows for geographical flexibility. In her free time, she enjoys exploring new coffee shops and hiking in National Parks.
Eleni Kaloidis graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Post University, where she double majored in Biology and Human Services, with a Concentration in Counseling and a Minor in Chemistry. She has a strong passion for genetics and the rapidly advancing field of precision medicine. Eleni gained experience in genetic counseling during her time as a student in the Pre-Genetic Counselor Experiential Practicum at Columbia University. She has a special interest in rare diseases and providing support to affected individuals and families. Eleni is a powerful advocate for the rare disease community in Connecticut. She recently advocated for instituting statewide newborn screenings for a rare and life-threatening neuromuscular disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Newborns in Connecticut are now routinely tested for SMA, leading to significantly improved outcomes for affected individuals by allowing for early detection and treatment of the disease. She continues to advocate for the SMA community through her role as the Chair of Advocacy for the Connecticut Chapter of Cure SMA, a disease-focused charitable organization serving as the largest of its kind for the disease. Eleni enjoys volunteering with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, formerly as the 2020 MDA State Ambassador for Connecticut, and at multiple other charitable organizations, including The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the National Organization for Rare Disorders. Eleni has also worked as a crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line. She looks forward to applying her passions for genetics, counseling, and advocacy in her future career as a genetic counselor.
Angelea Kuipers is from Oceanside, CA and graduated from California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo in 2012 with a BS in Biochemistry. Angelea discovered the field of genetic counseling while working as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist in Cytogenetics shortly after graduating from college. She has worked in cytogenetics for 7 years and has experience working in oncology, prenatal, pediatric, and adult family planning cytogenetics. In response to the pandemic, Angelea wanted to help, so she joined the COVID response team at the University of California San Diego where she began as a Community Outreach Professional and has since taken on the role as Admin Program Coordinator. Angelea loves animals and has done volunteer work with animal rescue groups helping dogs, cats and most recently wild birds. She also volunteers for Crisis Textline where she learned several skills that she utilizes in her work on the COVID response team. Angelea is passionate about genetics and science communication and has hopes to one day work in a clinical setting and also teach in a genetic counseling program. She chose to enter the field of genetic counseling for the wealth of fulfilling career opportunities that exist and she chose Bay Path for the flexibility and one of a kind clinical rotation experience. Currently, Angelea lives on the island of Oahu, HI with her husband and dog; they plan to move to the mainland northeast coast next year.
Mary McCauley is joining the program from upstate New York. Mary graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work with minors in Psychology and Family Studies from The College of Saint Rose and a Master of Social Work from Syracuse University. Mary entered her collegiate career majoring in Social Work with the goal of pursuing Genetic Counseling after learning about the field from a high school biology textbook. During her graduate program, Mary interned in a level 4 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and was able to see the impact of various genetic conditions. Upon graduating, Mary obtained her Licensed Master Social Worker certification from New York State. She recently upgraded this certification to Licensed Clinical Social Worker and she continues to work towards achieving her -R endorsement. She has worked in hospital settings and clinical mental health settings supporting people with medical and mental health diagnoses. Mary has a passion for genetics and a strong desire to help people, making a career in Genetic Counseling a perfect fit. She is excited about the Genetic Counseling Program with Bay Path University because of the flexibility in the program format and the opportunities for academic growth. She looks forward to spending time outside of school volunteering with foundations such as Make-A-Wish and David’s Refuge.
Olivia Riccio was born and raised in Burlington, CT and is a graduate of The University of Saint Joseph, where she obtained a MS in biology with a concentration in infectious disease. In exploring the world of healthcare, she obtained a job as a scribe, medical assistant, as well as a clinical cancer research coordinator at Hartford Hospital. While there, her work focused a GRAIL study, using next generation sequencing of circulating cell-free nucleic acids to develop a blood test to detect cancer early-when it can be cured. Olivia was fascinated by the contributions of genomics to personalized medicine and found fulfillment working directly with cancer patients. Olivia discovered the health care provider she was meant to be was one that helped others through a medical lens as well as a psychological one, ultimately guiding her to the field of genetic counseling. She is captivated by what remains at the heart of genetic counseling, a true balance between scientific knowledge and compassion, patient autonomy, support, and advocacy. Advocating through her passions, Olivia volunteered as a genetic counselor assistant and is an ESL teacher for adult immigrants and refugees. Additionally, as a life-long horseback rider, she is a therapeutic riding instructor for veterans, front line workers, and those with special needs. Olivia hopes to bring animal-assisted therapy to the world of genetic counseling-to showcase this unique therapeutic relationship. Olivia chose Bay Path University for the personal and professional growth that their online format, mission, curriculum, and tight knit community offers as well as the opportunity to access clinical sites across the country and in her home state. In her free time, Olivia enjoys spending time with her family, friends, her farm animals and exploring the country’s National Parks. Olivia is excited to embark on this new journey as a future genetic counselor!
Connecticut native, Stephanie Royka received her B.S. in Genetics from the University of New Hampshire in 2015. As an undergraduate Stephanie took advantage of opportunities to broaden her knowledge of genetics through research. This included her Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship where she used DNA analysis to identify the host species of Black-Legged Ticks, and her independent study using non-invasive techniques to examine the diets of Saltmarsh sparrows. These experiences reinforced her love for genetics and learning. During her free-time, Stephanie volunteered with various programs that shared her commitment to helping others. She served as an advocate at different crisis centers, supporting survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence by whatever means necessary. As a volunteer with the Global Medical Brigades she traveled to Panama, where she assisted in establishing a medical clinic and providing care for communities in need. This combined with her previous experience working in a podiatry office, affirmed her desire to work closely with patients in a medical setting. Upon learning about the field of genetic counseling, Stephanie knew it would be a perfect fit. Her job shadowing experiences provided her with a unique glimpse into various areas of the field, and cultivated her dream of becoming a genetic counselor. Currently, Stephanie is working at a therapeutic school that provides trauma based care for students with special education and mental health needs. Her role as a long term substitute inspired her interest in teaching at a genetic counseling program in the future and her interest in psychiatric genetics. In her spare time Stephanie enjoys hiking with her adorable puggle Penny, kickboxing, gardening, and crafts.
Amber Telford is a native of Plymouth, Massachusetts and first-generation college student. She graduated in 2021 summa cum laude from Bridgewater State University with a degree in Biology and minors in Biochemistry and Anthropology. Prior to pursuing an education and career in her long-time love for genetics, Amber served in the Marine Corps as a combat engineer. After deployment to Iraq in 2004, Amber became the first female firefighter in her hometown, where she advanced her skills for teamwork, leadership, patient care, advocacy, and crisis communication. When her children entered school, and she had created the financial foundation to pursue this dream, Amber learned of Bay Path University’s hybrid program for Genetic Counseling. The journey brought with it valuable laboratory experience, certification in Critical Incident Stress Management for first responders, including placement on Plymouth County’s CISM team, and exposure to the profession through shadowing opportunities and career day events. These experiences strengthened her resolve to attend Bay Path’s extraordinary program. Amber hopes that, as a second career, she will be able to work in underserved communities, and has boundless specialty interests, from mental health, to pharmacogenomics, to industry. Her personal life includes a lifelong commitment to and service in sobriety, and passion for her family, nature, skateboarding, yoga, running, sewing, the three goats, and black boxer dog.
Ashley Thompson is from Rutherfordton, NC, a small-town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. She graduated from Converse College (Spartanburg, SC) in 2018 with a BS in Biochemistry and honors in the field of chemistry. During her undergraduate career, Ashley performed analytical chemistry research at Furman University (Greenville, SC) which ignited her passion for research. She was an NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program Awardee for her efforts in biomedical research and selected for a position as a post-baccalaureate research fellow at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Since June 2018, Ashley has studied the clinical genetics and epidemiology of inherited cancer predisposition syndromes under the mentorship of Drs. Sharon A. Savage and Lisa J. McReynolds. She has become skilled in variant curation and classification, genotype-phenotype association studies, and gene discovery. During this fellowship, her exposure to the critical role genetic counselors play in both research and the lives of those with inherited forms of cancer inspired her to become a genetic counselor herself. As Ashley begins her education at Bay Path University, she will join a team of psychosocial researchers at the NCI to better understand the needs of those with rare, inherited cancer predisposition syndromes. Ashley also takes calls for her local crisis hotline and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. She currently lives outside of Washington, DC in Rockville, Maryland with her 85-pound want-to-be lap dog, Julep. Ashley enjoys hiking, trying new foods, and traveling in her free time.
Grant Warren was born and raised in Denver, Colorado where he is a graduate of The University of Colorado where he obtained a B.S. in Biology. During his time as an undergraduate, Grant thoroughly enjoyed studying and exploring the field of genetics. While there, he was a MARC- U STAR scholar and research assistant for a lab that focused primarily on proteomics analysis and maintaining genome stability by silencing genes, with his research focusing on the mutations in the VRK1 gene to identify its effects on spinal muscular atrophies. Grant then first discovered the field of genetic counseling after volunteering as a summer counselor at Camp Wapiyapi, a summer camp designed for pediatric cancer patients where he gained exposure to children with genetic conditions. Through these experiences Grant not only gained valuable insight on how much they enjoyed learning and studying in the field of genetics, but how thoroughly they were fulfilled working with patients dealing with a genetic or hereditary condition that inspired them to want to pursue a career in genetic counseling.
Since 2019, Grant also has been working as a patient navigator at National Jewish Health in lung cancer screening, where he has gained a deep appreciation and passion for screening and personalized care approaches for his patients and believes genetic counseling will be a perfect way to explore these areas as a healthcare professional. Grant also hopes to use genetic counseling as a way to reduce health disparities in his community. Grant is excited to complete his graduate studies in genetic counseling at Bay Path University because of the opportunity to have such a highly accessible and personalized learning experience with many options for clinical rotations. During his free time, Grant enjoys exploring the city, and enjoying life with his loved ones.