Soon-to-be Alverno graduate Sunshine Xiong has known for a while that she wants to be a genetic counselor, assisting patients and families as they make informed decisions about their health.
Last semester, the human biology major interned in the Medical College of Wisconsin’s (MCW) genetic counseling program, where she one day hoped to pursue graduate studies. The remote internship offered the chance to form relationships with genetic counselors, to observe genetic counseling session and to try on the job through role play exercises.
The counselors Xiong met warned her about the competitive nature of the match process through which grad school applicants are matched with specific schools. They said many first-time applicants aren’t accepted, and that it often takes several times to secure a match.
Xiong, however, secured a match to MCW – her top-choice school – on the first try and will enroll this fall.
“I’m still in disbelief!” she exclaims, adding that it provided a boost to her confidence. “Getting into this program reassured me that I am great and that I am capable of meeting any challenges.”
Being a genetic counselor requires sharing complex medical information and delivering news that can be life-changing, as Xiong observed firsthand during her internship.
“Something that stood out to me was word choices and creating patient rapport, making sure that we’re connecting with them and understanding their perspective. These topics are very sensitive, so you have to make sure that your word choices are clear and that you’re explaining it to them in a way that they can understand. You want to use the correct terminology but not go too scientific with them.”
Xiong feels confident that she has both the scientific ability and natural empathy to take on this role someday, and she also carries the faith of her instructors.
“My internship mentor told me that I have natural counseling abilities,” she recalls. “I’m very empathetic.”
As she prepares for this next step, Xiong, class of 2021, is grateful for the Alverno instructors and staff who supported her educational journey, as well as the education she received.
“Alverno’s 8 Abilities definitely played a role in helping me gain the confidence and the voice to speak up and ask questions,” she says.