Student Awards

Genetic Counseling Distinguished Student Award

S. Rickard, J. Hartman, J. Leighton and D. Shah

The Genetic Counseling Distinguished Student Award is presented annually at the Arcadia University Honors Convocation in March. One student from the graduating class is chosen for both academic excellence and application of counseling theory to provide personalized and empathetic patient care. The first award was presented in 2010.

  • Divya Shah '13
  • Stacey Rickard '12
  • Jessica Hartman '11
  • Justin Leighton '10

Ellington Beavers Awards for Intellectual Inquiry

The Ellington Beavers Awards for Intellectual Inquiry at Arcadia University are for student research that best exemplifies the substantial intellectual inquiry inherent in good research. The award was established in 1989 by the leadership of Dr. Ellington Beavers, then Chair of the Board of Trustees.


KHelbigKatherine Kron Helbig, who earned her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling in 2009, was the first Genetic Counseling Program recipient of an Ellington Beavers research award for “Perceptions of Epilepsy: Genetic Risk Estimation, Associations with Reproductive Decisions and Views about Predictive Testing.” Her research was done in collaboration with several people, including Laura J. Conway and Kathleen D. Valverde, Associate Professors in Arcadia’s Genetic Counseling program, and Dr. Michael Sperling of the Department of Neurology at Thomas Jefferson University. Sperling gave Helbig access to the patients at his clinic and closely supervised her project. Helbig has since published her thesis project in Epilepsia, one of the premier journals in epilepsy research. She is currently working in a research capacity as the ELSI (Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues) Coordinator for the popgen 2.0 Biobank Network (P2N), one of Germany's largest biobanks.


Kim RaineyKim Rainey '10, conducted research investigating the question of “BRCA True Negative Women: Are We Overlooking a Population in Need of Support?” She worked with Kathleen Valverde, Associate Professor of Genetic Counseling. Kim presented her thesis as a platform presentation at the Annual Educational Conference of the National Society of Genetic Counselors in 2010. She is currently a genetic counselor at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

Kristin ZelleyKristin E. Zelley '10, focused her research on “Identifying the Unmet Needs of Individuals with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia.” Her research adviser in the Genetic Counseling program was Dr. Laura Conway Assistant Professor of Genetic Counseling. Zelley is now a genetic counselor in the Hereditary Cancer Predisposition Program at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.


Elizabeth M. McCormickElizabeth M. McCormick '11, worked with Dr. Laura Conway on “Assessing Phenotype-Genotype Correlation in Costello Syndrome with the use of a Severity Score.” She graduated with distinction and presented her work as a contributed paper at the 2011 National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Annual Meeting in San Diego. She is currently employed as a genetic counselor at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in the Mitochondrial Genetics Program.


Vivien NarcisaVivien Narcisa '13, won an award for her research project “Identifying the Social, Emotional, and Practical Needs of teens with 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome.” Her advisors were Brenda Finucane, MS, CGC from Elywn and Kathleen Valverde. She has been invited to present her research at the National Society of Genetic Counselors Annual Education Conference in Anaheim in October 2013. Vivien is one of 6 licensed genetic counselors in the Division of Genetics at Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE. She works with Drs. Karen Gripp and Nina Powell-Hamilton in the general genetics clinic, where they evaluate children who are referred for a wide range of indications, including autism and developmental delay, connective tissue disorders, known chromosomal abnormalities and genetic disease, family histories suggestive of genetic conditions, congenital abnormalities, and more.

Stacey RickardStacey Rickard '12, received her award for “Orthopedic Manifestations and Implications for Individuals with Costello Syndrome.” She worked with Dr. Karen Gripp and Beth Hopkins, MS, CGC from A.I. duPont Hospital for Children. Stacey attended the National Costello Syndrome Conference in the summer of 2011 to meet patients and families with this condition. She is now a prenatal genetic counselor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Jessica Tusi '12Jessica Tusi '12, conducted research on perceptions towards whole exome sequencing. Her project is entitled, “Permission to Open Pandora’s Box: Participants’ views of whole exome sequencing research." Jessica worked with Barbara Bernhardt, MS, CGC from the University of Pennsylvania and Kathleen Valverde. She is a genetic counselor at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.


Danielle-McKennaDanielle McKenna ’14 received her award for her research project entitled “Assessing Genetic Counselors’ Knowledge of Technology and Testing Options for Hereditary Cancer Syndromes and the Clinical Utilization of Hereditary Cancer Tests.” Working with advisors Lisa Kessler, MS, CGC and Dr. Steve Robbins from Arcadia and Zohra Ali-Khan Catts from the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center of the Christiana Health Care System, she aims to develop guidelines for genetic counselors and other practicing health care professionals on Next-Generation Sequencing panels, which were introduced into clinical practice in 2012 and are being offered more commonly among genetic counselors.

Alex-LucyAlexandra Lucy ’14 is studying the effects of unexpected genetic ancestry test results on individuals’ ethnic and racial identity. She is working with data collected for the Scripps Genomic Health Initiative from their Individual Ancestry Estimation survey and with advisors Lisa Kessler, M.S., C.G.C. and Cinnamon S. Bloss, PhD of The Scripps Research Institute. Her project is entitled “The Effects of DNA-Based Ancestry Testing Results on an Individual's Perceived Ethnic and Racial Identity.”

Dina-Goldberg-StrasslerDina Goldberg-Strassler ’14 is focused on why spine and hip orthopedic issues appear in people with Costello syndrome and how they affect their quality of life. Her project’s title is "Natural History of Orthopedic Complications in Individuals with Costello syndrome." She is working with geneticist Dr. Karen Gripp and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mihir Thacker, both from A.I. duPont Hospital for Children, and Arcadia professor and assistant director of the Genetic Counseling Program, Dr. Laura Conway, in a continuation and expansion of Stacey Rickard Detweiler's ’12 thesis project.

Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Fellowships

S. Everhart, B. Levenseller, E. Schindewolf

Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Fellowships are funded by the Department of Health and Human Services to provide leadership and clinical training to those working in diverse health care professions serving children with developmental disabilities and chronic health conditions. The fellowship includes specific focus on community involvement, advocacy, research, experience with families of children with neurodevelopmental differences, and didactic training. LEND fellows from Arcadia’s Genetic Counseling Program spend one day a week at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia during their second year of training.

  • Samantha Everhart '12
  • Brooke Levenseller '13
  • Erica Schindewolf '14

Other Awards

Katie BombaKatie Bomba '11, won a 2011 Prenatal SIG Award from the NSGC. The grant money funded her project “Barriers Toward Perinatal Autopsies,” which she presented as a poster at the 2011 NSGC Education Conference in San Diego.

Colleen ClarkeColleen Clarke '11, was honored with the inaugural Cook Family Endowed Scholarship Award in 2010. The scholarship is awarded annually to an Arcadia undergraduate entering a health-related graduate program at Arcadia, and was established by the Cook Family in 2008.

Marissa ClarkMarissa Clark '12, received a 2012 Prenatal SIG (Special Interest Group) Award from the National Society of Genetic Counselors funding her research proposal, “Non-invasive Prenatal Diagnosis: Views of Genetic Counselors.” Marissa was invited to make a short presentation at the 2012 NSGC Education Conference in Boston.


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