Our Richard R. Ferrante Friend of the Genetic Counseling Program Award, S. Robert
Young Outstanding Genetic Counselor Award, School of Medicine Distinguished Alumni
Award and Victoria A. Vincent Clinical Supervision Award help us recognize individuals
who have made a significant impact on the field of genetic counseling and the USC
Genetic Counseling Program.
Friend of the Genetic Counseling Program Award
Richard R. Ferrante, PhD
Richard R. Ferrante, PhD, former Director of Disability Resources for the University
of South Carolina School of Medicine, was the first recipient of the Friend of the
Genetic Counseling Program Award. In 1983, he urged the genetics faculty to develop
the program and has served as primary faculty in the classroom and on thesis committees
ever since. His stalwart support led us to name the award in his honor.
Sonja Higgins, MS, CGC
Our 2022 Friend of the Program is Sonja Higgins, a telehealth genetic counselor with
Metis Genetics who specializes in prenatal and pediatric genetic counseling. Sonja
is a 1996 graduate of the USC Genetic Counseling Program and an education leader in
the field, having served as Assistant Director for the UNC Greensboro Genetic Counseling
Program. She continues to invest in our students with telemedicine education, leading
a reaccreditation subcommittee and serving as a member of our Advisory Board. Thank
you Sonja for your continued dedication!
Gene Palmer is the Media Specialist for the UofSC School of Medicine Dean's Conference
Center. Gene directs the videoconferencing and multimedia needs for the UofSC Genetic
Counseling Program. Gene is graciously relied upon to troubleshoot, facilitate and
implement the necessary technological components to support both students and faculty.
He has been a friend of the program for almost a decade and with his help this past
year, we were able to successfully navigate the virtual classroom brought on by the
Stephanie Meredith, MA
Stephanie Meredith is the executive director of Lettercase, which produces high quality
materials for health care providers to share with prospective parents of children
with Down Syndrome and other trisomies. She is the author of "Understanding a Down
Syndrome Diagnosis" and similar resources for other genetic conditions. She offers
presentations and training nationwide about bridging relationships between patient
advocacy groups and medical professionals.
David Everman, MD
Dr. David Everman is a clinical geneticist with the Greenwood Genetic Center. Dr.
Everman served as our medical director from 2011 to 2021 and is an invaluable guest
lecturer for several of our program's courses. He is also involved in clinical and
basic science research on the genetic basis of human limb malformations and in the
supervision and education of medical genetics residents, pediatric residents and medical
G. Shashidar Pai, MD
Dr. Pai was honored for sharing our original vision to create a southeastern genetic
counseling training program. He served as our first medical director for many years. He
currently serves on our Advisory Board where his experience and perspectives strengthen
the Program and guide our growth into the future.
Courtney Truluck and family were trailblazers, the very first family to undergo cancer
genetic testing in Columbia over twenty years ago. By sharing her story with the Palmetto
Health Foundation in 2016, Courtney raised awareness for the impact of cancer genetic
counseling throughout our community.
Roz McConnaughy was recognized for investing her medical librarian expertise in the
program as she guides faculty and students in integrating the latest evidence base
in thesis research and clinical practice.
Lydia Matesic, PhD
USC Associate Professor of Biology, Dr. Matesic, was honored in 2015. Dr. Matesic
challenges our students to understand the edge of genomic research technologies and
where research is leading our clinical practice.
C. Thomas Caskey, MD
C. Thomas Caskey was the 2014 honoree, having created the impetus to launch the USC
Genetic Counseling Fall Symposium with his 2013 avant-garde keynote address, "Counseling
Faculty of the Greenwood Genetic Center
The faculty of the Greenwood Genetic Center have provided lecture, laboratory and
clinical expertise to our students’ development since the inception of the program
in 1985. The award was presented by Dr. Ferrante himself at the May 2013 Greenwood
Genetics Center case conference, at which time we recognized the significant contributions
of the center and especially of Doctors Skinner, Stevenson and Everman for their consistent
support of genetic counselor education.
Professors Rich Goodwin (Cell Biology) and Erica Blanck (Anatomy)
Professors Goodwin and Blanck were honored in 2012 for their commitment to genetic
counseling education. These professors, along with others from our basic science faculty,
provide foundational education in human development in a four credit, two semester
course for first year students. They go above and beyond for us every year.
Ken Corning, MS '93 and Angie Lichty, MS '99
Special Friends of the Program, Ken Corning and Angie Lichty, were recognized in 2011
for their teaching expertise which has become integral to the education of genetic
counselors. Ken and Angie develop students’ pediatric genetic counseling skills through
classroom instruction, interactive workshops and clinical rotations.
Ruth K. Abramson, PhD
The 2010 honoree Ruth K. Abramson, PhD, has taught psychiatric genetics to our students
since the program's inception. Dr. Abramson developed the S.C. Huntington Disease
Testing and Counseling Program more than 30 years ago, serving the families of South
Carolina in this special area of medicine.
Director of Public Policy for the National Down Syndrome Society was honored in 2009,
for her engagement in conversations and support of master of science thesis research
as we have worked together to build greater understanding between the genetics and
Down syndrome advocacy communities.
Wendell H. McKenzie, PhD
We recognized Wendell H. McKenzie, PhD., Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus in
Genetics from North Carolina State University upon his retirement in 2008. Dr. McKenzie
has lit the genetics enthusiasm of many undergraduate students over his career.
Richard R. Ferrante, PhD
Richard R. Ferrante, PhD, former Director of Disability Resources for the University
of South Carolina School of Medicine. In 1983, Richard urged the genetics faculty
to develop the program and has served as primary faculty in the classroom and on thesis
committees ever since.
Outstanding Genetic Counselor Award
S. Robert Young, PhD
Each spring, the Genetic Counseling Program faculty select one member of the graduating
class for the Outstanding Genetic Counselor Award, named for our founding director
Dr. S. Robert Young. This graduate has performed in an exemplary manner in every facet
of their professional education: in academic coursework, clinical rotations, interactions
with faculty, service learning and as a representative of the Genetic Counseling Program.
We always find it difficult to select just one.
Maddie was recognized as the 2022 outstanding genetic counseling student for her
excellence in both the classroom and in the field. As an international student from
Canada, she focused her thesis research on the Experiences of Canadian Genetic Counseling Students in the US. Upon graduation, Maddie returned to Canada and is working as a prenatal genetic
counselor at Eastern Health in New Foundland.
2021 Aubrey Rose
2020 Meg Wilkes
2019 Caitlyn Mitchell
2018 Lauren Desrosier
2017 Rachel Hickey
2016 Molly Snyder and Natasha Rudy
2015 Devon Haynes
2014 Brittanie Morris
2013 Ginger Edwardsen
2012 Vruti Mehta and Audra Bettinelli
2011 Madison Foster
2010 Ravin Winfrey
2009 Sally Cunningham Harris
2008 Peggy Walker
2007 Holly Hardin Zimmerman
2006 Christina Barger
2005 Bridget Aufmuth
2004 Anne Baughman Bandholz
2003 Lindsay Allen Metcalf
2002 Stephanie Nix
2001 Elizabeth Cook Dempsey
2000 Mary Ann Whalen Campion
1999 Amy Giordano Shealy
1998 Lori Terry
1997 Melissa Bennett
1996 Jennifer Sullivan Sareela
1995 Sonja Eubanks
1994 Lara Berg
1993 Jill Fischer
1992 Debera Harris Zvejnieks
Distinguished Alumni Award
The Genetic Counseling Program has always recognized our success as a program comes
from the accomplishments of our very active alumni. Since 2001, the School of Medicine
has honored an outstanding alum each year, welcoming them to the School of Medicine
Black Tie-White Coat Gala and the Dean’s Awards Dinner in the spring, and inviting
the alum to visit with program faculty and students, often as a special guest lecturer.
We are proud of our graduates!
Andrea Sellers MS, CGC
Andrea Adams Sellers, MS, CGC graduated from Furman University with a Bachelor of
Science Degree in Biology in 2002. She worked at the Greenwood Genetic Center for
a year prior to earning her Master’s Degree in Genetic Counseling from the University
of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia Genetic Counseling Program in 2005.
Upon graduation, she joined her UofSC mentors as a prenatal genetic counselor and
instructor in the Genetic Counseling Program. Sellers thoroughly enjoyed the combination
of clinic and student teaching and eventually took on the role of Assistant Director
of the Genetic Counseling Program. In 2012, she left her physical office at the university
to join her husband for a few years of required work travel and to raise their two
young children. She remained connected to UofSC for 10 additional years, however,
leading the online course Genetic Counseling: Career for the Future where she had
the joy of teaching nearly 1,000 prospective students about the dynamic profession
of genetic counseling.
Sellers joined Informed Medical Decisions (InformedDNA) in 2017. She currently manages
a team of 16 genetic counselors performing utilization management for genetic testing.
2021 Ginger Hocutt (2013)
2020 Kate Wilson (2007)
2019 Holly H. Zimmerman (2007)
2018 Debbie Zvejnieks (1992)
2017 Emily Ellen Hardisty (2001)
2016 Libby Malphrus (2001)
2015 Peggy Walker (2008)
2014 Katie Berrier Sheets (2009)
2013 Cam Brasington (1988)
2012 Kerry Crandall (1988)
2011 Mary Ann Campion (2000)
2010 Jennifer Sullivan (1996)
2009 Melissa Bennett (1998)
2008 Courtney Rowell Tate (2000)
2007 Holly Peay (1997)
2006 Sonja Eubanks (1996)
2005 Vicki Vincent (1987)
2004 Christine Miller (1989)
2002 Jill Fischer (1993)
2001 Cam Brasington (1988)
Genetic Counselor Supervision Award
Victoria A. Vincent, MS, CGC
Named in honor of Vicki Vincent, MS, CGC who graduated in the inaugural class of the
Genetic Counseling Program and serves on faculty as a teacher, mentor and clinical
supervisor for over 30 years. This award honors a genetic counselor that serves as
an exemplary clinical rotation supervisor. The honoree is nominated by the graduating
genetic counselors annually and awarded to an individual who exhibits the qualities
of an ideal supervisor: "providing balanced feedback, cultivating the critical thinking
process, building confidence, allowing autonomy with respect for student opinion and
fostering a collegial relationship."
Paige Babb, MS, CGC
Paige was recognized as the 2022 outstanding supervisor for her ability to both support
and challenge students in their professional development. Paige is a genetic counselor
with the MUSC Prenatal Wellness Center in Charleston, SC and provides our students
with excellent learning opportunities while maintaining high quality patient care
and serving as an example of what a genetic counselor should be!
2021 Shandrea Foster (2018)
2020 Jessica Davis
2019 Alexandra H. Bailey
2018 Sally Shields
2017 Vicki Vincent (1987)
Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.