Class of 2025

Front L>R: Jessica Glunt, Tessa Holtkamp
Back L>R: Hannah Aaron, Margaret (Maggie) Erpelding

Class of 2024

Front L>R: Alex Widman, Paige Ekert
Back L>R: Zoe Katz, Lydia Pack

Meet the Current Students!

Class of 2025

Hannah Aaron was born and raised in Hickory, NC where she also graduated from Lenoir Rhyne University with a B.S in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. Throughout her college career she dedicated countless hours volunteering as a dental assistant at a local ministry committed to providing dental care to those to those in need within the Hickory community. Additionally, she committed the final two years of her undergraduate studies to researching honey composition and its potential adulteration through PCR analysis and various other identification methods. She ultimately presented her thesis project at the NC Academy of Science, placing 3rd in the state in the category of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

After college she spent a few years living and working in Charlotte, NC while continuing volunteer work as a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line. During this time, she came to realize her desire to pursue a career in genetic counseling and began interviewing genetic counselors, shadowing, and participating in continuing education courses related to this vocation.

These steps led to her current role has a prenatal genetic counselor assistant for Labcorp Women’s health – a pursuit that has further fueled her passion for genetic counseling. In her free time Hannah enjoys spending time outside; whether it be hiking, biking, picnicking or gardening. Additionally, she is a huge foodie and loves to explore new restaurants or prepare different dishes for friends and family.

Margaret (Maggie) Erpelding grew up in the Twin Cities metro in Minnesota where she first learned about genetic counseling while in high school. She earned her B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Spanish Cultural and Literary Studies from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN in 2023. During her time at UST, she participated in neuroendocrinology research studying the expression of dopamine related genes in brains of zebra finches. Her research focused on brain regions of the social decision-making network in response to pair bond behaviors and maintenance. Maggie also served as the Vice President for the Association of Women in Science at UST, implementing a partnership with a local middle school to provide after school science programming to students.

She gained additional counseling and advocacy experiences through volunteer work with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) as a support group facilitator for young adults with mental illnesses. Using the knowledge she gained at NAMI, Maggie worked on suicide prevention at the University of Granada during her internship with the Centro Juvenil de Orientación para la Salud in Spain while studying abroad. Together these experiences have helped grow her interest in health literacy, the role of language in counseling, and empowering individuals previously overlooked in the medical community. When not studying, Maggie enjoys running through Forest Park, reading, and trying out new crafts.

Jessica Glunt comes to genetic counseling after years of life and work experience led her to the profession. Jessica obtained undergraduate majors in Biological Sciences and Chemistry at Vanderbilt University. She then graduated from Washington University’s School of Law and University College with both her J.D. and a M.A. in Biology.

Jessica became a registered patent attorney and practiced intellectual property law at a large firm in St. Louis. But, she felt pulled closer to the lives of people impacted by genetic technology and moved to the McDonnell Genome Institute to explore different career options. While there, she became certain that genetic counseling was the vocation for her, but without a training program in the region, she felt that the best thing for her growing family was remaining in St. Louis and focusing on her role in the community.

During her time as a small business owner, Jessica grew to love working with families with medically complex children, volunteering extensively as a photographer specializing in hospital sessions, and helping develop a local support network and mentorship program. She also honed her ability to communicate with people in crisis as a counselor with the Crisis Text Line, and she is a strong believer in the power of stories and their ability to connect us and give meaning to our lives.

Jessica also has personal interests in clinical ethics and disability rights, and she is thrilled to be combining all her passions as a genetic counseling student. When she’s not working or studying, she can be found exploring St. Louis with her family. She also enjoys being outdoors, is forever attempting to learn Italian and ASL, and can never resist diving into the latest crafting fad to overtake her Instagram feed.

Tessa Holtkamp has lived in St. Louis, Missouri her whole life. She started her college career at St. Louis Community College as a first-generation student, exploring healthcare professions by focusing on science-based general education requirements. She first heard of genetic counseling in an introductory biology course and began pursuing the field during the pandemic.

After attaining her Associate of Arts degree in General Transfer Studies, she transferred to the University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL) and began taking classes as a biology major. Within the last two years of her studies, Tessa served as a peer for UMSL’s Social Peers Program, a mentor program for students with intellectual and physical disabilities, and Postpartum Support International, a helpline for parents and caretakers that provides resources for perinatal difficulties. For her senior research project, Tessa taught her seminar class about the field of genetic counseling and its importance in healthcare. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Biology in May of 2023, alongside the Muriel. E Babcock Award that acknowledged Tessa’s achievements in research under her genetics professor.

Outside of school, Tessa loves to read, take her dog on long walks in the parks around St. Louis, and discover new coffee shops with her friends. She is excited to continue her education at WashU and explore the opportunities the university offers to the St. Louis community.

Class of 2024

Paige Ekert was born and raised in a small town on the East End of Long Island, New York. She graduated from Binghamton University in 2021 with a B.S. in Biological Anthropology, a B.S. in Biological Sciences, and a B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature, receiving the distinction of magna cum laude and honors through the department of Romance Languages and Literatures. During that time, Paige worked on a research project in the Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center and assisted on a project concerning health transitions in Vanuatu, which earned her an Undergraduate Research Award. She also served as the President of Phi Sigma Iota and was a founding member of her institution’s chapter of TriBeta. Following her graduation, Paige worked as a genetic counseling intern at Johns Hopkins Hospital where she grew her interest in the field and completed a capstone project regarding the role genetic counselors can play in facilitating and destigmatizing adoptions. In 2022, Paige graduated from Binghamton University with a Master of Science in Biomedical Anthropology and completed a graduate certificate in Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention. In the summers, Paige has worked as a private swim instructor, passing on her lifelong passion for swimming to her young students. She continues to volunteer as a crisis counselor with Crisis Text Line, where she also serves as a peer supporter and campus advocate. In her free time, Paige enjoys reading, dancing, crocheting, baking, and exploring her new home in St. Louis.

Zoe Katz grew up outside of Boston, MA with her mom, dad, and older sister. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Public Health and French from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. While in Lancaster, she taught kindergarten science classes at a local elementary school and worked at the Lancaster County Partnership for Public Health. There, she worked to centralize public health information and educate Lancaster residents about the risks associated with lead exposure. Zoe became interested in genetic counseling when a genetic counselor came to her class to speak about the history of medical genetics and bioethics. Excited by the field, Zoe conducted an independent research project exploring access barriers to preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in Switzerland and the United States during her semester abroad.

Following graduation, Zoe worked as a clinical research coordinator for the Harvard Aging Brain Study, a longitudinal study investigating healthy aging. She gained additional counseling skills through volunteering with Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, where she served as a hotline crisis counselor, and with FriendshipWorks, where she had weekly check-ins with a senior adult in her community. She is particularly passionate about the intersection of genetics, memory, and aging. In her free time Zoe enjoys baking, playing pickleball, and spending time outdoors.

Lydia Pack grew up in a town not too far from Louisville, KY. She heard about genetic counseling for the first time at fifteen and pursued the field since then. While attending the University of Kentucky for undergrad, she worked as the Director of Health and Wellness for the Student Government Association. One of her favorite advocacy experiences while there was fostering and training service dogs for children and veterans with disabilities for an organization called 4 Paws for Ability. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Biology and honors distinction at the age of 20. In her gap year after graduating, she worked for the Pediatric Genetics and Metabolism clinic at UK Healthcare as a Genetic Counseling Assistant. As she has gained more experience in the field of genetic counseling, her passion to advocate for the field, for marginalized communities, and for all aspects of health and wellness, has only grown stronger and she is thrilled to learn more at WashU. With her free time, she enjoys traveling, finding the best gluten-free food, and adventuring with her golden retriever, Frankie.

Alex Widman was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. Growing up a Mizzou fan, she decided to attend the University of Missouri where she earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Medical Science and Human Biology. While there, she worked as a Teacher’s Assistant for a Microbiology course and enjoyed volunteering with organizations that supported refugee and immigrant families. Alex also had the privilege of participating in medical internships in both Guatemala and Kenya, where she gained an understanding of each country’s unique culture and was educated on their healthcare systems and relevant healthcare disparities. Upon graduation, she returned to Kansas City to work for the University of Kansas in their Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center as a Clinical Research Assistant. She also began volunteering, and later working, with the Missouri Crisis Line where she provided resources for and supported people experiencing crises. These diverse experiences led her to excitedly pursue a career in genetic counseling, where her interest in science meets her passion to guide and support patients and their families. In her free time, you can find Alex seeking out a local coffee shop, restaurant, or any place that satisfies her sweet tooth. She also enjoys spending time outside, whether it’s relaxing at the lake with her family or taking a stroll through Forest Park.

Class of 2023

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