|Vol. 17, No. 34||June 11, 1998|
Lisa Jay has always been drawn to comforting her friends. Throughout her school years, she was the consummate confidant, the person to whom everyone told their troubles. She would listen, try to help and was glad to do so.
"It was a role I felt comfortable in, and I thought, if there was a career that would allow me to keep on doing that plus use my love of science and teaching, that was for me," Jay said.
By 1994, as she was preparing to enter the University of Delaware as a psychology major, a family friend, who works as a genetic counselor, suggested she look into this new field.
Jay agreed and discovered that genetic counseling would allow her to use all of her academic strengths while fulfilling her desire to serve. "These healthcare professionals work with families that have genetic problems or who are at risk. A counselor must be able to explain the problem and the family's choices and then help them accept and cope with whatever choice they make," she said.
Once Jay decided to become a genetic counselor, she was tenacious in doing everything she could to get the best training possible as an undergraduate and a good headstart to her graduate school of choice.
After being accepted as a psychology major, she won a four-year UD Scholar Award and a three-year University Honors Program scholarship.
In doing so, she became eligible for the Dean's Scholar program, in which a student can create his or her own two-year course of study.
Because her chosen profession is so new, she decided to take advantage of the Dean's Scholar program.
It took a year to design a course of study that she knew would give her an advantage when she applied to graduate schools.
Her unusually appropriate curriculum, her 3.87 GPA and magna cum laude status, plus her undergraduate thesis, numerous honors and involvement in several honor societies, assured her acceptance by one of her top choice graduate schools.
In the fall, Jay will begin her studies at Beaver College in Pennsylvania which she says has one of the best genetic counseling programs in the nation and accepts only 10 new students a year. She turned down Sarah Lawrence College and a chance to interview with Brandeis University and Mt. Sinai Hospital to go into Beaver's two-year program, and she said she is delighted with her choice.
The school is in Glenside, Pa., just an hour from her home in Cherry Hill, N.J. Jay can commute to school three days a week, remain with her family and find an internship with a facility close to home.
Jay said she isn't certain things would have turned out the way they did if she hadn't been at a university that trusted her enough to design the course of study she needed to get a jump-start on the future.