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Young Alum of the Month: Emily Franciskato

Emily FranciskatoName:  Emily Franciskato

Hometown:  Lee’s Summit, MO

Major and graduation date:  Genetics, minor in Psychology, May 2020

Favorite ISU class:  My favorite class at ISU was Genetics 409 with Dr. Rodermel.  It was a small class with great discussion about genetics topics ranging from early beliefs about inheritance to testing technologies we use today. The genetics courses at Iowa State set me up for success for my didactic training in my genetic counseling graduate program.

Job Title & Company:  Reproductive Genetic Counselor and Assistant in Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Major Job/Position Responsibilities:  As a reproductive genetic counselor, I see patients before becoming pregnant to discuss family planning options or during pregnancy to discuss testing options/results or differences that we are seeing on ultrasound.  These conversations can be heavy, but I get to work with amazing families, providers, and advocacy organizations along the way.  I am also a member of the Vanderbilt University Master of Genetic Counseling Program faculty.  Faculty give lectures regarding genetic counseling topics, supervises students in clinic, and advise on student research projects.

Emily FranciskatoWhat you like most about your job/position?  I love working in the world of genetics because I am constantly learning something new.  Everyday there is another genetic test or condition that I learn more about.  I also get to put together the pieces of a complex puzzle when we are seeing families for ultrasound findings or a family history of something, but all testing has returned uninformative.  When we finally get that answer for patients through genetic testing, it’s so rewarding.  So many families have wondered “why us” or “what caused this” for so long, and to take away that uncertainty for them and open the door to other healthcare and family planning opportunities is the best part of my job.

What advice would you give to current students pursuing a career in Agriculture and Life Sciences?  Get involved in learning opportunities, even if you don’t think it relates directly to your field.  I had the opportunity to go to Uganda with the ISU-Uganda Program through CALS.  While the focus of the program is sustainable agriculture, I also got to learn valuable skills that I utilize in my genetic counseling practice every day like cultural competency, problem solving, teaching, and research.  This experience changed how I view the world, and that experience is invaluable when deciding what you want your next steps to be after graduation and leaving Ames.