In May 2014, Amber Mathiesen, MS, LCGC, won the fifth annual UUGPGC Teaching Award, which is conferred by the second year students and supported by the Division of Medical Genetics. We sat down with Amber to talk with her about this award and her role in the UUGPGC.
You are the first UUGPGC alumna to win this award: What does it mean to you? How do you feel the program supported you?
As a graduate of the UUGPGC, and now as a supervisor, mentor, and teacher, I can say I truly love working with the UUGPGC and the participants. Throughout my years as a student I remember times that were hard, but more importantly I remember the people in this program and the relationships that were developed that help me through those times. I always felt supported and cared about. More specifically, I felt that I could go to my supervisors, teachers, mentor, and research committee and get true confirmation of my strengths and assistance on working through my weaknesses. I truly felt that they wanted me to succeed. Being in that environment as a student left an impression on me. Now as my role has changed, I want the students to get that same support from me. While realizing everyone will have different strengths and weaknesses, my intention and hope is to help the students be the best genetic counselors they can be.
Why do you enjoy teaching?
Teaching is something I always felt I would like to do. Teaching, to me is stimulating, scary, exciting, challenging, and inspiring all at the same time. Although I want to say I enjoy teaching because it helps me learn and makes me a better genetic counselor (which is true), the main reason I love teaching is because it allows me a way to help others. I have teachers who I will never forget because either they inspired me or helped me in some way. I just hope to do the same for others.
What do you like about being a Genetic Counselor?
There are many reasons I like being a Genetic Counselor including the opportunity for lifelong learning, working with a diverse population, the varied career possibilities, and being in an intellectually and emotionally stimulating work environment. Although there are many things to love about genetic counseling, what I like most is again the opportunity to contribute to and help others. I appreciate being able to support patients and students through challenging times. Overall, my favorite moments are when you get to celebrate with patients when they get good news. When patients cry tears of joy after receiving a normal test result or are now pregnant with a healthy baby after a previous difficult pregnancy, I love this. I enjoy seeing their pictures and hearing their stories. On these same lines I enjoy being there when a student succeeds and make progress toward their goals.
Thank you, Amber, for all of your contributions to our program!