Jamison BeekIt was an opportunity to be a part of a new program in a different part of the country that drew Jamison Beek to UAB’s Genetic Counseling program two years ago.

“I wanted a new experience,” said Beek. “I have lived in the Midwest my whole life.”

He grew up in Sioux Falls, S.D. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.  Beek said graduate school provided him the chance to experience life somewhere else and opportunities at his fingertips.

“The main reason I chose UAB was because I was impressed by the variety of clinical opportunities that were available to me as a Genetic Counseling student,” said Beek.

As a Genetic Counselor, he’s able to interact with patients which he didn’t get to do spending years in a laboratory.  He can talk to families about genetic disease, family history and inheritance of different risks and treatment options and provide psycho-social counseling.

“I just wanted to use my passion for genetics in a way that would allow me to connect with people,” he says. “Even when people are going through difficult situations, I get satisfaction through supporting them in any way that I can.”

He’s been working recently at the UAB Medical Genomics Laboratory. In March, he took home first place in the annual UAB Graduate Research Day in the category of “Public Health and Social and Behavioral Sciences.” His research was titled, “Are Health Care Professionals Ready and Willing to Incorporate Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Test Results Into Patient Care?”

Now he is one of five students about to graduate as the first Genetic Counseling class in the Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences on May 12, 2012. He even has a huge role to play that day.

“I’m honored to have the privilege to be the graduate speaker at the spring commencement,” said Beek.

As he reflects on his final days as a student, Beek tells students to find something you are passionate about and just go for it.

“I’m a firm believer that if you work hard you can accomplish your goals,” said Beek. “Ever since the day I decided to become a genetic counselor, I’ve been putting all my efforts to making that goal happen.Beek’s goal now is to pursue his career as a Genetic Counselor back in the Midwest to be closer to family and friends. And his biggest purpose yet is his upcoming marriage this fall.