AshleyMarianoAshley Mariano’s academic career has taken her from the University of Connecticut (bachelor degree), to Duke University (ASCP certification), to UAB (first year genetic counseling), to the Mayo Clinic (Genetic Counseling Laboratory internship) and back to UAB (scheduled to finish genetic counseling master’s May 2014).

Never one to shy away from new experiences and new challenges, part of the draw to the UAB School of Health Professions for Mariano, a native of Prospect, Conn., was the fact that the genetic counseling program enrolled its first class only three years ago. She wanted to be part of the growth and the excitement that surrounds a newer program.

“The faculty puts so much into the education of the students and really cares about us receiving the best education possible,” said Mariano. “I have so many mentors through this program that have pushed me through my first year; and I know they will be pushing me beyond graduation.”

Mariano chose genetic counseling because it will allow her to be an advocate for patients, families, colleagues and other health care professionals. She sees a lot of ambiguity surrounding genetic testing and believes her role upon graduation will follow that of the true definition of a counselor: a person who advises.

Ashley Mariano ASCP“I want to be able to educate patients so they have all the information necessary to make a decision that fits their worldview because these are decisions that will impact their lives immensely,” said Mariano. “Everyday people face decisions regarding reproductive options; surveillance or management options; or whether or not to even pursue genetic testing. Patients and their families need an advocate during the process and I want to be part of that process.”

(Mariano lab picture courtesy ASCP)

And she is doing everything possible to ensure that happens. Before joining the UAB Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences, Mariano worked as a molecular technologist at Duke University and earned certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). This summer, she was selected for a prestigious internship at the Mayo Clinic Genetic Counseling Laboratory.

Mariano, who has studied and worked across the country, tells incoming students to take advantage of the resources and expertise that are available right here at UAB.

“UAB provides students with opportunities that you may not find anywhere else so don’t be afraid to ask for help because the faculty is here to help us get the most out of our education,” said Mariano.