Before college, Maddy Halseth knew two things: She wanted to major in biology; but she didn’t want to go to medical school. While researching what career options that path presented, she stumbled upon genetic counseling, which analyzes a person’s risk of inherited diseases and makes recommendations. “I thought it was really interesting,” Halseth recalls, and after finding UCI’s Genetic Counseling Special Interest Group during her freshman year, she was sold on the idea. The group, which Halseth now leads, “taught me so much more about the profession,” she says. “It combines my love for helping people with my love for science and gives me the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.” When not deciphering DNA, Halseth crochets, practices martial arts with the Wushu Club at UCI and serves as a peer academic advisor. “Maddy has positively impacted the lives of her fellow students by offering a listening ear and providing friendship and guidance,” says Diana Tien-Chan, the academic counselor who oversaw Halseth’s peer advising work. “She’s extremely hardworking, motivated and creative. I believe that she’s one of the finest students at UCI and will certainly make UCI proud.”
What is your favorite memory at UCI?
Being a peer academic advisor for the School of Biological Sciences. The other bio sci peer advisors have become some of my best friends here, and it’s so fun getting to work with them. The academic counselors are so kind, and I have learned so much about life and professional development from them. This position has taught me to be sure of myself, and I am so grateful for this experience!
What are your plans after graduation?
I plan on completing a master’s program in genetic counseling after taking a gap year. I’ll be applying this fall. A large part of my gap year will be saving money for grad school. I hope to find a job related to genetic counseling. Or I might become a substitute teacher for a year or so to gain experience working with kids and learn how to explain genetic concepts at that level.
“Maddy has positively impacted the lives of her fellow students by offering a listening ear and providing friendship and guidance.”
– Diana Tien-Chan, the academic counselor who oversaw Halseth’s peer advising work
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself having completed my master’s in genetic counseling and working as a genetic counselor in a clinical setting.
Who was your biggest influence at UCI?
I think it’s hard to pick just one person, but I do feel that all my friends were so influential on my life at UCI. I appreciate all of them for pushing me to be my best and also supporting me and being there for me when I needed them.
What do you know now that you wish you had known before coming to UCI?
It’s OK to ask for help. In high school, I was very self-sufficient and never asked for any assistance with anything. Once I got to college, it was a bit challenging to adapt to the course load. There was a stigma in my head about going to tutoring, and it took me a while to realize that tutoring is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s utilized by so many students here. I’m now much more comfortable knowing the point at which I should ask for help and am OK admitting that I can’t do everything on my own.