Graduate Student at Sarah Lawrence College, NY Masters of Science in Human Genetics
ISU Class of 2016, Biology
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Newfound New Yorker
A Minnesota native and ISU grad, Laura Fisher never thought she would be living out in New York, but applying to Sarah Lawrence College’s Genetics program on a whim turned out to be one of her most rewarding experiences. Between classes in Yonkers three days a week, weekly clinical rotations in the Bronx and weekend trips into Manhattan it’s safe to say she’s found a place to call home on the East Coast.
“The fact I got in and that I was fulfilling the goals I had set for myself out weighed any nervousness about coming out here,” said Fisher. “I was so ready to move on with my life after undergrad.”
The nervousness didn’t set in until she got off the plane and started unpacking everything from home that she managed the cram into a few suitcases.
“The city is a completely different environment than I had ever experienced before,” said Fisher. “It has so much more culture and diversity than I have ever found in the Midwest. This was a little overwhelming because I had never really dealt with some many people who are so different than me, but it has been such a growing process and I would never take this time back.”
In addition to gaining new cultural experiences, Laura is getting classroom experience with the first ever genetic counseling program and hands-on hospital experience with a certified genetic counselor.
“It’s the perfect mix of social skills and science,” said Fisher. “I get to educate individuals, while keeping up to date with new genetics news.”
She’s learning new material in my classes that she was never exposed to in undergrad, such as the hands on skill of genetic counseling and how to interact with people in a medical setting.
“I’m learning to retain the information I learn in class and how to apply it to the real world,” said Fisher.
Contrary to her five day a week class schedule and 300+ student lectures at ISU, Laura spends most of her time with her small tight-knit class at Sarah Lawrence.
“I have 27 other classmates who I spend pretty much all my time with,” said Fisher. “I have class during the day with them, most nights we have study sessions, and on the weekends I’m normally hanging out with at least a few people from class.”
Grad school applications and interviews took up a lot of her time senior year and she used the Writing and Media Center on multiple occasions for her personal statements, but there are a few things she wishes she had done differently.
“Practice your interviewing skills with the services the school provides and don’t be discouraged if you don’t get in on the first try,” said Fisher. She also suggested for undergraduates to apply to schools away from their hometowns and outside of their comfort zones, because “that will allow you grow in more ways than just your education,” said Fisher.
For her references, she used two professors whose labs she did research for and for the third she used my boss in the genetics teaching laboratory she worked in.
She also suggested that you should always be yourself in interviews. “They’ll know if you are faking and they will appreciate your genuineness,” said Fisher.
Finally, she said doing more job shadows can only help you.
“When interviewing they told me that they would have preferred if I had more experience shadowing genetic counselors,” said Fisher. “Over 250 people applied for 28 positions, so those who didn’t fit the qualifications for the most part did not get in.”
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
“I wish I had been more involved on campus in organizations outside of my sorority,” said Fisher. Not only did my grad school application look sparse when it came to activities outside of school and work, I feel like I missed out on meeting a lot of great people outside of my typical social circle.”
She thinks getting involved with something that pushes your limits and gives you a new perspective is one of the most valuable things you can do.
“I took a job as a direct support staff for adults with disabilities and I believe that position was a huge reason why I got into school,” said Fisher. “My program puts an emphasis in stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying to understand the individuals we will meet in our future careers.”
In the first 10 weeks of her program she had an internship at a day habilitation program for adults with disabilities in a low socioeconomic area of the South Bronx while her roommate worked with people on the other end of the spectrum on the Upper East Side.
“The more you can get out and meet different types of people the more prepared you will be for graduate school and that you will be more fulfilled as a person,” said Fisher.