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School of Medicine Columbia


Our Richard R. Ferrante Friend of the Genetic Counseling Program Award, S. Robert Young Outstanding Genetic Counselor Award, School of Medicine Distinguished Alumni Award and Victoria A. Vincent Clinical Supervision Award help us recognize individuals who have made a significant impact on the field of genetic counseling and the USC Genetic Counseling Program.

Friend of the Genetic Counseling Program Award

Richard Ferrante, Ph.D.

Richard R. Ferrante, PhD

Richard R. Ferrante, PhD, former Director of Disability Resources for the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, was the first recipient of the Friend of the Genetic Counseling Program Award. In 1983, he urged the genetics faculty to develop the program and has served as primary faculty in the classroom and on thesis committees ever since. His stalwart support led us to name the award in his honor. 

Shannon Davis

Shannon Davis, PhD

Our 2023 Friend of the Program is Shannon Davis, a developmental biologist with the University of South Carolina. Dr. Davis has supported our human development course through many lectures to our first year genetic counseling students and serves as an advisor for the evolution of the development curriculum. Thank you Dr. Davis for your continued dedication!

2022 Honoree

Sonja Higgins, MS, CGC

Sonja Higgins is a telehealth genetic counselor with Metis Genetics who specializes in prenatal and pediatric genetic counseling. Sonja is a 1996 graduate of the USC Genetic Counseling Program and an education leader in the field, having served as Assistant Director for the UNC Greensboro Genetic Counseling Program. She continues to invest in our students with telemedicine education, leading a reaccreditation subcommittee and serving as a member of our Advisory Board. Thank you Sonja for your continued dedication!

2021 Honoree

Gene Palmer

Gene Palmer is the Media Specialist for the UofSC School of Medicine Dean's Conference Center. Gene directs the videoconferencing and multimedia needs for the UofSC Genetic Counseling Program. Gene is graciously relied upon to troubleshoot, facilitate and implement the necessary technological components to support both students and faculty.  He has been a friend of the program for almost a decade and with his help this past year, we were able to successfully navigate the virtual classroom brought on by the pandemic. 

2020 Honoree

Stephanie Meredith, MA

Stephanie Meredith is the executive director of Lettercase, which produces high quality materials for health care providers to share with prospective parents of children with Down Syndrome and other trisomies. She is the author of "Understanding a Down Syndrome Diagnosis" and similar resources for other genetic conditions. She offers presentations and training nationwide about bridging relationships between patient advocacy groups and medical professionals. 

2019 Honoree

David Everman, MD

Dr. David Everman is a clinical geneticist with the Greenwood Genetic Center. Dr. Everman served as our medical director from 2011 to 2021 and is an invaluable guest lecturer for several of our program's courses. He is also involved in clinical and basic science research on the genetic basis of human limb malformations and in the supervision and education of medical genetics residents, pediatric residents and medical students.

2018 Honoree

G. Shashidar Pai, MD

Dr. Pai was honored for sharing our original vision to create a southeastern genetic counseling training program. He served as our first medical director for many years. He currently serves on our Advisory Board where his experience and perspectives strengthen the Program and guide our growth into the future. 

2017 Honoree

Courtney Truluck

Courtney Truluck and family were trailblazers, the very first family to undergo cancer genetic testing in Columbia over twenty years ago. By sharing her story with the Palmetto Health Foundation in 2016, Courtney raised awareness for the impact of cancer genetic counseling throughout our community.

2016 Honoree

Roz McConnaughy

Roz McConnaughy was recognized for investing her medical librarian expertise in the program as she guides faculty and students in integrating the latest evidence base in thesis research and clinical practice.

2015 Honoree

Lydia Matesic, PhD

USC Associate Professor of Biology, Dr. Matesic, was honored in 2015. Dr. Matesic challenges our students to understand the edge of genomic research technologies and where research is leading our clinical practice.

2014 Honoree

C. Thomas Caskey, MD

C. Thomas Caskey was the 2014 honoree, having created the impetus to launch the USC Genetic Counseling Fall Symposium with his 2013 avant-garde keynote address, "Counseling the Genome". 

2013 Honoree 

Faculty of the Greenwood Genetic Center

The faculty of the Greenwood Genetic Center have provided lecture, laboratory and clinical expertise to our students’ development since the inception of the program in 1985. The award was presented by Dr. Ferrante himself at the May 2013 Greenwood Genetics Center case conference, at which time we recognized the significant contributions of the center and especially of Doctors Skinner, Stevenson and Everman for their consistent support of genetic counselor education.

2012 Honoree

Professors Rich Goodwin (Cell Biology) and Erica Blanck (Anatomy)

Professors Goodwin and Blanck were honored in 2012 for their commitment to genetic counseling education. These professors, along with others from our basic science faculty, provide foundational education in human development in a four credit, two semester course for first year students. They go above and beyond for us every year.

2011 Honoree

Ken Corning, MS '93 and Angie Lichty, MS '99

Special Friends of the Program, Ken Corning and Angie Lichty, were recognized in 2011 for their teaching expertise which has become integral to the education of genetic counselors. Ken and Angie develop students’ pediatric genetic counseling skills through classroom instruction, interactive workshops and clinical rotations.

2010 Honoree

Ruth K. Abramson, PhD

The 2010 honoree Ruth K. Abramson, PhD, has taught psychiatric genetics to our students since the program's inception. Dr. Abramson developed the S.C. Huntington Disease Testing and Counseling Program more than 30 years ago, serving the families of South Carolina in this special area of medicine.

2009 Honoree

Madeleine Will

Director of Public Policy for the National Down Syndrome Society was honored in 2009, for her engagement in conversations and support of master of science thesis research as we have worked together to build greater understanding between the genetics and Down syndrome advocacy communities.

2008 Honoree

Wendell H. McKenzie, PhD

We recognized Wendell H. McKenzie, PhD., Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Genetics from North Carolina State University upon his retirement in 2008. Dr. McKenzie has lit the genetics enthusiasm of many undergraduate students over his career.

2007 Honoree

Richard R. Ferrante, PhD

Richard R. Ferrante, PhD, former Director of Disability Resources for the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. In 1983, Richard urged the genetics faculty to develop the program and has served as primary faculty in the classroom and on thesis committees ever since. 

Outstanding Genetic Counselor Award 

Robert Young Award

S. Robert Young, PhD

Each spring, the Genetic Counseling Program faculty select one member of the graduating class for the Outstanding Genetic Counselor Award, named for our founding director Dr. S. Robert Young. This graduate has performed in an exemplary manner in every facet of their professional education: in academic coursework, clinical rotations, interactions with faculty, service learning and as a representative of the Genetic Counseling Program. We always find it difficult to select just one.

  • 2021 Aubrey Rose
  • 2020 Meg Wilkes
  • 2019 Caitlyn Mitchell
  • 2018 Lauren Desrosier
  • 2017 Rachel Hickey
  • 2016 Molly Snyder and Natasha Rudy
  • 2015 Devon Haynes
  • 2014 Brittanie Morris
  • 2013 Ginger Edwardsen
  • 2012 Vruti Mehta and Audra Bettinelli
  • 2011 Madison Foster
  • 2010 Ravin Winfrey
  • 2009 Sally Cunningham Harris
  • 2008 Peggy Walker
  • 2007 Holly Hardin Zimmerman
  • 2006 Christina Barger
  • 2005 Bridget Aufmuth
  • 2004 Anne Baughman Bandholz
  • 2003 Lindsay Allen Metcalf
  • 2002 Stephanie Nix
  • 2001 Elizabeth Cook Dempsey
  • 2000 Mary Ann Whalen Campion
  • 1999 Amy Giordano Shealy
  • 1998 Lori Terry
  • 1997 Melissa Bennett
  • 1996 Jennifer Sullivan Sareela
  • 1995 Sonja Eubanks
  • 1994 Lara Berg
  • 1993 Jill Fischer
  • 1992 Debera Harris Zvejnieks

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Genetic Counseling Program has always recognized our success as a program comes from the accomplishments of our very active alumni. Since 2001, the School of Medicine has honored an outstanding alum each year, welcoming them to the School of Medicine Black Tie-White Coat Gala and the Dean’s Awards Dinner in the spring, and inviting the alum to visit with program faculty and students, often as a special guest lecturer. We are proud of our graduates!

Allison Bellomo

Allison Bellomo, MS, CGC

Allison Bellomo, MS, CGC, graduated from Furman University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2007, before obtaining her Master’s of Science in Genetic Counseling from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia Genetic Counseling Program in 2009. Upon graduation, she began clinical hereditary cancer genetic counseling at the Greenwood Genetic Center – Greenville Office. Bellomo obtained certification through the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2010 and transitioned to pediatric and adult genetic counseling in the same office at the Greenwood Genetic Center. She was employed by the Center for almost 10 years before transitioning to the Prisma Health Upstate Cancer Institute in 2019, where she is currently employed as a hereditary cancer genetic counselor. 

Bellomo has served as a lead supervisor for genetic counseling students in the USC program as part of their required clinical rotations since 2010, and she has also provided lectures for the online course Genetic Counseling: Career for the Future through the program. She is a strong advocate for her profession and has spearheaded efforts to garner state licensure for genetic counselors in South Carolina since 2012. Bellomo has also advocated for the genetic counseling profession at the national level, speaking to congressmen regarding CMS/Medicare recognition of genetic counselors as providers.

Bellomo, who is married with three young children, resides in Greenville. She is active in her local church and involved in multiple extracurricular activities that her children participate in.

  • 2022 Andrea Sellers (2005)
  • 2021 Ginger Hocutt (2013)
  • 2020 Kate Wilson (2007)
  • 2019 Holly H. Zimmerman (2007)
  • 2018 Debbie Zvejnieks (1992)
  • 2017 Emily Ellen Hardisty (2001)
  • 2016 Libby Malphrus (2001)
  • 2015 Peggy Walker (2008)
  • 2014 Katie Berrier Sheets (2009)
  • 2013 Cam Brasington (1988)
  • 2012 Kerry Crandall (1988)
  • 2011 Mary Ann Campion (2000)
  • 2010 Jennifer Sullivan (1996)
  • 2009 Melissa Bennett (1998)
  • 2008 Courtney Rowell Tate (2000)
  • 2007 Holly Peay (1997)
  • 2006 Sonja Eubanks (1996)
  • 2005 Vicki Vincent (1987)
  • 2004 Christine Miller (1989)
  • 2002 Jill Fischer (1993)
  • 2001 Cam Brasington (1988)

Genetic Counselor Supervision Award

Vicki Vincent

Victoria A. Vincent, MS, CGC

Named in honor of Vicki Vincent, MS, CGC who graduated in the inaugural class of the Genetic Counseling Program and serves on faculty as a teacher, mentor and clinical supervisor for over 30 years. This award honors a genetic counselor that serves as an exemplary clinical rotation supervisor. The honoree is nominated by the graduating genetic counselors annually and awarded to an individual who exhibits the qualities of an ideal supervisor: "providing balanced feedback, cultivating the critical thinking process, building confidence, allowing autonomy with respect for student opinion and fostering a collegial relationship." 

Natasha Rudy

Natasha Rudy, MS, CGC

Natasha, a graduate of the USC Program, was recognized as the 2023 outstanding supervisor for her ability to both support and challenge students in their professional development. Natasha is a genetic counselor with the Greenwood Genetic Center in Greenville, SC and provides our students with excellent learning opportunities while maintaining high quality patient care and serving as an example of what a genetic counselor should be! 

  • 2022 Paige Babb
  • 2021 Shandrea Foster (2018)
  • 2020 Jessica Davis
  • 2019 Alexandra H. Bailey
  • 2018 Sally Shields
  • 2017 Vicki Vincent (1987)


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