Genetic Counseling Student Awarded Unique Internship Opportunity

Internship-OpportunityRising second-year genetic counseling students in The Ohio State University Genetic Counseling Graduate Program (GCGP) spend their summer in full-time clinical rotations to supplement knowledge learned during the academic year. One student, Shontiara Johnson, was both shocked and grateful to be awarded a $10,000 stipend to intern as Color Health’s 2021 Genetic Counseling Summer Scholar. As the first student to ever intern for this specific program at Color Health, she had little idea what the summer had in store for her.

At Color Health, Shontiara was able to build on skills learned during her first academic year in the GCGP, as well as develop some new skills. She had the opportunity to counsel patients from around the world on hereditary heart disease, hereditary cancer and medication response test results. As a part of the genetic counseling team, she attended networking opportunities with various departments around Color Health, allowing her to observe the infrastructure of a large-scale public health company, and experience how different departments collaborate and communicate with each other. She was also able to write patient-friendly frequently asked questions (FAQs) for the Genetic Counseling Resource, an integral part of the “All of Us” Research Project funded by the National Institutes of Health that aims to study health and disease in diverse populations within the United States.

Shontiara recounts developing a remote program providing genetic counseling experiences for graduate school applicants from underrepresented backgrounds called “The GC Immersive at Color” as her most memorable experience of the summer. She drew on her personal experience as a first-generation college student living in a rural community to address barriers that many genetic counseling applicants face. Detailing these barriers and solutions to combat those barriers in her personal statement prompted a deeper discussion with her supervisors at Color Health, Kelly Tangney, MS, and Carla McGruder, MS, which later led to the development of the program.

“I felt welcomed and supported by everyone from the start of my internship until the end. The positive culture at Color allows staff members, and even interns, to exchange ideas that affect change in a supportive and safe space. I am very grateful to my supervisors in addition to the other genetic counselors that have been influential to my growth this summer, as well as to the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program at Ohio State for coordinating this experience for my summer rotation,” Shontiara says.

Shontiara feels that she entered her final year of grad school wiser and more prepared because of the supervision she had this summer as well as the many learning experiences provided during the internship at Color Health.

“I am fortunate to have been granted this unique opportunity. My training at The Ohio State University Genetic Counseling Graduate Program gave me the necessary tools to succeed during this internship. I am honored to have represented Ohio State as Color Health’s 2021 Genetic Counseling Summer Scholar, and I hope the next scholar enjoys their time at Color as much as I have.”

If you'd like to connect with a student or alumni of the Ohio State Genetic Counseling Graduate Program, please contact our office at