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Profile: Diane Allingham-Hawkins

Name: Diane Allingham-Hawkins

Profession: Geneticist/King’s Student

Hometown: Marshfield, Wisconsin

Tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do

I am a laboratory geneticist. I work for a company called PreventionGenetics, LLC, located in Marshfield, WI, just about right in the middle of the state. I oversee genetic testing for diagnostic purposes including reviewing the results and writing the reports. My main areas of interest are pregnancy loss, hereditary cancer, and whole exome testing.  I am also a student in the online Certificate Program in Loss, Grief, and Bereavement at King’s.


How did you decide to go into genetics?

I had a biology teacher in grade 11 that taught us about Gregor Mendel and his peas. I found that I enjoyed the concepts in genetics and had an affinity for it. Once at Western, I specialized in genetics after 3rd year, earning my BSc in Honors Genetics before going to grad school at McMaster for my PhD in Human Genetics.


What is your best memory of Western?

It’s hard to choose just one! I loved my program in Genetics and had a great community of classmates. I also worked for the Event Staff, a group of students that worked providing security at campus events. I made many great friends through Event Staff, many of whom I am still in touch with today, more than 30 years later!


What are your favourite places on campus?

Probably the place I hung out most during the day between classes was Centre Spot in the UCC. It was a great place to meet friends, the food was pretty good and relatively cheap, which is important on a student budget! For entertainment, we often went to an on-campus pub called The Elbow Room, which was located on the lower level of the UCC beside the bookstore. I think it was closed many years ago…


What made you decide to return to school as a student in the Thanatology program at King’s?

In 2010/2011, I experienced two major deaths – my husband followed less than 10 months later by my father. While navigating the treacherous path of grief, I reached out to an organization called Bereaved Families of Ontario York Region (BFOYR). There I found support and compassion that really helped me. Later, I wanted to give back so I became a volunteer for BFOYR, providing peer support and leading support sessions and support groups. In early 2015, I was at a bit of a crossroads in my career and my career coach asked me “In an ideal world with no barriers, what would you want to do? I was almost surprised to hear myself say “grief counseling” She encouraged me to explore what I would need to do and that lead me to the online Certificate Program in Loss, Grief, and Bereavement at King’s. I started taking classes in the fall of 2015 and after this semester, I will have completed 3 of the 5 credits in the program. While I have no plans to give up my “day job” at this point, I hope this program will help me to be a better volunteer bereavement counselor.


What career advice do you have for Western students?

Do something you absolutely love, something you have a passion for and that keeps your interest. Don’t make career decisions based on what others – your friends or family—want you to do. Careers are very long and doing something that doesn’t inspire you is exhausting. Do what YOU want to do.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time, I like to read, exercise, and cook


What do you think of Her Campus? Would you have joined when you were at Western?

I really enjoy Her Campus! I love how the article range from fun to serious and everything in between. If it had existed when I was at Western (which would have required fast forwarding the widespread use of the internet by 10 years or so!), I definitely would have joined!

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Alex Hawkins

Western '21

Alex is doing a master's degree in library and information science. She graduated with a BA in psychology and criminology in 2019. She previously served as co-Campus Correspondent and President of Her Campus Western. Follow her on insta @alexhawkins65.
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