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Are we more than DNA? Testing provides some answers.

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Lucy Sandeen

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Are we more than DNA? Testing provides some answers.

DNA testing allows people to see ancestry and predisposition to disease. Senior Adelia Bergner chose to take a DNA test because she had heard her parents talk about their ancestry before, “so I was curious about where I come from,” she said.

DNA testing allows people to see ancestry and predisposition to disease. Senior Adelia Bergner chose to take a DNA test because she had heard her parents talk about their ancestry before, “so I was curious about where I come from,” she said.

Flickr CC: Eric Schepers

DNA testing allows people to see ancestry and predisposition to disease. Senior Adelia Bergner chose to take a DNA test because she had heard her parents talk about their ancestry before, “so I was curious about where I come from,” she said.

Flickr CC: Eric Schepers

Flickr CC: Eric Schepers

DNA testing allows people to see ancestry and predisposition to disease. Senior Adelia Bergner chose to take a DNA test because she had heard her parents talk about their ancestry before, “so I was curious about where I come from,” she said.

Over the past few years, companies such as 23andMe and AncestryDNA have made DNA testing more accessible than ever, prompting thousands of consumers to submit their DNA samples in hopes of gaining insights into their ethnic ancestry, genetic predispositions, and race. Their findings have led many to reevaluate their identities and, in some cases, change how they view their race.

For Spanish teacher Rolando Castellanos and senior Adelia Bergner, however, their results didn’t change how they thought about their identities.

While Castellanos found that he had different ancestry than he had expected, he wasn’t too surprised. His results showed that he had Afro, Taíno, and Jewish blood in his family.

“It was like, wow, that makes so much sense because sure, most of us have descendants that will go down to Africa, and sure, most of my family is from Spain, and sure, the Jewish were in Spain for a thousand years. And so it was fascinating to find out,” Castellanos said.

Castellanos’s daughter had ordered a DNA test first, and when she got her results back, he decided he wanted to see what his results yielded out of curiosity, but his results haven’t changed how he thinks about his identity.

“I don’t see myself in a box of one group or another—I’m a person. But it re-emphasizes the human interaction through life and through history, and I think a lot of people will be surprised to find out where your roots take you to. That, to me, is the evolution of humanity,” Castellanos said.

While his ancestry doesn’t change the connections he has to other ethnic groups, it does reaffirm for him the fact that “we are all the human race,” he said. Castellanos also wishes that he could show his DNA results to members of his family who have passed.

“In my family, there are people who are fairly racist, and I wish I could go back to their life—most of them are not alive anymore—and say, ‘Hey, in our family we have roots that go there and there and there,” he said.

Castellanos chose not to see if he had any genetic predispositions because the diseases that his family has had, like Parkinson’s, don’t have any cures, so he didn’t see a point in finding out. In any case, he believes that genetics is an area of science that is evolving and growing, and he doesn’t put complete faith in the results.

Senior Adelia Bergner chose to take a DNA test because she had heard her parents talk about their ancestry before.

“I was curious about where I come from,” she said.

She was also intrigued by the medical aspect of DNA testing, which she had learned about in her genetics class. While her parents didn’t include medical results in her package because they didn’t want it to bring her worry, she downloaded her genome and found her genetic predispositions through a different third-party.

“I found out that I was predisposed to Alzheimer’s, which was a bit of a shock,” Bergner said.

Bergner’s ancestry wasn’t surprising; a lot of the lineage that her family had claimed proved to be true.

“A lot of the ancestry that my grandparents claimed, like ‘Oh, yeah, my great-grandmother was Swiss,” that came through in the DNA test.”

The DNA testing didn’t change how she thought about race, mostly because her results confirmed the ethnicities with which she had previously identified.

The Erik Schepers DNA image can be found at Flickr CC.

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About the Writer
Lucy Sandeen, News Editor

Lucy Sandeen is The Rubicon’s News Editor for the 2017-2018 school year. In her sophomore year, her love for writing, researching, and searching for...

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