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CoastLine: DNA Results And How They Can Shake Up Family Narratives


Geneticists say human DNA is 99.9% the same.  Identical.  

And the tiny difference that shows up is actually rounding down, according to Anita Foeman, a West Chester University Professor who specializes in intercultural and organizational communication.  Anita Foeman is also the Founder and Primary Investigator of the DNA Discussion Project which started in 2006.  It’s a study that explores the family narrative of a person which can be, and often is, very different from what the DNA profile uncovers.

The University of North Carolina Wilmington has participated in the DNA Discussion Project for several years, and this year they allowed us to observe.  The process starts with a group of people who answer questions about who they think they are, then they take the DNA test, get results, and compare what their personal story with what the DNA test reveals.

Today, we’ve brought in three people from this year’s cohort who discovered something new in this process.  We find out how that new information is changing their family narrative – or not – and whether – and how – it affects the way they think about themselves.


Ann Freeman, Assistant Secretary to the UNCW Board of Trustees and Budget Manager; double alumna of UNCW

Ashlee Jensen, Executive Assistant for the Dean of the UNCW College of Health and Human Services; UNCW Master’s student in Social Work

Edith Ward, retired Housing Administrator for the New York State Housing Department; participates in  the UNCW Adult Scholars Leadership Program at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.
Rachel is a graduate of UNCW's Master of Public Administration program, specializing in Urban and Regional Policy and Planning. She also received a Master of Education and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and French Language & Literature from NC State University. She served as WHQR's News Fellow from 2017-2019. Contact her by email: rkeith@whqr.org or on Twitter @RachelKWHQR