Insight into my heritage


Luke Bruce

This DNA model was created by graduate Sammy Huseman as student in Cortney Shaller’s class.

Heritage is something that always invoked curiosity in me. I was able to indulge in that curiosity after I took an ancestry test on

Most of the time when the question about ancestry came up to my family, they would reply with the same thing: “we’re British” or “we’re Irish.” Short answers like that never satisfied me, though. I wanted a more extensive look at my ancestry.

 My family and I never really had the time to go to an ancestry website and put some actual research into it, but the unknown was constantly gnawing at me. I really needed to find out where I was from. I did believe that we were British and Irish because of our last name Cassles, which is a name that we were able to vaguely trace back, but I always knew there was more to it. After trying to forget about it, we saw a commercial for 23andMe showing how people get the kit and send in samples of their saliva for testing. The sender receives data showing where certain parts of your DNA originate. After seeing the commercial, I was excited to try. My family sent in a sample of my DNA, and within two weeks the results were in.

The unknown was constantly gnawing at me. I really needed to find out where I was from.

— George Cassles, 12

The report included is very extensive and reveals the percentages of a person’s nationalities. My parents were correct about our British and Irish backgrounds. I am 48.4 percent  Irish and British. The rest of the results were unknown to me. I am also 27.3 percent Dutch. The results also said that I am 7 percent Scandinavian, which, in my opinion, is one of the most interesting results I received. When I think of Scandinavians and their history, I think of Vikings, some of the toughest warriors, traders and explorers. One reason I could have this much Scandinavian blood is for a period of about 300 years, Vikings carried out raids on Britain, which means that a significant portion of my DNA could have been mixed between my British and my Scandinavian blood. 

Rounding out the rest of Europe, I’m 0.5 percent Balkan and 0.4 percent Italian. The Balkans are a very broad area, so when it says I am Balkan, it could mean I am Greek, Albanian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Serbian or Bosnian. Each of these countries are home to vastly different cultures. I’m going to do some more research and see which country it is exactly. Overall my DNA is 99 percent European and much of it is so broadly European it cannot be linked to any specific country or region. The last bits of my ancestry are 0.1 percent Sudanese and 0.1 percent Native American. I would like to do more research on these to discover what Native American tribe exactly I have relation to (I would have to guess a tribe somewhere in the Texas Panhandle, because my family always talked about someone in our family being married to a Native American), and the history of Sudan and how far back my Sudanese heritage goes.

With my heritage questions now answered, my next step is to visit the places I am from.

— George Cassles, 12

With my heritage questions now answered, my next step is to visit the places I am from. It would be amazing to see a different part of the world and a different culture than what I am used to. The most important places for me to visit are Britain and Ireland. Considering they are the majority of my heritage, it would only be right to visit those two countries first. I would then like to visit the Netherlands where another vast majority of my ancestry is from. Following those I would love to visit the Balkans since it is a very diverse area, and it would be a truly amazing to be able to get into a look into their culture. Finally, a visit to Sudan would be a perfect ending to the trip around the world. Sudan made up a very small percentage of my DNA, but the trip wouldn’t feel complete if I didn’t get to see everywhere from my DNA results. 

I am very glad I was able to get this deep look into my heritage and finally quell my curiosity of where I was from and my self identity. I would urge people to do the same thing that I did. It was a truly amazing thing for me to be able to get a deeper look into who I am and where I came from.