My Screening Journey: Part 1

February 26, 2015

by Sierra Weiss


My name is Sierra and I am a freshman at Emory University, originally from Boston, MA. Although I am only 18 years old and not planning on having children any time in the near future, I have decided to be screened to learn more about my genetic makeup and to discover whether or not I am a carrier for any rare genetic disorders that could potentially be passed to my future children.

You may be wondering, why not just wait to be screened when I’m actually thinking about having kids? Well, it’s never too early to start learning about your potential risk! I also happen to be really interested in genetics and JScreen makes learning more about my own genes easy to do and an educational process that I feel comfortable partaking in.

For the past several years, I have been very involved in volunteer and work opportunities in organizations that foster the inclusion of people with disabilities. I have learned so much from the disabled students I’ve worked with, and see extreme potential and passion in each one. My work with disabilities sparked a passion for genetics and has inspired me to undertake research projects on the genetics of certain disabilities, such as Down syndrome. While I’ve been able to see what DNA looks like in test tubes during science classes, I have never had the opportunity to really learn about my own genetic makeup.

I strongly believe in inclusivity and the need to create equal opportunities for people of all abilities. I’m also acutely aware that there are some genetic diseases that can truly compromise a person’s quality of life. The diseases that JScreen tests for are often traumatic and painful for both the child and the parents involved, and being screened allows parents to make educated decisions based on their own personal risk.

Despite children being further off on the horizon for me, I believe it’s never too early to start thinking about my future, and to know what’s in store. When I do decide to have children, I want to give them their best chance at an incredible future. I am excited and nervous to learn about my genes and whether or not I am a carrier for any genetic disorders. I hope that you will follow me on my journey through this three post mini-series about my experience using JScreen’s test kit!


JScreen is a non-profit, community-based public health initiative dedicated to preventing Jewish genetic diseases. Headquartered in Atlanta at Emory University School of Medicine, the JScreen initiative is a collaboration among clinical geneticists, socially minded businesses, and nonprofits to provide everyday people with a ready access point to cutting-edge genetic testing technology, patient education, and genetic counseling services.