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NOVA-Manassas celebrates DNA Day with special guest Kirk Odom

The Manassas Campus of Northern Virginia Community College recently celebrated the 62nd anniversary of the discovery of the DNA double helix.

Every year since 2011, Assistant Dean of Science Ia Gomez has organized the National DNA Day celebration at NOVA-Manassas. National DNA Day commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003 and the discovery of the double helix in 1953.

This year’s speaker was Kirk Odom who was falsely convicted of rape. After serving 21 years in prison and another nine years on parole, Odom was exonerated by DNA evidence. Odom’s compelling story about his wrongful conviction and the issues he is still facing kept the audience engaged. Gomez added to the presentation by establishing a connection between DNA science and its potential to change lives.

Several activities followed Odom’s presentation, including the awards ceremony for the DNA art contest, live music and lunch. Participants enjoyed DNA face painting, DNA candy, genetically modified food, DNA jewelry, molecular gastronomy and more. The event concluded with the raffle of an iPad.

Events like this provide our students with leadership skills and extracurricular experiences. Students truly enjoy teaching science to other students,” said Gomez.

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.