McKendree's Multiples

Twins are trending at the Lebanon campus

Twins who grow up together must make a significant decision when it is time to apply for college: stick together or part ways?

While twins are unavoidably compared to each other throughout their lives, studying at different colleges can offer a chance for
each to assert his or her identity. Currently at McKendree University, at least 10 pairs of twins have decided to become Bearcats together, which seems an extraordinary number for a campus this size. What attracted them?

Photo of the Bayer TwinsFor seniors Melissa and Melinda Bayer, identical twins from
Collinsville, Ill., choosing to go to McKendree together was easy. “We didn’t really visit a lot of colleges,” said Melinda. “Being apart for us would be a challenge.” Melissa, a science education major, and Melinda, a math education major, plan to teach at the high school level after graduation.

Having an older sibling who studied at McKendree, fraternal
twins Adriana and Giuliana Gonzalez, juniors from Lima, Peru, explained this was their first and only choice. “We picked McKendree right away,” said Adriana.

Photo of the Rhymer TwinsSophomores Cody and Kyle Rhymer, of Cherry Valley, Ill.,
originally planned to go to separate schools - Cody to St. Francis to study physical therapy and Kyle to McKendree for sociology.

Eventually, the identical twins decided to attend McKendree and
play on the golf team.

Twins have someone to
rely on if they are in an uncomfortable situation or need encouragement or a familiar study partner.

Being together throughout childhood and now at college, do twins feel the need to break away from each other occasionally? “Definitely, yes,” answered the Gonzalezes. Their sisterly love is apparent but naturally they want time for themselves, too. “We try not to take all of our classes together,” said Adriana. With identical double majors—economics and finance, and management - they must take the same required classes to graduate. If her sister takes a particular class one semester, Giuliana explained, she plans on taking it the following semester.

Photo of the Schmid TwinsFirst-year students Dawn and Megan Schmid, of Columbia, Ill.,
feel indifferent about the need to separate. “The majority of the time we are together,” said Dawn. “[College] is easier if we stay together.” Dawn is a theatre major-music minor and Megan is a music education major. Both are in the Color Guard, Concert Choir and the Marching Bearcat Band. “Personality-wise, it can be scary how similar we are sometimes,” Dawn added.

Experiencing college life with another family member has its
advantages. Twins have someone to rely on if they are in an uncomfortable situation or need encouragement or a familiar study partner.

Photo of the Stein TwinsNone of McKendree’s multiples believe that having a sibling
close by has kept them from forming other friendships. Chelsey and Cody Stein, freshmen who commute from Trenton, Ill., say it is nice having a twin at school. “It made [New Student Orientation] easier but it hasn’t held us back any because we both have made our own friends,” said Cody, a computer science major. “I am more sociable [than my sister]. I like to be around people most of the time.” Accounting major Chelsey, the shyer of the two, prefers “being around smaller crowds of people or studying.” Their mom, Amy, is on campus as well; she works in the Information Technology Department.

Photo of the Koerkenmeier TwinsGraduate students Brooke and Brittany Koerkenmeier enjoyed
having each other to rely on throughout their undergraduate years at McKendree. “We always had a friend,” said Brittany. The pair studied together and participated in campus activities that brought them closer. “Having a twin definitely did not hold us back,” Brooke said. “We would do our own thing.” The 2010 graduates from Breese, Ill., are now pursuing master’s degrees in business administration at McKendree.

The Bayer sisters agreed that being together has made their
years at McKendree more relaxed. “We took a couple of classes together and it made us more comfortable,” said Melissa. “It’s not just the two of us all the time,” Melinda pointed out. While both play on the volleyball team and have made friends through the sport, they have formed friendships through other clubs and campus activities. Though they bear a strong resemblance, “Melissa is more laid-back,” said Melinda, who is right-handed, describing her southpaw sister who is the more artistic of the two.

Photo of the Mills TwinsAlthough they are roommates, Hanalei and Maile Mills’ schedules
don’t allow them much time together. “We only see each other at lunch, really, and sometimes at work,” said Maile, a music performance and sociology-criminal justice double major. The twins are gradually learning more about themselves in their freshman year. “We’re becoming more independent and we tend to disagree more,” said Maile.

For some twins,
academic or athletic competition becomes friendly sibling rivalry, as they joke or tease slightly to push one another to do better.

Sharing a residence hall room can help ease twins’ transition to college. “When we moved to Mascoutah, we had separate rooms for a while,” said Hanalei, a psychology major. The Mills sisters chose to live together in Baker Hall to be more involved in campus activities, such as music. Maile plays the flute and Hanalei the euphonium. “We also share a car,” added Maile. The Rhymer brothers have been lifelong roommates. “We have had bunk beds for the majority of our life,” said Cody, “even during our freshman year.” He and Kyle share an apartment at McKendree West.

For some twins, academic or athletic competition becomes
friendly sibling rivalry, as they joke or tease slightly to push one another to do better. Dawn and Megan Schmid are mainly competitive academically. “Our grades are pretty much the same,” said Megan.

Twins who major in the same subject, like the Koerkenmeiers,
are natural rivals in the classroom. “We keep each other in check,” said Brittany.

Photo of the Gonzalez TwinsFor the Gonzalez twins, who play on the women’s tennis team,
“there is always a competition between twins.” The sisters are constantly aware of each other’s performance. “We have pressure to be equally successful,” said Adriana. And they are, on the tennis court and off; both are on the President’s List for their 4.0 grade point average. While they sometimes play as doubles, at times they must compete against each other. Even as the sisters battle to see who comes out on top, they still encourage each other, help each other with homework and are there for support when one of them needs it. Perhaps it is outside pressure that compels Adriana and Giuliana to out-do each other. “We get a lot of questions all the time about which one of us is better at something than the other,” said Giuliana.

Paying for college for one student is more than enough, let alone
two at the same time. The financial impact on the twins’ families is not always easy, but many of the students are thankful to receive a McKendree scholarship and financial aid. The Schmid sisters are assertive in finding ways to help offset the tuition cost. “We keep jobs and work whenever we get the chance,” said Dawn, “which means going home every weekend.” Both Cody and Kyle Rhymer - who have a third brother in college - received golf scholarships, as well as financial aid.

McKendree’s many multiples could easily make an impression
on the University in many ways. They could start their own unique campus organization if they wanted, for example. This movement would not end with the current group. According to Chris Hall, vice president of admission and financial aid, the trend is likely to continue; a number of twins have registered for Preview Days on campus as prospective new students.