Identical Twin 4.0 Students Among Class of ‘15

Almost 1,300 new graduates will receive their degrees Saturday at North Carolina A&T State University’s commencement. Among them will be identical twins Alissa and Ariel Barlow, graduating with identical 4.0 averages.

Their paths through the university have varied only slightly over the past four years. Alissa has been an economics major. Ariel majored in marketing and sales. Alissa had internships with GE Capital; Ariel, with Kraft and 3M. They’ve been active in different organizations, the Aggie Economics Association and American Marketing Association, for example.

The twins were co-valedictorians at Armstrong High School in Richmond, Virginia. At A&T, both were honor students and received the Dowdy Scholarship, the university’s preeminent four-year scholarship. And they arrived on campus with the same goal.

“When we came in as freshman, we definitely had a goal to graduate with a 4.0,” Alissa says. “We had an honors mentor who actually had a 4.0. That set the groundwork for us. We said, ‘If she can do it, then we can definitely do it, too.’”

That commitment didn’t require them to concentrate solely on academics at the expense of other activities. Both were peer mentors, members of the Council of Presidents and parliamentarians for organizations they were involved in.

“We prioritized our time so we could do both,” Ariel says.

Alissa says extracurricular and organizational activities are a factor in achieving academic goals: “Don’t try to focus too much on one thing over the other, because that’s how you get lost. If you focus too much on academics, then you get tired of academics.”

They trace their academic ambitions back to their mother’s expectations. “Our mother really did demand excellence from us,” Ariel says. “She expected us to do the best we could.”

After graduation, Alissa will go to work for GE Capital; Ariel will join General Mills.

A&T will award 1,292 degrees, including 985 baccalaureate degrees, 292 master’s degrees and 15 doctoral degrees. Those numbers represent a 10 percent increase in bachelor’s degrees and a 9 percent increase in graduate degrees.

The ceremony will be held at 8:30 a.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum. The speaker will be U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, one of the civil rights movement’s most prominent leaders for the past 50 years. Lewis also will receive the university’s Human Rights Medal, awarded annually to an individual who has strived to correct social injustice and has contributed significantly to the betterment of the world.

Lewis was an organizer and speaker at the 1963 march on Washington and an organizer of the March 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights. Since 1986, he has served in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he has become known as “the conscience of the U.S. Congress.”

Graduation online

The ceremony will be streamed live online. The internet address will be available Saturday morning on the A&T homepage, www.ncat.edu.

Live coverage also will be available on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Vine, using the hashtags #NCAT #NCATGrad and #Selma50.