Born 11 minutes apart identical twins Arianna Brie and Brianna Arie Smith, are the first to graduate in their family. They entered Florida A&M University in different semesters but will leave the ‘Hill’ together on Saturday.
Arianna, a cardiopulmonary science student, said after touring FAMU she knew it was the perfect school to continue her studies.
“I was like ‘oh my God, all these hills, how am I going to do it?’ I think I really love FAMU, something about it felt like home,” Arianna said.
After graduation, Arianna wants to find a career path doing respiratory care and choose a great hospital to work at within the neonatal unit, while pursuing her master’s degree with something involving the medical field.
Brianna, an interdisciplinary studies student, said she chose FAMU because the faculty was genuine and was unlike any other schools she had been to.
After graduation Brianna plans to attend Florida State University’s Public Health master’s program, then get her doctorate degree in environmental science.
The twins grew up with a single mother, older brother and two younger sisters, but their mother instilled in them to do better than she did.
“Our mother instilled in us to go to college. After losing our brother Rashard, to cancer at 3-years-old, she spent a lot of time with the nurses and doctors, so she encouraged us to take the medical path,” the twins said.
The twins recalled several memories they encountered during their undergraduate studies.
“Living in McGuinn Hall was a challenge because every time they did inspections they would fail us. They said we had too much stuff in there, too much food; they’d penalize us for everything. I think they were overwhelmed because it was two of us and we had double everything. We got all the fines,” the twins said jokingly.
The twins have been at FAMU for a while due to the different pathways they took to get to the finish line.
“We didn’t have anyone else to influence us so that’s probably why we’re here a little bit longer but we know the ropes now and we’re definitely going to encourage our siblings to go and anyone else to go to college,” the twins said.
Their grandfather would always tell them when they went to see him, “You're going do it, you're going to do it.”
In tears, Arianna said their grandfather wanted them to graduate and Brianna said while he was lying in his bed sick she would ask him if he'd be there and he'd reply, “Right on, I'm going to be there.”
Their grandfather was one of their main support systems aside from their mother but he passed a few months ago.
Although they will graduate at separate times, their family will be there to celebrate their achievement.