They were born 10 minutes apart, and they graduated from Brock University seconds apart Friday.
Rina Yousif and her twin sister Rita graduated side-by-side with Bachelor of Arts degrees in sociology during the University’s Fall Convocation ceremony.
For the 22-year-old siblings, walking across the convocation stage was the end of one chapter, but just the next step in their journey together.
“Ever since we were little, we were always close. In kindergarten they had to separate us because we were only talking to each other and not making new friends,” said Rita, the ‘younger’ of the two.
Born in Iraq, the twins came to Canada with their family as toddlers.
“In high school we didn’t really have the same classes so we thought it would be fun to go to university together,” Rita said. “Going to university was kind of scary, so taking all the same classes together, it was nice to have someone there.”
The twins lived together during their four years at Brock and took most of the same classes at the same time. They intentionally tried to avoid working on assignments or studying together, but that didn’t stop them from regularly getting marks within a few percentage points of each other.
“In second year we had a written, formal exam — all long answer with no multiple choice — but we ended up getting the exact same mark,” Rina said, pointing out that it happened again on a fourth-year assignment.
As life got busier with jobs and boyfriends, they didn’t spend as much time together in the final two years of university, but they were happy to graduate together Friday.
“It means a lot,” Rina said. “It’s nice to always have a friendly face, especially with something as important as convocation. We’ve done a lot of the important things in life together.”
It was a big day for the whole Yousif family as the twins’ parents and younger siblings were also on hand.
“We’re the first in our family to graduate university, so it’s a big moment,” Rita said. “We grew up here, but they didn’t, so they didn’t have this opportunity.”
The pair’s father, Laith Yousif, said it was clear from very early on that they were bright girls.
“They were on the honour roll all the way through elementary school,” he said. “We saw something special in them so we supported them and pushed them to do good things.”
For Rita and Rina, post-secondary education won’t end at Brock.
They’ve now started applying for law school together and are, once again, hoping to land at the same university.
“We made a deal — if one of us gets in and the other doesn’t, we’re not going to hold the other one back because it’s not fair,” Rita said. “But we want to get in together because law school is even scarier.”