Molly Madden | Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Notre Dame has a thing for twins.
The Class of 2013 currently has eight complete sets of twins in their year. When current junior Lillian Civantos was a freshman and learned that her class contained six sets of twins, the news came as a shock.
“I remember [University President] Fr. [John] Jenkins was addressing my freshmen class and said that our class had six complete sets,” Civantos said. “I just thought that was a lot.”
Civantos is an identical twin. She and her sister Tess, who both work for The Observer, were amazed to learn how many twins attended Notre Dame and believed that there had to be some way for all of the twins in the school to get together.
“I thought that it would be really great if there was a way for all of us to get to know each other,” Civantos said.
Civantos took her idea and formed the Twin Club of Notre Dame, which has been up and operating for about a year.
“The club is a way for different twins on campus to meet each other and talk to one another about what makes our lives special with being twins,” Civantos said. “Being a twin is not the same as not being a twin; you go through life differently. The Twin Club is a forum where we can rejoice in our twin pride.”
Civantos describes her very close relationship with her sister Tess as being her main motivation in trying to bring the various Notre Dame twins together as a group.
“Although all sets of twins are different, but I would say that nine times out of ten, your twin is your best friend,” Civantos said. “Tess is definitely my best friend.”
She said that while she is glad that she and Tess both ended up at Notre Dame, it was never an intentional act for them to go to the same university.
“We never wanted to pick a school based on where the other one was going,” Civantos said. “Notre Dame ended up being the best fit for both of us.”
Although Civantos and her twin are both pursuing degrees in the Program of Liberal Studies, having the same major as her twin is not typical for most, Civantos said.
“If two people go through life together, they end up liking the same things on a basic level,” she said. “We are different though; I would say Tess is more of the ‘rebel twin’ and I’d like to think that I have a calming effect on her although I’m sure she’d disagree.”
Junior twins Kennedy and Coleman Collins state that while they are twins, they each have their own personality.
“I don’t think that we’re totally different or totally similar,” Kennedy said. “We’re somewhere in the middle.”
Kennedy says that being an identical twin doesn’t affect his day-to-day existence other than the occasional confusion from friends.
“People confuse my brother and me all the time; it’s just part of being a twin,” he said.
Coleman, who works for The Observer photography department, says that the confusion partly has to do with location.
“Last year I lived on North Quad and he lived on South,” Coleman said. “So when I went on South Quad I’d get called Kennedy all the time.”
The Collins said they share more of a typical sibling relationship as opposed to a twin one.
“It’s a normal brother relationship than anything else,” Kennedy said. “It’s only different because we’re the same age.”
Coleman agrees that he and his brother are their own separate entities and that it gets tiresome being known as a twin before being known as an individual.
“To see a twin as only a twin is shortsighted,” he said. “People ask me all the time what it’s like being a twin. I turn around and ask them what it’s like not being a twin; I have no other frame of reference.”
Along with having different majors, Kennedy and Coleman have different places of residence in the coming months. Kennedy is leaving to study abroad in Rome in a few days while Coleman will remain on campus. It will be the farthest apart the brothers have ever been and for the longest period of time.
“He’s going and I’m not,” Coleman said. “I’m still not sure how I feel about it. We’ll see how it goes with us being apart; I’m excited but we’ll see.”
Sophomore identical twins Ellie and Catherine Russell have remained close to each other geographically even while on campus.
“I live in Cavanaugh and she lives in Breen-Phillips,” Ellie said. “It’s nice to be close.”
Catherine says that while she would love to be seen more as an individual and less as a twin, it is convenient for other people to identify her with her sister.
“A lot of people know us as ‘the twins,” Catherine said. “Sometimes it’s almost easier to be known as that but I would still like to be seen as my own self.”
Both girls say that they enjoy a very close relationship that is beneficial in their lives at Notre Dame.
“I’ve had my best friend living with me my whole life and I have her here at school,” Catherine said.
Ellie agrees that having her twin with her at college has its advantages.
“There are pros and cons to having your twin at school but it’s nice to have someone there,” Ellie said. “I know that I have someone I care about and that I can always turn to for advice.”