Talented Twins on Their Way to Top Universities
Graduates of NC College Earn Full Scholarships to Penn, Stanford
Twin brothers Paul Caroline and Peter Caroline began their higher education careers at Vance-Granville Community College in North Carolina. They soon will soon continue their educations at two of the nation’s top universities.
Both received full Quest- Bridge scholarships, Paul to the University of Pennsylvania and Peter to Stanford University.
The brothers have attended VGCC for the last five years through the Franklin County Early College High School program, allowing them to simultaneously complete high school diplomas and college degrees, tuition-free. Each graduated with both an associate in arts degree and an associate in science degrees.
Looking back on his experience, Paul said that his favorite classes at VGCC were his math, science and Spanish classes. “I enjoyed all of my science courses, because my instructors always related the information we discussed in class to applications in the real world,” he said.
“After each lab or lecture, I looked at certain parts of daily life in a new light and tried to think of ways to make connections with what I learned. I often found myself running home and excitedly telling my parents things that I learned in class, like the fact that you can boil water without heat, or that green beans are actually fruits!” Likewise, Peter most enjoyed science classes like chemistry and biology, along with American Lit erature.
“They’re all some of the most difficult courses I’ve taken, but I feel they’ve helped me the most to learn and improve academically and personally,” he said. “Plus, they were fun; the experiments were levels beyond what I’d do on the high school campus. Meanwhile, the discussions in English about literature, history, and life in general made me think deeper about situations and information.”
When they were high school sophomores, the brothers became aware of QuestBridge, a nonprofit organization that connects the nation's brightest students from low-income backgrounds with leading institutions of higher education. They each were invited to get involved in the program because of their strong academics.
“Here was this organization I had never heard of promising me free tuition to an Ivy League school,” Peter said. “Of course, I thought it was too good to be true or there was some catch.”
Both were accepted into the program. They received free essay coaching and tips about applying to colleges. QuestBridge allowed them to apply early to 38 prestigious universities for a chance to receive a full, four-year scholarship. Each participating student ranks up to 12 universities.
“If a school at the top of a student’s ranking list does not wish to award that student a scholarship, then the application would be sent to the next school on the list, and so on,” Paul explained. There was no guarantee that a student would be “matched” with a university on their list, he said. “There were over 14,000 applicants in the QuestBridge National College Match Program, and only about 700 received scholarships.”
Eventually, the long-awaited news came to both twins. “I remember I was on the VGCC campus when I found out,” Peter said. “In Franklin Campus Building 5, I was reading a book in the VNet room (where the most comfortable chairs are) and I got a text from Paul, saying: ‘I got into Penn :)’. So after that I rushed to the lab and checked my Quest- Bridge account and saw I got into Stanford. Both used the exact same three words to describe their feeling at the time: “I was ecstatic.”
While the brothers had been attracted to some of the same four-year schools, Penn was only on Paul’s list and Stanford only on Peter’s. Now, they will head off to universities on opposite ends of the country. “I think that these schools will be a perfect fit for each of us,” Paul said. He intends to study molecular and cell biology at the Ivy League university.
For his part, Peter has been “obsessed” with Stanford since his junior year. He plans to study biology and biomedical science in Palo Alto. “There are a lot of people, but it's greatly different from North Carolina,” he said. “I think I enjoy the sciences and cardiology so much because it offers real solutions to problems in the world…I would like to pursue a career in research and as a cardiovascular surgeon.”
High-achieving brothers might be expected to be quite competitive with one another. According to Paul, they are “competitive, although in a lighthearted sort of way.… We enjoy seeing each other’s achievements, which have always seemed to alternate from time to time. I think that this sort of supportive competitiveness has made us strive toward excellence. Instead of having a negative effect, it gives a sort of standard to maintain in all that we do.”
Both brothers say that their family has always instilled in them the value of education. “Since elementary school, my parents have not only encouraged me to do well in school, but they have also searched different areas in order to ensure the quality of the schools that my brother and I attended,” Paul noted. Similarly, Peter recalled that family mem bers encouraged them to be “leaders, not followers.”
The twins say that their community college experience has prepared them well for the next steps in their journeys. Both students have earned President’s List honors at VGCC, and Paul was VGCC’s recipient of the North Carolina Community College System’s Academic Excellence Award for 2017.
Said Evelyn Hall, VGCC’s college liaison for Franklin County Early College High School: “Peter and Paul Caroline are true scholars. These superseniors bring inquisitive minds and add thoughtful reflection to every class they complete. Their commitment to achievement extends beyond the classroom to service as well. Paul tutors VGCC students in a number of academic areas, and Peter serves as a mentor for our FCECHS students. Always seeking excellence as their singular ideal and aim, Paul and Peter also bring positive energy to all around them. It has been a joy to witness their growth, and I look forward to hearing about many successful endeavors and discoveries in their futures.”