Seeing double at Tusculum University? That is not surprising because the higher education institution has six sets of twins

GREENEVILLE – If you see double at Tusculum University, nothing is wrong with your eyes.

Reginald Hunter, left, and Richard Hunter stand in front of the Meen Center.

Reginald Hunter, left, and Richard Hunter stand in front of the Meen Center.

Instead, you are seeing one of six known sets of twins who are enrolled at the university. It is easier to notice the differences in two sets of the twins, but it will take you longer to see them in the other four sets. The similarities are acute with three of them. Only one set has different genders.

“It is a lot of fun and special to have this many sets of twins on our campus, especially when you consider we are a smaller university,” said Chuck Sutton, associate vice president of student affairs. “We are pleased both members of each set have chosen to enroll at Tusculum. The similarities so many of them have is a great conversation-starter when you meet them. Even more importantly, they are wonderful students, and we are thrilled they are Tusculum family members.”

The twins are:

  • Morgan and Olivia Browne, graduate students from Vernon, British Columbia, both pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree
  • Reginald and Richard Hunter, sophomores from Chattanooga, seeking bachelor’s degrees in business administration and entrepreneurship, respectively
  • Paulina and Valentina Loretz, seniors from San Mateo Atenco, Mexico, seeking bachelor’s degrees in marketing and political science, respectively
  • Raija and Roger Mottley, juniors from Fort Myers, Florida, pursuing degrees in communication and sport management, respectively
  • Adrian and Andrae Robinson, seniors from Covington, Georgia, pursuing bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sport management, respectively
  • Allison and Madison Silvers, sophomores from Limestone, seeking bachelor’s degrees in interdisciplinary studies K-5 and English education 6-12, respectively.

The Robinsons are graduating Saturday, May 4. The Brownes are walking the stage in the May 4 ceremony but will complete their coursework in August. The Loretzes will graduate in December. But the ranks will still be high even after the senior and graduate students leave because at least one new set is enrolling in the fall.

These are not the first sets of twins Tusculum has been fortunate to have among its student body. Others in recent years were Annie and Caitlin McCullough, who earned their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Tusculum, and Jacob and Gabby Rambo earned their bachelor’s degrees together.

Here is a look at the current crop of twins:

The Brownes

Identical twins Olivia Browne, left, and Morgan Browne stand in The Wellness Center at Tusculum University.

Identical twins Olivia Browne, left, and Morgan Browne stand in The Wellness Center at Tusculum University.

Morgan and Olivia are the only twins within the group that are identical. Olivia is the older of the two. They were partners on the women’s beach volleyball team until this year’s season concluded, and they lived together on campus.

The sisters say people have difficulty determining who each one is – at least initially.

“This especially the case in the beginning,” Morgan said. “People cannot tell for the life of them for a while, but then once they get to know us, it’s almost like they tell us, ‘I don’t know how I could never tell you apart before.’ They think we are completely different, which is so funny, but I think that has a lot to do with mannerisms and personalities and the way we speak. Even sometimes people who know us really well can tell us from behind – or at least they say they can.”

“If people never make the effort to get to know us better, they can know us for years and years and never recognize difference,” Olivia said. “We went to a private, very small school from elementary school through high school, and there were people in my class who I had known for 10 years who still didn’t know who I was. I said, ‘Are you actually serious?’”

What are the differences? Olivia has a couple of birthmarks and her face is rounder, and the pair have different smiles. Morgan is slightly taller, has straighter posture and is more emotional and sensitive. The similarities include being talkative, extroverted and exhibiting the same types of humor.

The two decided late where they would attend college and that they would play sports while they were enrolled.

“Once we decided to play beach volleyball, I knew we were going to be together because we’re a team and I wanted to play with her in college,” Morgan said. “That’s been such a blessing because I’m so glad that I went through college with my sister. I think it made the experience way better and fun.”

Olivia agreed.

“It’s your best friend,” she said. “Who doesn’t want to be with your best friend?”

The Brownes also earned bachelor’s degrees at Tusculum, with Morgan’s coming in biology and Olivia’s in business administration with a major in accounting.

The Hunters

Reginald Hunter, left, and Richard Hunter study in the Center for Academic Success and Tutoring.

Reginald Hunter, left, and Richard Hunter study in the Center for Academic Success and Tutoring.

In addition to their personal connections, the Hunters play together on the football team, Richard as a quarterback and Reginald as a tight end. They live together on campus and are in sync with each other, agreeing with whatever the other says during an interview. Richard one-upped Reginald to be the older of the two.

These fraternal twins have a good number of differences. Richard looks like their father, and Reginald favors their mother. They have different face shapes, noses, eyebrows and cheek formations. Richard tends to wear his hair up, while Reginald lets his fall down. They also have different personalities, with Reginald enjoying the outdoors and going out with friends, while Richard is more of a homebody. Richard likes to read and play video games, while Reginald is into basketball and other sports and visiting stores.

“Sometimes there’s confusion by people about the two of us,” Reginald said. “But most of the time, people who have been around us for a while can tell the differences between us. Someone we haven’t seen or met before will ask us whether we are twins.”

Richard said he likes having family member with the same date of birth.

“I feel like it is special because I have someone that I’m always with,” he said. “Whenever we go to a new place, I don’t have to worry about meeting new people or not talking to someone because we are mainly always together. I see him every day.”

Reginald said it was important for him to go to college with Richard because it was the next step in their lives and he did not want them to be separated. Richard said their mother wanted them to look out for each other and felt better they were together at college.

The Loretz sisters

Valentina Loretz, left, and Paulina Loretz stand in front of the Tusculum Arch.

Valentina Loretz, left, and Paulina Loretz stand in front of the Tusculum Arch.

Paulina has the distinction of being the older the two sisters. Their connection runs deeper, as they played on the women’s tennis team at Tusculum until their careers ended this spring. People that do not know them well have difficulty seeing the differences, but close friends and professors can see the variations.

Among the distinctive elements are their hair color, face shapes and freckles on Paulina‘s face. People say that Paulina is more relaxed, calm and laid back, while Valentina shows more emotions and is more sensitive.

“We like a lot of the same people and gravitate toward the same people, but at the same time, everyone says our personalities are different,” Paulina said.

The primary reason they came to Tusculum was to play tennis, but Paulina said she was also attracted to the business degree and Tusculum being a smaller degree.

“We were OK with separating for college, but then when it came to making our decision, we both wanted to go here and we felt like we made the right decision coming together,” Paulina said.

“I think it was a huge bonus that we both got offered scholarships here and we both liked it,” Valentina said. “We’re very similar, so we enjoyed coming to the same place.”

As international students who were not familiar with East Tennessee, Paulina said it has been easier and extremely helpful to make the transition with her twin sister. Valentina shares that view, saying the two had never been apart in their lifetime, so not having each other would have been more challenging considering how far they are away from home.

“Coming together made it so much easier,” Valentina said. “We didn’t have to face meeting people instantly. We had each other, and then with that, it was easier to make friendships.”

The Mottleys

Roger Mottley, left, and Raija Mottley stand in the living room of the Scott M. Niswonger Commons.

Roger Mottley, left, and Raija Mottley stand in the living room of the Scott M. Niswonger Commons.

Without a doubt, the Mottleys have the most obvious differences. The biggest, of course, is that Raija is a female and Roger is a male. She is more emotional and outspoken, and he is more nonchalant. They also did not come to Tusculum at the same time, with Raija joining her brother later. Most people do not know they are twins, but once they learn, the reaction is surprise, said Raija, who is the older of the two.

“I tell people, and they think I’m lying,” Roger said.

So what are the similarities between the two? They include the way they think, their eyebrows and their eyes. In addition, they will pose in photos and act in the same manner, especially with their facial expressions.

Raija said it was weird when she and Roger spent the early part of their college years at different colleges.

“Usually, my brother and I do everything together, so I was by myself and had to figure out the ropes by myself and make friends by myself,” Raija said. “It was different. Normally, I had my brother and would never be too bored.”

But they agreed the separation was good in the long run because they had time to learn more about their own self and have different experiences. It also helped them to understand each better because along with the love they have for each other, they also say they can also butt heads. Roger said the time they lived in separate states was also beneficial because eventually, they will not be together as much as their lives progress.

But when their time away from each other ended and Raija came to Tusculum, they resumed the bond as if no time had elapsed. They emerged from their time away as older and wiser.

“Back then, if we were away from each other for more than a couple of hours, it would probably feel weird,” Roger said. “But now we can do it, and we’re OK.”

The Robinsons

Andrae Robinson, left, and Adrian Robinson stand in front of the Thomas J. Garland Library.

Andrae Robinson, left, and Adrian Robinson stand in front of the Thomas J. Garland Library.

Even though he is second in the alphabet, Andrae is the older of the two. Many people struggle to tell the differences between these fraternal twins, and it probably did not help both of them played defensive back for the football team and their jersey numbers were just one apart.

“It happens all of the time,” Adrian said. “Even with coaches from the staff, they’ll just say a name and hope it finds whoever. They’ll try to start with a name so that they can get the attention of who they are referring to, but they will just pretend that they know the difference.”

Andrae understands what his brother is saying.

“Adrian has been featured in more things in the community and around the school,” Andrae said. “A lot of times when I’m out, people will say, ‘Hey, Adrian.’ I’ll look at them and I’ll want to correct them, but then I conclude it’s a little too complicated, so I just go with it most of the time.”

The Robinsons have different hairstyles and head shapes. Their mother believes they change personality traits after awhile, such as one is more laid-back than the other for a while before switching. They emphasize different things academically, such as Adrian’s focus on research, because they have different majors. Their similarities are enjoyment of the same types of music, video games and television shows.

Andrae said it was intentional for him and Adrian to go to college together.

“We both had offers to go other places separately, but wanting to stay together was a big part of us accepting the scholarship to come here,” Andrae said. “Our family is really big on being tight-knit and having structure, so I believe we function better when we are in the same environment. It’s not that we can’t function when we’re apart, but with the challenges in the middle of COVID, playing football and the academic challenges, it was probably best for us to stay together so that we can motivate and push each other to succeed.”

Adrian had similar thoughts.

“To piggyback off what he said, we feed off each other’s energy a lot of the times and play that push-and-pull game,” Adrian said. “If he does something great, I want to be right behind him because I want my name called in the same way. It helps us grow and challenge each other to do things that we might not have done things had we been apart from each other.”

The Silvers siblings

Allison Silvers, left, and Madison Silvers study in the Scott M. Niswonger Commons.

Allison Silvers, left, and Madison Silvers study in the Scott M. Niswonger Commons.

Even though they are twins, it is not too hard to distinguish between the Silvers sisters. Allison has blond hair, and Madison’s is darker. Also significant is the fact that Madison is four inches shorter, but she has the bragging rights of being older.

Perhaps because of those major differences, they have not encountered as much confusion as the other twins have. Some people will mix up their names because they are similar or combine them into a new name such as Mallison. For some people, the challenge of distinguishing them was more problematic when they were babies, but that changed as they aged and developed contrasts.

Unlike the other twins at Tusculum, they are commuters instead of living on campus, but they have been members of the cheer team with their older sister, Jessica. Togetherness has been a recurring theme for the sisters, including classes, choir, playing basketball and volleyball and serving as cheerleaders. The difference was Allison participated in track, theater and band. They have had several of the same classes.

A big factor in both of them choosing Tusculum was becoming part of the cheer team.

“We were on the same cheer time in high school,” Madison said. “Jessica was also on that cheer team, and then she got recruited to Tusculum by head coach Trea King. Coach Trea started looking at us because Jessica told her about us. Both of us wanted to cheer. We determined it was something we can do together, and we can do it because they don’t require certain things that would knock us out at other schools.”

Allison said twins have a memorable connection.

“It’s a very special bond,” she said. “A lot of people don’t quite understand it. Some people will think it is OK to come up to me and talk about Madison. But my feeling is that is my best friend in the world. It’s a bond only we get and our parents get because they raised us. You get to share birthdays.”

Madison said it is nice to go to college with Allison.

“You just always have your best friend to go through everything with,” Madison said. “You’re never lonely. I feel like if I didn’t have a twin, I would be very lonely.”

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