"I was glad it was both of us," says Tyra Smith, 18.

By Helen Murphy
Courtesy of Lemi-Ola Erinkitola

Identical twins Tia and Tyra Smith graduated high school as co-valedictorians on Saturday, June 8, giving a combined speech to members of their graduating class at Lindblom Math and Science Academy in Chicago.

According to Good Morning Americathe 18-year-old sisters both graduated with 4.0 GPAs, having taken over 12 Advanced Placement classes each.

“I was glad it was both of us,” Tyra told GMA. “We really worked together in order to be where we were. It was the last thing we could do together in school before we have to leave each other.”

Part of the key to their success? Consistently attending teachers’ office hours, the sisters told GMA. 

Tyra said her favorite classes were biotechnology and problem-based learning math, while Tia loved AP U.S. history and human geography.

Aside from their high academic marks, Tia and Tyra also participated in numerous extracurriculars. They were involved in their school’s gallery club, and even started the school’s first black history art gallery. The sisters also created and presented a community awareness campaign for kidney disease at the STEM Challenge Showcase in Illinois.

The twins — who both love theater, screenwriting and crocheting — will nurture their interests at college in the fall, GMA reported.

Tyra will attend Northwestern University, while Tia heads off to Duke University. Both sisters will major in theater, while Tyra will double major in economics and Tia in statistics.

“Typically what we’ve seen is one valedictorian,” the sisters’ mom, Lemi-Ola Erinkitola, told GMA. “I was glad because they’re going to separate colleges and it put a nice, finishing touch on their years together academically.”

“It was very, very emotional and goes beyond just the title,” said Erinkitola, an educator who owns a tutoring and consulting practice, The Critical Thinking Child. “It was the fact they can share that platform together and a memory they can carry throughout their journeys in life.”

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