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Families in college together: Twin sisters who share home, combs, and chromosomes

Submitted by KenDrell Collins on April 16, 2014 – 1:38 pmOne Comment
Dolapo and Bukola Odeniyi (left to right) examine the cell cultures for their senior research projects.













Imagine leaving home at the age of eight to live on another continent.  Separated from family, friends and life as you know it by an ocean, your world changes. Such was the case for identical twins Bukola and Dolapo Odeniyi, when they boarded the plane in Nigeria. A new life awaited them at their destination 7,856 miles away in Los Angeles, Calif.

The sisters, only children at the time, are now young ladies preparing to march across the stage to receive their Bachelor degrees in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

They lived in Los Angeles for three years before coming to Arkansas. Fortunately, English is one of Nigeria’s national languages.

“I was in seventh grade, ” Dolapo Odeniyi said. “The accents are different, but I was still able to understand. People spoke very fast. Some of the spellings were different because we used British English.

Adjusting to accents, however, was not the only hurdle the twins had to leap over during elementary school.

“We didn’t have a lot of friends because we’re Africans or we’re different,” Dolapo Odeniyi said. “There are different stereotypes about Africans. So we weren’t exactly the cool people.”

“We were fortunate to be twins. We always had each other to look forward to during lunchtime or recess.”

When the Odeniyi family moved to Arkansas, the twins said they were able to take most of their classes together. Still, the transition wasn’t easy. According to Dolapo Odeniyi, it was the first time many of their classmates had even seen Africans.

“It was hard. The population of Africans in Arkansas or in Little rock is not that big.”

The sisters are not just sisters but best friends. They learned to crochet together, do hair together, and even change the oil in a car together. It is difficult not to become friends when you are as close as the Odeniyi twins.

“The two of us were kind of forced to be very close because we had to share almost everything. Share a room, share a bed, share clothes, share shoes,” Bukola Odeniyi said. “They tried to make us share a blanket,” her sister added.

Despite being forced to share virtually everything, their personalities could not be more opposite.

Bukola Odeniyi plays keyboard.  Dolapo Odeniyi likes to draw. One loves to cook, the other likes to eat.  Like opposite sides of the color wheel, the two seem to compliment one another.

“A lot of people generally say I’m the more outgoing one and more friendly one,” Dolapo Odeniyi said. “Whereas my sister might seem more reserved at times, more serious. But I think that is changing and I’m becoming more reserved and she’s becoming more outgoing.”

“We’re a balance for each other,” she said.

“If she went to a university alone, and I wasn’t there, there would be no one there to distress her,” Bukola Odeniyi explained. “If I went to a university alone, and she wasn’t there, there would be no one to cause me stress and get work done. So it’s just like a nice balance.  She doesn’t lose her mind, and I get my work done. And we both succeed.”

As Donaghey Scholars and double majors, twins attribute their achievement to their mutual support for each other. The two have taken all of their classes together during college, with the exception of statistics.

“If one of us made an 85, we sit down and figure out how are we going to get that other person above an 85.”

The sisters tried living apart during their sophomore year as Resident Assistants, one at West Hall and the other at East Hall. Soon enough, they realized how interdependent they had become.

“That was stressful because that balance wasn’t there,” Dolapo Odeniyi said. “We weren’t able to see each other at night or wake each other up. The first couple of weeks I had overslept.  We weren’t always with each other at night to study.”

“That year our grades weren’t as good as they normally are. It makes a big difference, at least for the studying part.” The twins now live together again in an on-campus apartment.

“What were the advantages of being apart?” Dolapo Odeniyi asked her sister.

“Of being apart? Nothing,” she said.

They do have to deal with annoyance of people getting them confused when they are together.

“When our teachers are passing out our papers, we’re sitting next to each other,” Dolapo Odeniyi  said. “They pause for like 30 seconds. They try to guess it. Sometimes they’re right; it’s 50-50. Sometimes they’re not. It’s fun.”

Dating the twins can also be a difficulty, at least from the guy’s point of view.

“Our voices are similar,” Bukola Odeniyi said. “I was taking to Dolapo’s current boyfriend and he just carried on the conversation like I was her. So about 10 minutes later I was like,  ‘Um, yeah, so she’s not around. Do you want me to deliver all that to her?’”

They mentioned that the only person who seems to be able to recognize their voices over the phone is their older brother. Even their parents get them mixed up.

“Currently, my dad has my (Bukola) picture as her (Dolapo) ID on his phone,” Bukola said.

The twins will spend the next seven years together in medical school.  The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences recently sent letters to the sisters notifying them of their acceptance into its combined M.D. and Ph.D program.

“Our desire in the medicine aspect is to work in underserved communities. We hope to be physician-scientists, meaning that we’ll have hands on experience with the patients, but we will also be in the lab doing research,” Bukola Odeniyi explained. The term for the field is translational medicine. Doctors are able to both work with their patients and then go to the laboratory to find solutions to their problems.

Eventually, the sisters would like to return to their homeland–a place they have not seen in nearly 13 years.  Nigeria is still in their hearts though. Indeed it is their desire to improve the health care in Africa and other developing nations that drives their academic decisions.

“We’re working towards our ultimate goal and wherever we go, we’re going to have to achieve this goal.”

One Comment »

  • Jams Christopher Oden says:


    As a student in UALR, I can write about my experiences in foreign national medical care organizations, that is far ahead might I say of our own.

    I had intially visited a medical facility for a workplace bi-annual physical. My doctor a Physician, had drawn blood, to prove the type, weighed me in, at a today is 183 pounds. In the physical, it also takes blood pressure, heart rate, and height. The physician, had asked a few questions, as normal, I stated I had twins in the family, and he showed it reflected in the DNA tests he did.
    After transferring to another medical facility, of course, the physician, sent records of my care, his name, and field of expertise.

    Review of the records was completed, and I became enrolled in an early retirement program after being diagnosed as bi-polar, of which I declined. Not knowing the doctor was referencing to the medical terminology bi-polar s referencing the two sets of polar twins in my families peer generation. A medical term, one requiring inpatient / outpatient care programs, ans sometimes a forced medication regimen, and another referencing 2 sets of polar twins. We looked and looked for a translation of the doctors records in the file, however none were aware, he was a graduate of a Medical in Oslo, Norway, as a physician, a totally different branch of medical care, than psychiatry and psycology.

    I had dropped in weight to 142 (LBS)Pounds, after the inpatient prescription regimen program was completed, and was wondering why I was so tired all the time. Possible side effects to the prescriptions?

    A doctor background check was completed to prove the matters, on the National Doctor Registry, in which his name never appeared on the psychiatry, or psycology field of medicine, nor able to prescribe the prescription assortment that may sometime shave side effects, and risks to patients, especially those that do not need its purpose. The Judicial side of the treatment program was shocked to discover a large array of prescription in inpatient and outpatient care programs “paid in full” that were a part of the dual term medical definition bi-polar in this reports official documented records. The dual term for bi-polar as two sets of polar twins, on a physical might be advanced, but far from the suspected bi-polar, which the prescription costs late, and real late as a deposit, re-imburstment or even court cashiers check were needed attached interest on a monthly basis, from the health care practitioners of the prior facilities presenting the diagnosis.

    The oldest of polar twins is a resident of Arkansas, of whom’s name I will not note, the twin brother of the fathers peer generation.

    A DNA blood draw can prove twin DNA, polar twin DNA, but having two sets of polar twins has been misunderstood no doubt after a medical review.

    One of the polar twin family members had passed away in 2010. However, the doctors bi-annual physical sheet remained unpresented at a legal proceeding, referencing the matters of mistaken bi-polar mental illness, with the bi-polar reference of two sets of polar twins. The doctors other medical practices included reproductive health, marriage counseling, and physical screenings. Midwife services were also a part of the doctors field of counsel, including pregnancy, and prenatal.

    Not a psycological field in any instance according to the background check, which in some searches had dozens of referrals to what type of medical practice he was a part of. Never did the offices of his purchase or prescribe the barrage of medications, and prescriptions in the bi-polar psychiatry field the entire 3 years as a medical care provider noting bi-polar, until the record was transferred to another medical facility where it was highly likely mistranslated and misunderstood for something quite more tranquilizing. An IRS agent had to be brought in to correct the matters that had taken place to see how far in debt the malpractitioner(s) had gone. And who was really to blame.

    A medical record translated at UALR 2005. Yet the medical attorneys to this day are fighting over a piece of correcting in a Correction of Records hearing, sponsored by our Federal Government. Of which is a policy after 5 years service, the medical records of all be reviewed once every 5 years as policy guideline.

    It has not been easy to keep the standard practitioner or their legal attorney’s honest, much less loyal.

    I accepted my Military Representatives and Officials offer for the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, to add to the commendations, I had earned as a part of service foreign and domestically, in 2010. They were awarded and offered for reward in 1998 November, Washington D.C., but the translated record lying in wait was never completed until UALR Student Enrollment, to which they lie on top of those medals in the Courts Martial Proceeding for positive achievement and being inured while serving our nation.