STUDENTS | June 11, 2019
Graduating twin sisters, Nannette and Naomi Beckley, both Gates Scholars, have lived together their entire lives, but come this fall, the Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy High School seniors will have some distance between them.
Thanks to the prestigious full-tuition scholarship, Nannette will attend Princeton University in New Jersey and Naomi will be a little more than three hours away at Yale University in Connecticut.
“I’m not always going to be with my sister so I’m like, ‘Why don’t I start now in college, becoming known as just Naomi and not the ‘twin,” said 18-year-old Naomi, who is undecided on a major, but said she wants to either pursue a career in law or public policy.
Her sister Nannette said she’s planning on majoring in International Relations, with the hopes of working for the United Nations or the World Health Organization.
THE HIGH SCHOOL EXPERIENCE
The sisters, who live in the Pullman neighborhood, said their time at Brooks has fully prepared them for their next chapter in life. Between honors and advanced placement classes, as well as the close relationships they’ve formed with teachers and counselors, the Beckley twins said they’re ready to embark on this journey.
“I can go to my teachers for tutoring or talk to them about anything going on at school or outside,” said Nannette. “Because of the skills I’ve built at Brooks, I’m comfortable to go talk to my professor if I need help. I won’t be scared.”
“There’s a lot of support here to do well,” Naomi added.
[Nannette, L, and Naomi, R]
High achievement has always come natural for the twin sisters and it has been encouraged at home since they were little girls.
“We have Sierra Leonean parents and that culture puts emphasis on education,” said Nannette, who added that she never felt like her parents “forced” education or programs on them.
Naomi said their motivation comes from within.
“We always had that drive and wanted to do well,” she said.
Both have participated in educational summer programs and are active in extracurricular activities. For example, Nannette and Naomi are on the math team and serve as student ambassadors.
Nannette has participated in academic programs such as the University of Chicago STEM Initiative and Chicago Scholars. Naomi has also been involved in Chicago Scholars and Collegiate Scholars. Both were recently named an AP Scholar with Distinction and an Illinois State Scholar.
Nannette chose Princeton as her top choice, although she was accepted into several other prestigious universities such as the University of Chicago, Emory, and Johns Hopkins.
“I’ve always been at predominately black and hispanic schools or have been around people with the same background and mindset,” said Nannette, who noticed Princeton’s diversity on all levels from her campus visits.
“I always knew that whatever college I went to, I would want to be around people from across the world, not just America. I want to meet people with different beliefs and opinions because as I develop into an adult, I want global perspectives.”
Like her sister, Naomi also had a wide range of options, having been accepted into institutions like the University of Chicago, Northwestern and Vanderbilt, before choosing Yale.
After serious thinking, she decided on Yale for their research program, an area she’s already been exposed to in high school.
“The professors are in the top of their field and doing groundbreaking work,” said Naomi. “It’s been an interesting experience in high school school, but in college I’m looking forward to doing more research in humanities base fields like social sciences.”
They both shared what about college they’re most excited to experience.
“I’m really excited to participate in both study abroad and research opportunities at Princeton,” said Nannette. “I know this will give me global experiences.”
The sisters said they’re excited and more than ready to graduate. Reflecting over the last four years of high school, they have learned lessons and have advice for incoming freshmen.
“Do the homework and be open to meeting other people, including teachers,” said Nannette. “A lot of people come in and want to stay with their group, but you shouldn’t want to. Be open.”
“My biggest piece of advice for incoming freshmen is to explore your passion, and don’t be afraid to take the opportunities to learn more about what you’re interested in,” said Naomi.