Shonda and Shalisha Witherspoon are not only identical twins, but also outstanding engineers and software developers who have achieved remarkable success in their academic and professional careers. They graduated from Florida International University (FIU) in 2016 with bachelor’s degrees in information technology, having the highest GPAs of 3.95 in the College of Engineering and Computing . They continued their studies at FIU and obtained their master’s degrees in 2018 . They are now working as software engineers at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center in New York, where they focus on distributed artificial intelligence and machine learning projects .
The Witherspoons are first-generation college students who grew up in a family of six children in Miami. They discovered their passion for technology through their oldest brother, who taught them how to use computers and video games . Despite the challenges of being minority women in STEM fields, they persevered and excelled in their studies and research. They credit FIU for providing them with the education and opportunities that led them to their current positions .
One of the turning points for the twins was working as research assistants at FIU’s High Performance Database Research Center (HPDRC), under the mentorship of Professor Naphtali Rishe. There, they learned how to use databases in a research setting, working on TerraFly.com, a high-resolution geo-database website . Their work at HPDRC also prepared them for the research environment at IBM, where they interned as undergraduates and won first place in an IBM hackathon as part of an all-female team.
The Witherspoons are not only talented in engineering and technology, but also in languages and cultures. They minored in Japanese language and literature at FIU and participated in a summer study abroad program at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan . They dream of working in Japan one day as software engineers, creating games or mobile apps .
The Witherspoons are also active on campus and in the community, where they serve as role models and advocates for other young minority women who aspire to pursue STEM careers. They are members of several honor societies and clubs, and they have spoken at various events about their study abroad experience and their achievements in engineering and technology .
The Witherspoons have received numerous awards and recognitions for their excellence and promise as engineers, including the Most Promising Engineer award from the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) in 2022 . They are also featured on the cover of FIU Magazine in 2016 and on several media outlets such as The Miami Herald and The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education .
Shonda and Shalisha Witherspoon are twin sisters who have broken barriers and created a path for women in tech. They are an inspiration to many people who share their passion for engineering and technology. They deserve to be celebrated for their achievements and contributions to the field.
Keyara and Teyara Watson-Love are also fraternal twins from the Fifth Ward area of Houston, Texas, who have achieved a remarkable feat in their academic journey. They recently graduated from Lamar University with Master’s degrees in Speech-Language Pathology, a profession where there is only about 3 percent African American women.
The 24-year-old sisters credit their parents, Michael and Sarah, for their success because they always wanted and encouraged their children to get an education. As teenagers, Keyara and Teyara graduated from E.L. Furr High School with the highest honors and were in the top 10 percent of their graduating class. They went on to attend Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas where they received their Bachelors of Science Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders of Oral Health with Summa Cum Laude and Magna Cum Laude honors.
Keyara and Teyara were very big on being involved in extracurricular activities. They were a part of many different organizations such as CAID and SOCS which are geared toward speech and hearing sciences. When asked why they chose to major in Speech-Language Pathology, the twins say they decided to go into this profession because they are very big on helping others and serving their communities, and they find communication difficulties interesting. Continue reading about Keyara and Teyara educational exploits here.