Tia and Tyra Smith are not just identical twins, they are also co-valedictorians of their graduating class at Lindblom Math and Science Academy in West Englewood, Illinois. The sisters achieved this remarkable feat by earning a perfect 4.0 GPA, even in their 12 Advanced Placement courses each. They also excelled in extracurricular activities, such as theater, screenwriting, crocheting, and art.
Their story and educational journey is one of hard work, dedication, and collaboration. The twins credit their success to frequently attending office hours and communicating with their teachers. They also helped each other with homework and studying. “We really worked together in order to be where we were,” Tyra Smith told Good Morning America. “It was the last thing we could do together in school before we have to leave each other.”
The sisters shared their wisdom and gratitude in a combined speech at their graduation ceremony on June 8, 2019. They thanked their parents, teachers, classmates, and God for their support and guidance. They also encouraged their peers to pursue their dreams and passions. “Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do,” Tia Smith said. “The only person that can stop you is you.”
Tia and Tyra Smith are among the few students who can claim the honor of being co-valedictorians with matching GPAs. According to a study by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, only 0.5% of high school seniors are named valedictorians, and the average GPA of valedictorians is 3.89. The fact that the twins achieved this distinction together is even more rare and impressive.
The sisters have also received recognition for their achievements outside of academics. They created and presented a community awareness campaign for kidney disease at the STEM Challenge Showcase in Illinois. They also started their school’s first-ever black history art gallery, titled “More Than 28.” Their mother, Lemi-Ola Erinkitola, who is an educator and a tutor, said she was proud of their accomplishments and their character. “It goes beyond just the title,” she told GMA. “It was the fact they can share that platform together and a memory they can carry throughout their journeys in life.”
Tia and Tyra Smith are not only co-valedictorians, they are also co-stars. The twins share a love for theater and screenwriting, and they will both major in theater in college. Tyra Smith will attend Northwestern University to study theater and economics, while Tia Smith will go to Duke University to study theater and statistics. They hope to pursue careers in the entertainment industry as writers, directors, or producers.
The twins said they will miss each other when they go to separate colleges, but they are excited for the new opportunities and challenges ahead. They also plan to keep in touch through video calls and visits. “We’re each other’s best friends,” Tyra Smith said.
Tia and Tyra Smith are an inspiration to students everywhere who aspire to achieve academic excellence and follow their passions. They have proven that with hard work, determination, and teamwork, anything is possible.
In 2013, history was made at Spelman College as identical twins Kirstie Foley and Kristie Brawley, better known as the Bronner Twins, were named co-valedictorians, each achieving a remarkable 4.0 GPA. Their academic prowess marked a significant milestone, making them the first twins in Spelman’s 132-year history to earn the prestigious title of co-valedictorians.
The Academic Journey
Born to a legacy of Spelman graduates, with their mother and grandmother both having walked the hallowed halls, the Bronner Twins initially saw themselves as continuing this family tradition. However, Kirstie’s desire for a more diverse educational experience led her to consider other options. It wasn’t until a National Society of High School Scholars campus tour of Spelman during their senior year that the twins were captivated by the institution’s mission of “a choice to change the world.”
Kirstie reflected on the pivotal moment, stating, “The experience of being here and hearing that Spelman emphasized leadership, community service, legacy, and changing the world was an affirmation because those things had been instilled in us throughout our lives.It clicked with who I was and made me realize this was a place I needed to be.”
The sisters rounded out their academic career by studying music abroad in Milan, Italy, as part of the Institute for the International Education of Students. They joined the Spelman College Glee Club, where their musical talents flourished, earning them leadership positions within the group by their senior year. Read more about this amazing twins Kirstie and Kristie here.