Alex Kurland, Staff Illustrator

For siblings, sharing school is part of growing up together. They are bound to have the same teachers, play on the same sports team, and compete with each other. For many students, these formative years of attending school with a sibling were either their greatest or their most miserable.

College, however, changes everything. For the first time, siblings can choose if they want to go to the same school. Attending college together can have its benefits: reduced tuition, automatic social connections, and even tips for picking the best classes. Yes, you might have that embarrassing encounter with them in the hallway or intentionally not sit with them in the dining hall, but those are just variables in the equation of familial relations. For a subset of students at the River Campus, having a sibling means that there is always someone with whom to talk, always a friend on which to lean, and always a valuable asset from whom to learn.

Joining an older sibling is the most common way siblings reconnect on campus.
For the Czekai sisters, senior Alina and sophomore Kara, being siblings on campus meant a stronger relationship.

“I was a little bit apprehensive, but then I realized we are actually best friends even though we used to fight a lot when we were little,” Kara said about her decision to join Alina at UR.
Alina confessed that having her younger sister join her at school would conflict with her own individuality and force her to succumb to the previously ubiquitous “Big Czekai” nicknames.
“I wanted her to come, but I still felt like this was my school,” Alina said. “It would take time to adjust.”

Both joke that ever since going to school together, their mom has been more inclined to buy them dinner.

“Hey, it’s in the name of sisterhood bonding,” a happy Kara said.

Freshman Sarah Levine finds her at-school relationship with big sister and senior Hannah Levine, to have “been a truly great experience.”

According to Sarah, Hannah has often acted “like a second mom.”

Sarah affectionately remembers her older sister bringing her food when she was sick and helping her ease into the new groove of college life.

For others, even the legacy of their already graduated siblings can have a lasting effect.
“I felt like I knew how my brother went through college, and I tried to decide whether I go down my path the way Tal did or find my own way,” explained sophomore Adam Cushmaro, whose brother, Tal, graduated from UR in 2010. While Tal may not have been around to help with homework or navigate the tunnels, Adam admitted that his older brother’s legacy has helped him socially.

“People joke around that if it wasn’t for my brother, I wouldn’t be in Greek life,” Cushmaro said. “He made it very easy for me to find a comfort zone because he was a good guy and everyone liked him.”

While some students follow siblings to UR after a few years, others enter college together as twins, continuing their often close relationship on campus.

For juniors Prishanya and Priyanka Pillai, separation isn’t necessary in order to succeed. They are both at UR, sharing the same microbiology major. While they did take different freshman roommates, they weren’t far from each other.

“We both wanted the roommate experience, so we lived on the same hall, but in different rooms for our freshman year. For our sophomore year we lived in the same building, but on different floors. For our junior year, we lived in Tiernan and Gilbert, adjacent buildings. [We’re taking] baby steps,” they said.

Hailing all the way from Alaska, they appreciate each other’s company as “travel buddies.”
Despite taking many of the same classes, they say that they never compete and are very open about their respective grades. Since the Pillais are following similar academic paths, they acknowledge they always “run into each other somewhere.”

Conversely, freshmen Zach Jenkins and his twin sister Hannah wanted to avoid being attached at the hip for their college experience — they chose different schools.

“We didn’t want to stay together,” Zach said. He and his sister agreed to go their separate ways for their college education, but maintain contact with one another.

“We talk weekly,” he said.

Generally, conflicting tastes in academics, school size, social scene, and location can decide whether attending school with your sibling is the right choice.

“My sister knew she wanted a big school, so I can’t blame her for not wanting to spend four years with me,” sophomore Jarvis D’Souza, whose sister attends the University of South Carolina, said. “I guess we just have different interests that the sibling relationship can’t overcome when it comes to college.”

Dodie Smith, author of “The Hundred and One Dalmatians,” once referred to family as “that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor in our innermost hearts never quite wish to.”

These tenacles may have different reaches for different siblings, but college is still a place where student siblings can grow their familial bonds and have a great time together.

Gilboard is a member of
the class of 2015.
Additional reporting
by Doug Brady.

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