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Three’s a charm for sisters in Elon's Class of 2013

When Staci, Kristi and Suzanne Scott receive their degrees on May 25, they will be the first triplets to ever graduate from Elon University in the same class year.

Staci, Kristi and Suzanne Scott plan to return to their home in the Cayman Islands following their graduation from Elon University on May 25, 2013. (Photo courtesy of Tracey Patterson of TraceyCarol Photography)

They were together in the womb. They were together as children. They attended Elon University together. And when they depart campus this week, diplomas in hand, they plan to return home together to begin their professional careers.

Staci, Kristi and Suzanne Scott will make history on May 25, 2013, by walking across the Commencement stage Under the Oaks to shake hands with Elon President Leo M. Lambert. The trio from the Cayman Islands are set to be the first triplets to receive degrees from the university in the same class year since the school was founded in 1889.

“It’s not something we’ve even thought about,” Staci said of the distinction. “It’s definitely cool and it’s nice to know in some small way we’re making history at Elon, but we would have been happy to go here whether we were the first or 30th (set of triplets).”

Staci and Suzanne—the “oldest” and “youngest," respectively—both majored in accounting, while Kristi, the “middle child,” studied elementary education. All three were active in the Baptist Student Union, and Staci and Suzanne are members of Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting honor society.

Staci and Suzanne have enjoyed accounting since a high school course introduced them to the subject. Staci will begin her career at the Caymanian office of the international accounting firm KPMG. Suzanne accepted a job offer with PricewaterhouseCoopers, another of the "Big Four" firms. Though working for different firms, they're sharing an apartment in the islands' capital city of George Town.

Kristi fell in love with education during her post-high school internship and was also close to her aunt, a lifelong educator. Her teaching position is being finalized at the same elementary school she and her sisters once attended.

Finding Elon

The Caymans are a collection of three islands in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba and  west of Jamaica. The sisters hail from Cayman Brac, the easternmost island with 2,500 residents, a population a little less than half of the size of Elon University’s undergraduate enrollment.

They finished high school at 16 and took a year off before starting college. Each worked during that period: Staci for the islands’ Treasury department, Suzanne as a high school teacher’s aide and Kristi as an aide at the island's elementary school.

Moving to Elon was a small culture shock. At home, the sisters needed to fly from Cayman Brac to Grand Cayman to visit a movie theater or mall or bowling alley. At college, such venues were but minutes away by car.

From left: Suzanne, Kristi and Staci Scott, members of the Class of 2013 and the first triplets in Elon University history to graduate at the same time, lived in the Station at Mill Point during their senior year. "People say they can't tell them apart, but they're definitely unique," said their roommate, senior Alyssa Iacono.

Elon was a natural fit when applying to college four years ago and the warmth shown by admissions staff sealed their commitment to the university. In November 2008, Hurricane Paloma devastated the Cayman Islands, cutting power to Cayman Brac for more than a month at the height of the college application season. The Scott sisters said Elon was the most understanding and accommodating when the girls contacted the Office of Admissions with their predicament.

Staci is the self-described “conscience” of the closeknit siblings, a counterbalance to a very relaxed and spontaneous Kristi. Suzanne is the stickler for tidiness. Suzanne and Kristi roomed together their first year and the trio has lived together in the same quarters every year since, most recently in the Station at Mill Point with a fourth roommate and self-described adoptive sister.

“People say they can't tell them apart, but they’re definitely unique,” said senior Alyssa Iacono, an international studies major from Boston. “Staci is very much the fashionista of the group. Suzanne is the ‘mother,’ which I give her a hard time about sometimes. Kristi is sassy, and I always tell her she’s my ally in the apartment.”

Highly regarded students

Faculty who know them well are impressed them with the sisters' desire to excel in the classroom and the high marks earned on assignments.

“I enjoyed having them in class and having them as accounting majors. Both are very bright and very studious,” Associate Professor Linda Poulson, chair of the Department of Accounting, said of Staci and Suzanne. “They weren’t worried about their grades, per se. They were worried about doing their best in class, which was very pleasant. When a student cares only about the grade, the learning process gets lost, and life isn’t always about grades. The grade is a data point. It might get you in the door, but it won’t keep you in the door.”

One of Kristi’s professors in the School of Education made a similar observation.

“Kristi has been a joy to teach,” Associate Professor Jean Rattigan-Rohr said. “She came to my class with many questions and some trepidation about how she was going to be able to reach and teach struggling readers and how what she learned here would effectively translate to her practice at home in the Cayman Islands.

“Since we are both from the Caribbean, and having grown up under the British education system, we were able to talk a great deal about practices and similarities and importance of good instruction wherever one finds oneself. Over time, as she immersed herself in the work and research practices those anxieties gave way to great confidence.”

The longest the women have lived apart, oddly enough, was during their Elon studies. The three sisters separated over the winter of their junior years for unique Study Abroad programs. Kristi visited Italy, Staci headed for Greece, and Suzanne traveled to Ireland. The experience taught the three that they can easily live apart. It's simply not their preference.

The Scotts adore Elon and in their waning days on campus say they’re not scrambling to go home, but the Caymans are what they’ve always known and have come to miss. They took for granted certain features of life in the islands, from the views of the sea to the family relationships with their cousins.

“I love Elon, I really do, but it is so weird not being near the ocean. We’re beach snobs,” Suzanne says with a laugh. “It’s terrible! And if I cannot see what my feet are touching in the water, that’s a problem.”

“Being at Elon made me appreciate so many things I love about home that I was no longer seeing every day,” Kristi adds.

The women jokingly insist they make no apologies for being direct with each other, even arguing at times as all siblings do, nor for interrupting each other. They make no apologies, they say, because they’re just as quick to tell each other how much they’re loved.

“In a way, we feel bad for people who aren’t multiples,” said Staci. “It’s a whole other world they don’t get to experience.”

Eric Townsend,
5/22/2013 2:00 PM