Hamilton College graduation offers a surprising first

Call it Hamil-twin College, at least for now.

At Sunday’s graduation ceremony at Hamilton College in Clinton, two co-valedictorians were recognized. That’s only ever happened once before.

But this was the first time that both co-valedictorians played on the varsity lacrosse team and planned to become dentists. It’s also the first time that they had the same last name and the same long, blonde hair streaming over their blue graduation robes.

No double exposure here. Olivia, left, and Chloe Chiota are co-valedictorians of Hamilton College in Clinton this year. They are also identical twins and both played on the college’s varsity lacrosse team. They’re standing at the college’s Steuben Field on Friday, May 17, 2024, two days before they graduated.

They are Chloe Chiota and Olivia Chiota, varsity lacrosse teammates, biology majors, summer interns at the New England Center for Children, residents of Southborough, Mass., and, as you’ve likely guessed by now, identical twins.

“They came into Hamiton dedicated and passionate about health care and learning everything they could to get to their chosen professions,” said Courtney Hance, director of health professions advising. “They didn’t know what that would be, but in their junior year, after working in hospitals and shadowing many health professionals, they landed on dentistry.

“Driven, committed and thoughtful, Chloe and Olivia dove all in to prepare themselves to be the best candidates for dental school.”

And that’s not all these sisters have in common:

  • Both won academic awards during their years at Hamilton while also playing varsity lacrosse.

  • They both belonged to the Pre-Health Club.

  • Both volunteered with Strong Girls at Hamilton, an after-school program that empowers girls in third, fourth and fifth grade through athletics.

  • They both worked with children with autism spectrum disorders during their internships at the New England Center for Children, a school for children on the spectrum and a center for professional training in psychology and disability education. Hamilton has long had a partnership with the center.

  • Both young women also volunteered with the nonprofit Morgan’ Message, which stresses the importance of mental health in scholar-athletes by building a safe community for athletes and using platforms for advocacy.

And they are both “very modest, terrific and fun-loving people — and, of course, excellent students,” said Natalie Nannas, associate professor of biology.

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But don’t let all those similarities make you think they are identical in anything other than genetics and college grade point averages. Chloe, for example, minored in sociology while Olivia minored in women’s and gender studies.

And in the Pre-Health Club, Chloe served as president while Olivia was vice president. But Olivia was president of Strong Girls at Hamilton.

And back in high school in Massachusetts, the two didn’t share a grade point average. One was number seven and the other number nine in their graduating class.

No word from Hamilton College yet, though, on whether the sisters will attend the same dental school or on whether they’ll go into practice together, a much safer bet for identical-twin dentists than optometrists who patients might just think they’re experiencing double vision from the eyedrops.

This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Identical twins honored as Hamilton College co-valedictorians