Seeing double: Twins reflect on shared experience at Tufts and their journeys here

Sasha and Chris Sasanuma (left), Jen and Lia Rotti (top right), and Ian and Elliot Lam (bottom right) are pictured. Courtesy the Sasanuma, Rotti and Lam twins

Twinhood can be a complicated relationship — it can be like having an ingrained best friend, or it can encourage constant competition. Many children who are not twins might romanticize the idea. “The Parent Trap” (1998) made the relationship seem appealing with its depiction of mischievous pranks and adventures. However, according to three sets of twins at Tufts, having a person with whom you share almost everything, including your college, is a more nuanced experience.

Ian and Elliot Lam

Seniors Ian and Elliot Lam are from Haworth, NJ. Elliot is studying international relations and economics, and Ian is studying economics and American studies. 

The two reported being incredibly close as children.

“I’ve always been really grateful to have a twin growing up, I love my brother to death,” Elliot said. They often shared friend groups but had some different extracurricular interests. Ian was interested in music, and Elliot participated in track.

The twins had quite a unique experience when it came to applying to Tufts — both applied Early Decision I, but at first, only one of them got in. The pair had agreed that even if they didn’t end up at the same school, they wanted to be close to each other. Application decisions were released: Elliot was accepted and Ian was deferred. In retrospect, Ian tells the story with a laugh, describing how their small high school began to gossip about the fact that only one of the twins was accepted. During the four-month stretch before regular admissions decisions were released, Ian convinced himself it was destiny that he had not been accepted. However, when he eventually got his acceptance letter, he made an instant decision — the twins would attend college together. 

When the pair first arrived at Tufts, Elliot said they had a mutual understanding that they would give each other space “to grow into the individual people that [they would] ultimately become.” Even so, Ian said he was slightly nervous about attending the same school as Elliot. He described learning that he and Elliot would be housed just one floor apart in Houston Hall. He was surprised and upset, so much so that he emailed Residential Life to try to get switched to a different room, but no change was made. 

Nevertheless, the twins have carved their own paths throughout their four years at Tufts while still staying close and relying on each other for support during hard times. 

Ian recalls a party he attended with his friends where he bumped into Elliot’s friend group while Elliot was studying abroad.

“It was almost like a full circle moment. I was like, ‘Oh, this is really nice … We kind of made our world and made our friends. And they’re friends with each other … In a way that I think that is really, really nice,” Ian said. 

Jen and Lia Rotti

Jen and Lia Rotti are sophomores, roommates, members of the track and field team and identical twins. Jen, who is studying biology, is on the pre-med track. She is the self-proclaimed less organized twin. Lia, who is majoring in applied math with a physics minor, laughed as she labeled herself the more orderly of the two. From a young age, the sisters have been extremely close.

“You have a built-in friend,” Lia said. Jen agreed, saying that she and her sister are compatible and share similar humor, values and extracurricular interests like track.

Nevertheless, at times twinhood can be a little isolating, they said.

“You do have that person who’s so close to you that, you know, it kind of makes us a bubble,” Lia said. The twin’s circle of friends usually included the two of them plus a couple of other people. 

When it came to applying to college, they made the conscious decision to apply to different universities. 

“We had decided that this was the time in our lives where we were going to try to, you know, split up and separate and differentiate ourselves from each other,” Jen said. 

Jen applied Early Decision I to Tufts while Lia was in the recruiting process for track at the University of Chicago. However, Lia’s offer fell through and Tufts was her second choice, so she applied to Tufts during the Early Decision II round and got in. With a laugh, they both agreed that ending up at Tufts was a positive coincidence. 

Jen and Lia’s relationship at Tufts has remained similar to what it was in high school.

“I was afraid that being stuck in like a 16-by-10-foot room would drive us crazy, but it’s actually been really great … I know that if I have a problem with something I can, like, tell her to stop without feeling bad,” Jen said.

Although some may assume that going to the same university as your identical twin sister would be difficult, it has been a smooth journey for the pair. But one problem they run into is when people confuse them for each other. 

“It’s always kind of funny when people mess it up,” Lia said. Jen added, “People always feel so bad when they mix up our names, but we’re just used to it, it doesn’t bother us.”  

Christopher and Sasha Sasanuma

Sasha and Christopher Sasanuma are fraternal twins from Tokyo, Japan. Sasha is a sophomore studying international relations and anthropology and Christopher is a first-year considering majoring in computer science and Spanish. For twins, Sasha and Chris are quite different from one another: Christopher is 6 feet, 6 inches tall, has smooth short hair and a quiet, introspective demeanor. Sasha is 5 feet, 3 inches tall with curly hair and an extroverted personality. Although they don’t seem to have much in common, they say they have a classic brother-sister relationship that involves joking around at the dinner table and friendly bickering.

The pair attended elementary school and high school together. Both agreed it was fun to share the same friends when they were young. 

“It was a big slumber party when we were growing up,” Christopher said. 

When they started high school, Christopher did not find as solid of a group of friends as Sasha did. Although he enjoyed spending time with her, it became hard not to draw comparisons.

“Part of me was always like, ‘oh, I wish I was Sasha, I wish I had an amazing group of friends,” Christopher said. “It’s like a contrast of obviously having always someone with you but also kind of having that comparison.”

Although both twins applied to Tufts, Christopher knew that he didn’t want to attend the same university as Sasha.

“Part of my identity in high school was, ‘Oh I’m Sasha’s brother,’” Christopher said.  

Although Sasha didn’t mind studying at the same university as Christopher, she didn’t take his desire personally.

“[I have] a pretty strong personality, so wanting a break from that, and wanting his own road totally made sense,” she said.

Christopher got into Tufts but Sasha was waitlisted. She attended Boston College for her first year of college, and Christopher went to Ecuador with the Tufts 1+4 program.

“I feel like we had our own spaces to struggle a good amount,” Sasha said, reflecting on their time apart as a healthy separation. 

When Sasha decided she wanted to transfer out of Boston College, she applied to Tufts again. She knew it would be a great fit, but was unsure of how Christopher would react. 

Ultimately, Christopher just wanted her to make the decision that would make her happy. 

The two said they have a positive relationship at Tufts, as their time apart and the fact that they are in different years have allowed them to lead different social lives.

“I feel like being in the same grade as your twin feels just very like this twin energy … and you can’t get away,” Sasha said. “But I feel like now there’s almost a peaceful power balance.” 

Sasha knew the people often advise against going to the same school as your sibling, but after she and Christopher both struggled independently, she came to the realization that they had grown enough that attending the same college would not be an issue. 

“With siblings, it’s not like you part ways and then five years later, you’re like, ‘Okay, I’ll see you in the city,’” she said. “For me, I realized that being close with siblings, and what family means, is really going through each stage together.”


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