When April and Lili Casas were born, it was quite a surprise for their parents, Manuel and Martha Casas. Ultrasounds, showing a healthy baby boy turned into two healthy baby girls. The girls, born and raised in Clinton, OK., and now juniors at the University of Oklahoma, recall being told everyone in the delivery room was quiet surprised, to the point dad passed out. Only Manuel could say for sure, but part of what might have dropped him to the floor may have been the thought of having two children in college together, something both April and Lily understand.
“Being twins, it’s harder on our parents,” Lily acknowledges. “We’re in college at the same time. It’s double the payment for everything.”
That means two sets of books, two tuition payments, twice the living arrangements and…well, you get the point. That’s why the Casas family is so grateful the twins are recipients of scholarships. The latest award they received came from the OU Club of Clinton, which awarded each of the Casas girls scholarship funds for this school year. The awards are part of the annual effort by OU Alumni clubs to fund scholarships for students in a clubs’ geographical areas. This year, clubs will fund more than $700,000 in scholarships.
To understand just how much the scholarships mean, consider that in the case of April and Lily, scholarship money is funding two first-generation college students, both of whom plan careers in the medical fields; April as an eye doctor and Lily as an orthopedic surgeon. The girls are both majoring in biology, Lily on a pre-med track and April with a Spanish minor. Both have their own deep appreciation for having received scholarships, especially those funded by the community in which they grew up.
“I think it’s nice,” April notes. “This past semester, I made the Dean’s Honor roll. Dr. Floyd Simon (a Clinton dentist and longtime OU supporter) knows us and he went up to my mom and gave her a hug and told her he had seen we were doing well and that he was proud of us. It’s nice to know they are taking the time to really know how we’re doing. They put a face to a name.”
The attraction to OU for both April and Lily was two-fold. Both expressed an interest in coming to Norman because it was far enough away from their hometown to force them to grow as individuals and close enough to to head home to see mom and dad. And, for Lily, another scholarship played a factor. She earned one of OU’s Distinguished Scholar awards, a four-year renewable scholarship based on academic and ACT performance coming out of high school. The pair found coming to Norman and beginning their university careers a smooth transition, living together in OU’s residence halls as freshman and continuing to live together now.
“It’s fun that we get to share the same friends,” Lily says. “When we lived in the dorms, we had all the same hall mates and we were friends with everyone. It’s pretty cool. This semester we’re taking two classes together so we get to go to class together, study together.”
“It’s a built in best friend,” April adds.
So, with classes together and the same circle of friends, do the pair suffer from the dreaded twin rivalry? Not so much.
“We’re not into the comparing,” April is quick to say. “We get enough of that from everyone else.”
While academics takes up a majority of their time, both the Casas girls have found time for activities on campus. Both served as members of OU’s Sooner Scouts program, helping in recruiting potential OU students from western Oklahoma by sharing their own experiences on the Norman campus. Lily is active in the OU Pre-Med Club, while April is in Spanish Club and a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority. Those activities, and the knowledge their educations are receiving the funding support they need, have left April and Lili with a deep appreciation of their OU experience.
“We have friends at other universities and they aren’t having the same experience we’re having here,” Lily reflects. “I’m really glad we’re here. Without the scholarships, we wouldn’t be here. We’ve been able to make it. We’ve been able to experience college life.”
“I want to be able to give back, as the people in Clinton have given to us,” April concludes.