For three graduates, Troy University is a family affair

Posted: Tuesday, 06 May 2008

TROY – Friday will mark the beginning for some 500 graduates participating in commencement exercises, but for one Prattville family it also marks an end.

Siblings Ben, Karen and Sara Skelton will all walk the commencement stage in Sartain Hall Friday. While college chums heading in different directions isn’t uncommon, it is for this trio. They have been together since kindergarten.

“It’s exciting that we’re graduating, but it’s also kind of scary because we’ve been together for 22 years. I’m not going to be there for my sisters if their car breaks down or if they have any problems,” 23-year old Ben said.

At TROY, Ben has been the “active” one – majoring in sports and fitness management, being involved in several different campus organizations and being a “founding father” for the University’s chapter of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. Last year, he was elected homecoming king – a first for the University.

“It’s been the best four years of my life,” he said. Ben will stay at TROY to earn a master’s degree while Sara and Karen head to Birmingham to start jobs.

“I’ll be sad, but it’s good, too,” said Karen, a political science major. “It’s good to have your big brother around, but now that we’re older it’s good to be independent.”

With a chuckle, she adds: “It’ll be weird because we’ve never been away from him. It’s time to grow up.”

Karen admits she and Sara balanced work, school and “the college experience” during their time at TROY.

“At first, I didn’t like TROY because it was a small school, but now I would tell everybody to come here – there’s just such a great atmosphere and you get to know everybody really well. It’s a fun place to go to school,” she said, adding that TROY wasn’t her first choice.

Like brother Ben, Karen was headed to another school in Alabama out of Prattville High School. Sara, who graduates with a marketing degree, was the only sibling heading to TROY.

“I feel lucky that all three of us ended up going here,” Sara said, recognizing that the trio likely marks the first time siblings have gone from kindergarten to college commencement in “the same grade.”

“College can be scary anyway, but having a brother and sister with you it’s much easier – and it’s easier on our parents, too,” Sara said.

Ben was headed to Huntsville to school and toured the campus. By fluke, he said, he came to TROY with his sisters for a school visit and was hooked. Karen decided to stick with her twin.

“At first, I was kind of mad because this was my chance to be an individual, but going to school together has made it easier and we’ve grown much closer,” Sara said. “TROY was the perfect college experience – It’s really my second home and I’m going to miss it.”

“Being a twin, you’re known as a twin and not as ‘Sara’ – you don’t always have your own personality, but we all made the right decision coming to TROY and we’ll all miss it,” she added.

Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

(left to right) Sara, Ben and Karen Skelton have done everything together since kindergarten and will continue that streak as the graduate from Troy University Friday May 9, 2008 with undergraduate degrees. The twin sisters and Ben are from Prattville. (TROY photo/Clif Lusk)