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Two graduations, one weekend

My twins graduate from college less than 24 hours and 250 miles apart

Fran O'Leary, Wisconsin Agriculturist Senior Editor

May 24, 2016

3 Min Read

As the mother of 22-year-old twins, I learned years ago that with twins, it’s double the work and double the joys. That was certainly true the weekend of May 14 and 15, when we attended both of their college graduations less than 24 hours and 250 miles apart!


Matthew, the youngest by 22 minutes, graduated at noon on Saturday, May 14, from University of Wisconsin-Madison. The ceremony was held at Camp Randall, which holds 80,000. There were easily 65,000 to 70,000 people in attendance. Nathan graduated 21 hours later at 9 a.m. on Sunday, May 15, from UW-River Falls. His ceremony was indoors at River Falls High School. Yes, the high school, because the building where they used to hold graduations at UW-River Falls is being remodeled, and the Falcon Center, where they will hold graduations starting in 2017, is under construction.

It was easy to predict months ago that we would get precipitation on Saturday because that ceremony was outside, and a sunny day on Sunday since that ceremony was inside. What I didn’t see coming was temperatures in the 30s on Saturday and precipitation as snow! It was windy and cold, and it snowed for 10 minutes while Badger alum and quarterback Russell Wilson delivered his keynote speech.

The thermometer dipped down to 30 degrees that night at home, and it was only 26 degrees in River Falls. A week later, it was 78 degrees, proving only in Wisconsin can you get frostbite and a sunburn all in the same week.

Following Matthew’s graduation, we held a party for both boys with family and friends at Babcock House, where Matthew lived all four years during college. After taking lots of pictures, at 4 p.m. we loaded up the cars and hit the road to get to the next graduation in River Falls. Sunday morning we awoke to a bright, sunny and much warmer day. Thankfully, no winter coats or mittens needed! I was amazed that 15 family members and friends made the more than four-hour trip to River Falls. After lots more pictures, we celebrated with lunch at a restaurant in River Falls.

My husband and I are infinitely proud of our youngest sons. We’re gratified they both used their farm backgrounds and chose majors in agriculture. Matthew received a bachelor’s of science degree in dairy science and agronomy. Nathan received a bachelor’s of science degree in crops and soils sciences. And both of them found great jobs before graduating.

A couple of days after graduation, Matthew started work as a dairy nutritionist and agronomist at Jacobson’s Farmer’s Supply in nearby Brownsville, and Nathan started his new job as a research agronomist at Seneca Foods in Janesville. We’re grateful they both graduated from college in four years, with little or no student loans, and have jobs within 90 minutes of where we live in Brandon.

I admit I shed a few tears during graduation weekend, but they were mostly tears of joy. Even though I know a very big chapter in their lives, as well as ours, has closed, another chapter has opened, and I can’t wait to see where the next part of their exciting journey takes them.

About the Author(s)

Fran O'Leary

Wisconsin Agriculturist Senior Editor, Farm Progress

Fran O’Leary lives in Brandon, Wis., and has been editor of Wisconsin Agriculturist since 2003. Even though O’Leary was born and raised on a farm in Illinois, she has spent most of her life in Wisconsin. She moved to the state when she was 18 years old and later graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

Before becoming editor of Wisconsin Agriculturist, O’Leary worked at Johnson Hill Press in Fort Atkinson as a writer and editor of farm business publications and at the Janesville Gazette in Janesville as farm editor and a feature writer. Later, she signed on as a public relations associate at Bader Rutter in Brookfield, and served as managing editor and farm editor at The Reporter, a daily newspaper in Fond du Lac.

She has been a member of American Agricultural Editors’ Association (now Agricultural Communicators Network) since 2003.

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