ORANGEBURG, S.C. – For the first time in his life, Thomas Alston will be separated at length from his twin brother, Timothy, when Thomas arrives at South Carolina State University for his freshman year this fall.
The twins — sons of SC State alumni Anthony and D’Metria Alston – will each be moving south from Columbus, Ohio, for post-secondary education at a Historically Black College or University. While Timothy selected North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University, Thomas was inspired in part by his parents’ experiences to enroll at SC State.
“I think we always knew we wanted to attend an HBCU to get that experience,” Thomas said, “but we more recently decided we were not going to attend the same school. We wanted to go our separate ways.
“Being twins, he’s always been right by my side. We’ve always been to the same school together, done everything together, studied together. So, I know this will be different, but I think we both will be able to handle being in different situations and meeting different people,” Thomas said.
A family tradition
South Carolina State University alumni Anthony and D’Metria Alston with twin sons Timothy and Thomas. Thomas (center right in blue) will be a freshman at SC State in Fall 2021.
The twins’ parents, who met as students in the Kirkland W. Green Student Center at SC State in the 1990s, brought the young men from Columbus to Orangeburg last week so Thomas could take advantage of Bulldog Ready, an event for first-time freshmen to complete the enrollment process.
“We wanted to bring him so he can see the campus firsthand and experience the Bulldog feel that we had when we were here,” said D’Metria, who earned her bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology from SC State in 1997. “We wanted him to – and he wanted to – have an HBCU experience. We wanted him to have this as an option to consider.
“Being able to come back and recognize the buildings and even some of the staff — that’s been really great for me,” she said. “It definitely gives you that family feeling that I think maybe he wouldn’t get at some of the other institutions.”
Both twins were accepted to several institutions of higher learning, including Ohio State University just a few minutes from the family’s house, but Thomas said he was only slightly nervous about being so far from home. His grandparents reside just 45 minutes from the SC State.
Plus, his parents’ love for SC State helped seal the deal.
“It did – not only hearing the stories and how much fun they had, but also being here now (at Bulldog Ready) and being able to tour it with them,” Thomas said. “I can hear more about what it was like and see for it for myself, it kind of locked it in that this is where I want to be.
“They talk a lot about what it was like growing up here. They also talked with us about that experience, but they also were encouraging us to get that HBCU experience because of the experience they had here,” he said.
The twins’ father, whose dual degrees in math education and professional mathematics led to a career as an educator and school administrator, spoke of the lasting connections he made on the SC State campus.
“I’m a military brat. I went to high school four years in Germany – in Berlin – before coming here … I moved around a lot,” Anthony said. “I just felt like I belonged here once I got here.
“I’m still super close to all the people I knew while was here. We clearly remember all the things we did while we were here on campus. I always felt like it was a great decision to come here.
“I’m looking for my son to have a similar experience – connecting with people and having that small college feel. I knew my professors … It was a really fun, smaller institution where I had a great time,” Anthony said.
Thomas intends to major in psychology with sights set eventually on graduate school and a counseling career in private practice.
He also plans to immerse himself in the Bulldog experience right away by joining campus organizations and playing intramural sports.
“I’m looking forward to the freedom,” Thomas said. “I’ve started realizing that I am going to have to be independent. I’m going to have to control my schedule. I’m excited to take on the responsibility.”
And with his twin attending a rival HBCU, he’s ready to represent Bulldog tenacity.
“That’s going to be different, too, but I guarantee you we will be competitive,” Thomas said.