Hannah Conklin offers a quick glimpse into lives of two unique Bluffton Beavers. They’ve spent the last 18 years together, and now they plan to spend the next four together at Bluffton.
CONKLIN: Hey everybody, this is Hannah Conklin with a podcast for Bluffton University’s 96.1 The Wit.
In this segment, you’ll get a quick glimpse into the lives of two very unique Bluffton beavers. They’ve spent the past 18 years together and now they plan to spend the next four here together at Bluffton. I’m talking about first-year students and twins, LaJohn and Leslie Beasley.
For many, college is a chance to move away from siblings. For these two, college has been a place where they’ve grown closer.
LaJohn and Leslie were born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. LaJohn is a first-year business major. You may know him as part of the Student Senate. Leslie is a first-year special education major. She’s also a member of the volleyball team which earned their fourth straight Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship this past season.
Welcome. Thank you for being here.
CONKLIN: Okay, now let’s start with the real hard-hitting questions first.
LAJOHN: Let’s go.
CONKLIN: Twin telepathy—is it real?
LAJOHN: Yes, Leslie?
LESLIE: Very real.
LAJOHN: You ready?
LAJOHN: What am I thinking?
CONKLIN: I’m just joking, but let’s get one more thing clear. Who’s the older twin?
LESLIE: I am older by two minutes.
LAJOHN: But they saved the best for last.
CONKLIN: Now that I’ve gotten all the stereotypical twin jokes out of the way, tell me more about your journey to Bluffton. Did you always intend to go to college together?
LESLIE: We did not plan on that.
CONKLIN: Is it something that you talked about?
LAJOHN: Yes, we talked about it. I mean our mom definitely wanted us to go to the same college, because, you know, my sister needs me to help her out and everything.
LESLIE: That’s a false statement. My mom wanted me to watch him!
LAJOHN: But hey, we’re here! We’re loving it.
LESLIE: Yeah, we definitely had planned on attending separate colleges…just to see how it would be to not have the twin title attached to us and be like more independent, but even together at the same college, it still didn’t change anything. We’re still our own individual selves.
CONKLIN: Interesting. So why Bluffton? Who picked Bluffton first?
LAJOHN: I picked Bluffton first.
LESLIE: I applied to Bluffton on the down low because I didn’t know how LaJohn would feel about us attending the same school for the next four years..again.
CONKLIN: So now that you’re here, I’m sure you’ve found there are unique challenges to going to a small college with your twin. Has that been difficult to adjust to?
LAJOHN: No, not really. I’ve been ready to go to college since forever, you know. I’m doing just fine.
LESLIE: There have been many challenges for me going to college, but it’s just like adjusting to the workload and time management, but nothing difficult with having my twin here. That just makes it easier.
CONKLIN: Now that’s interesting. Tell me more about this twin support system you’ve had since you’ve been in college.
LESLIE: So, like LaJohn said, he’s cool with the transition, but for me making friends and everything was initially hard, so if I felt lonely or just needed someone to talk to that I know would understand me, I could just go to LaJohn’s dorm room and talk to him, so it’s like when I’m here and I’m facing a challenge, it’s not like I have to face it alone. I have the reassurance that LaJohn will be there. Even though he’s like super far across campus..he’s in Ropp..I can just go there and ease my mind and relax.
CONKLIN: So he’s across campus now and not across the hall?
CONKLIN: What about you, LaJohn?
LAJOHN: I don’t really go through anything crazy. It’s just if I don’t have anyone to hang out with, I just bug my sister.
CONKLIN: So do you find that you gravitate towards similar friends groups?
LAJOHN: I think like I just have a lot of friends and me and Leslie are usually together, so they just know both of us. It’s not like her friends and her friends and my friends We just all have the same friends.
CONKLIN: You mentioned earlier that you were somewhat concerned with being labeled as twins here. Is that something you struggle with?
LESLIE: No, I remember LaJohn and I attended two different orientations at Bluffton, so the second time I went, as soon as I walked through the door, everyone was able to identify that I was the twin of LaJohn. And I feel like it would be different if we were same sex twins, but LaJohn’s a boy, I’m a girl, so we still definitely have our own identities and different likes and everything. I honestly never have that problem, but it was just like, “Hmm, how would it be to not have that twin label” like would things be different? I don’t think things would, but possibly.
LAJOHN: We share the same experiences, we go to the same school and everything, but we approach life differently. We have our own identity on the campus still.
CONKLIN: What would you say one of the biggest differences between you two is?
LESLIE: I’m a worrier, and LaJohn is a go with the flow type, so I like to have things planned out. When things don’t go the way I want them to go, it’s like the end of the world. LaJohn’s like “ah, okay, onto the next one.” So when I go to him like when something goes wrong and I like tell him, he could kind of care less because he’s like “whatever happens, happens.”
LAJOHN: Yeah, I’m pretty spontaneous. I got a lot of spontaneity. For me, I’m like Leslie said. I’m pretty easy going, I’m pretty calm. Leslie likes to stress a lot for no reason.
LESLIE: Like LaJohn…I know in elementary, high school, and all that stuff, he was more of the social twin and I was more of the academic twin, so I know that we like relied on each other in those ways. Do you still rely on me academically in college?
LAJOHN: Have I asked you anything about homework?
LAJOHN: Then no. Exactly.
CONKLIN: Alright, now what would you say each other’s biggest strengths are?
LAJOHN: Leslie’s extremely focused and devoted to her craft and everything. Her academics are flawless. Even throughout high school, she always made A’s. Even if she thinks she failed something, she gets an A-. I think that’s like the worst grade she ever got. She’s crazy, crazy focused and super passionate about whatever she’s doing.
LESLIE: It’s the same for LaJohn. He is also very driven and he does not allow other people’s opinions to dictate what he can and cannot do. I think that’s the biggest thing that I admire about him. And he knows how to keep a calm head and knows how to comfort people and bring joy in a sad situation.
CONKLIN: So you’re over a semester into college at this point. If you had to choose a school, would you choose to stay together at the same one?
LAJOHN: Yeah, of course. We prayed a lot. We prayed a whole lot wondering what decision’s going to be best, because the transition from high school to college is very intense and annoying and sleepless and tiring, but at the end of the day, we both made a great decision.
LESLIE: Yeah, I agree. I’m excited to be back with my brother again…even though we never left each other, but yeah it’s great. I wouldn’t change anything. God knew what he was doing, and we’re doing great things together again.
CONKLIN: So Leslie tells me you guys have always wanted the chance to freestyle rap together. Is this true?
LESLIE: Yes, are you ready guys? Here we go. Bluffton—home of the Beavers!
LAJOHN: Twins….I wanted to leave her!
CONKLIN: Well, thank you for speaking with me. I really appreciate your time, and I think we’re all glad to have you as a part of this campus community.
LAJOHN: Thank you for having us. It’s been great.
LESLIE: Thanks Hannah. See you around campus.
CONKLIN: We’ve just heard from first-year Bluffton students LaJohn and Leslie Beasley on their journey to Bluffton, as well as the joys and struggles of going to college with your twin.