These WCU siblings share more than just a set of chromosomes

By TERESA KILLIAN TATE

Two sets of twins, a word that TWINS Magazine (yes, there is a publication especially for multiples) traces to an ancient German word meaning “two together,” have taken similar paths to Western Carolina University to pursue similar dreams. Ashley Anderson and Amber Anderson, who are both special education majors, spent part of their spring semester helping students at Scotts Creek School in Jackson County improve their literacy skills. Jason Proffitt ’09 MS ’11 and Matthew Proffitt ’09 MS ’11 were invited to share their research with state legislators as part of 2011 N.C. Graduate Education Week.

Jason and Matthew Proffitt
WCU, Times Two (Twice): Jason (right) and Matthew (left) are from Burnsville and recently completed the Western Carolina master’s degree program in engineering technology after earning their bachelor’s degrees from WCU’s Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology. They recently accepted engineering jobs at the same company in Asheville. “As brothers, we have always worked together well,” said Matthew.

In Step: The Proffitts became interested in technology playing with toys such as Legos, K’NEX and Erector sets, and through their father, who is an engineer. At WCU, Matthew has researched using a swarm of robots to detect and recognize large scale meta events such as oil spills, radiation leaks and tsunamis. Jason’s recent research related to cancer treatment and reducing the moving parts, which can get jammed, used when automatically loading radiation sources utilizing a needle device.

Roommates: They roomed together during their undergraduate years in Norton Hall and have been housemates during graduate school.

Double Take: “For the first few years, our fellow students did not know we were twins and thought we were the same person double majoring,” said Matthew. “This also led to confusion when classmates of one didn’t understand why the other did not know them. This continued to happen during our graduate careers, especially if either of us had to venture into labs assisted by the other.”

Amber and Ashley Anderson
WCU, Times Two: Amber (right) and Ashley (left) are juniors from Durham majoring in special education who were drawn to Western Carolina after touring the campus during their exploration of teaching fellows programs.

In Step: The Andersons trace their shared career path in special education to a family friend who has a disability and to volunteering for a parks and recreation department program that offered fun activities tailored to the needs of children who have disabilities. “I knew from the first few interactions this is what I wanted to be involved with for the rest of my life,” said Amber. The sisters also are in their fourth year of coaching participants in the
Special Olympics.

Roommates: They have not yet lived together at WCU, but will be roommates in Balsam Hall during their senior year.

Double Take: Ashley said sometimes people ask if she is Amber’s mother or vice versa. “I simply tell them that I am only one minute older than she is and laugh it off. She does the same,” said Ashley. Amber said people ask them crazy questions about being twins, too. “I personally laugh at, ‘Can you feel each other’s pain?’ Ha, no, not really!” she said.