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OQuinn Sisters

February 22, 2016

Erin O’Quinn and her identical twin, Elisabeth, didn’t set out to follow their dreams to the same place. But after spending their undergraduate years at different universities in their home state of Georgia, both chose UNCW for their graduate studies – Erin in English and Elisabeth in the International MBA program.

Admitting she found UNCW while doing a Google search for universities with strong graduate English programs, Erin said she knew it was right for her after a closer look. “I was interested in smaller class sizes and more one-on-one with professors,” she said. Besides, she added, “the people are awesome.”

Joining Erin on a campus tour, Elisabeth, who was looking for a program with a focus on international business, took time to talk with faculty and staff at the Cameron School of Business. Soon she was convinced that UNCW was the place for her, too.

“I was attracted to the IMBA program at UNCW because of the positive reputation of the university, international job opportunities with major companies, and the chance to network with so many different people on different levels,” she said.

While they pursue different interests, both sisters have made their mark here.

In 2014 Elisabeth O’Quinn won first place in the Innovation Concept Pitch Competition held at UNCW as part of Entrepreneurship Week. Her idea for a social media platform aimed at helping people find an exercise partner, aptly named “Workout Buddy,” was worth $500 and a six-month membership at a local product development “maker space.”

She recently returned to Wilmington after four months studying in Germany. She says her ultimate goal, after working a few years in the corporate finance world, is to start her own business, possibly in online retail.

Her sister’s plans will keep her rooted in academia. Erin O’Quinn will finish her master’s degree in May and is looking for schools with a strong English Ph.D. program, which she hopes will lead to a university faculty position. She was the 2014-15 recipient of the Christopher Gould Fellowship, awarded to a graduate student in the English Department based on achievement and academic ability.

Erin has received high praise from students she’s helped in her roles as teaching assistant in the English department and a tutor in the University Learning Center. “Erin was absolutely amazing!” one student wrote. “The essays I brought to the center have been stressing me out; her honesty and encouragement were quite refreshing.”

Their physical resemblance often gets double takes, and it isn’t unusual for a casual acquaintance to mistake one twin for the other. Erin is quick to point out one difference.

“I’m nine minutes older,” she grinned.

--Tricia Vance

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