Whitefield twins Robert and Stephen Soohey credit a sense of supportive competitiveness and balance in their lives for helping them excel and leading them to become Eskine Academy’s 2013 valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.
The brothers, who graduate this month, are both attending the University of Maine this fall. Though their majors are related – Stephen is majoring in bioengineering and Robert is majoring in microbiology with a minor in pre-medical – Robert says the difference is indicative of their selves.
“We’ve always both been good at math and science, we have a lot of the same interests but, like this shows, just because we’re good at the same areas or like the same things doesn’t mean we necessarily are good at the same aspects,” Robert said.
The decision to attend UMaine happened independently, with neither purposely choosing to go to the same or a different school, Stephen said. “It just happened that both of us thought UMaine would be the best choice for us as far as moving forward with our lives,” he said.
Because the desire to attend medical school will require a lot of both time and money, Robert said he chose UMaine because it is not as expensive as some other schools he applied to and it is close enough to home that he can visit friends and family.
“We got a pretty good scholarship, too,” Stephen said.
Robert said some people assume he and Stephen are very competitive, as brothers often are, but the two are actually competitive in a supportive way that helps them strive for their best.
“We try to help each other achieve more. I feel like it’s worked,” Stephen said.
“We’re supportive, not abrasive; we’re just building each other up, not bringing each other down,” Robert said. “I think it also helped to lead us where we are now.”
The brothers attended Whitefield Elementary School before moving on to Erskine. They do not feel Whitefield deserved the “F” ranking the school recently received from the Department of Education.
Stephen said he and Robert were as ready for high school as students that came from higher-ranked schools. “I feel like we were just as prepared as them. I’m not saying Whitefield was the best school, but I don’t see why it got an F,” he said.
Having jumped directly into biology their freshman year, Stephen said he definitely felt prepared for high school science. “It doesn’t have to be the best school ever,” he said. “I feel like you get out of it what you put into it.”
Robert agreed, adding that kids like to put the blame on the teachers instead of taking responsibility themselves. “There’s kind of a balance between the effort the student’s willing to put in, and the effort the teacher is,” he said.
“Life is all about balance,” Robert said. Many kids do not balance their time well and focus just on sports, just on academics and clubs for college acceptance, or blow it all off, he said.
The brothers have managed to tread a fine line of balance between academics, sports, friends and family, Robert said. “I feel like me and Steven are great examples of striking that balance,” he said.
Still, the academics did take a lot of time, Robert said. “Anything that’s worth doing’s going to take hard work and time,” he said.