MORE COMMENCEMENT COVERAGE
- Story from Friday night's event in Arizona Stadium
- Gallery of images celebrating the Class of 2018
- 360-degree video from the steps of Old Main to the stadium (To play: Use the latest version of Chrome, Opera, Firefox or MS Edge on your computer; on mobile devices, use the latest version of the YouTube app)
The answer came in stereo. "Twenty-six," they responded when asked their age.
Later, they donned identical doctoral gowns, tams and hoods as they prepared to receive matching Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees at the University of Arizona College of Nursing Convocation last week. The identical twins crossed the stage one after the other, Michelle Stephanie Celeste I first, followed by her sister, Michelle Stephanie Celeste II. They also participated in the University-wide ceremony in Arizona Stadium.
"I was born five minutes before her," said Michelle Stephanie Celeste I, who goes by the name Michelle while her sister answers to Stephanie.
Not much has separated the twins since then. Born in the Philippines, they graduated from high school and attended nursing school together before immigrating to the U.S. in 2012. They took the National Council Licensure Examination to become registered nurses and went to work at the same hospital in Odessa, Texas.
When one moved to Las Vegas, they both moved to Las Vegas.
"Some twins don't want to do the same thing, because it's like getting defined by the other twin. But for us, we haven't ever thought anything like that," Michelle said. "We have just always been doing the same thing at the same time — same profession, same hobbies and lifestyle. I couldn't imagine doing something just by myself and not with her. It has to be with her."
"It's a package deal," Stephanie added with a laugh.
When the topic of continuing their education came up, it was, of course, something they decided to do together. They applied to the UA Doctor of Nursing Practice program, an all-online curriculum that is among the top 30 in the nation. They completed the program while working full time.
"In Las Vegas, we worked at the same hospital in different departments. But as we finished our DNP program, we moved to outpatient care to adjust our schedules for clinicals and everything else," Stephanie said. "We actually work at the same outpatient surgery center, so we work together."
Not only did the sisters work and go to school together, they also trained and competed in the Ironman 70.3 triathlon in Tempe, Arizona, last October. They finished the race in the same time: 7 hours, 4 minutes, 53 seconds.
With graduation behind them, Michelle and Stephanie are studying for their DNP board examinations while training for another Ironman in November.
"Doing something with her makes it more fun," Michelle said.