Immigrant Twin Brothers Graduate from Top Medical Schools

Two immigrant twin brothers graduated from top medical schools one day apart from each other. Octavio and Omar Viramontes are twin brothers who graduated from Harvard and UCLA Medical School just one day apart, CBS News reported. The brothers came to California from Mexico when they were only 10 years old. The twins then helped their parents pick grapes in the fields and then would sell them door-to-door, according to the news station.

"The first year it was tough. We hated it," Omar told the news station. "But we started to realize that we were doing this for a specific reason, and it was to help our family, to help each other." The twins told CBS News that their mother taught them that education was important and introduced them to the town library. Octavio and Omar graduated high school sharing the title of valedictorian and then went their separate ways for college. Octavio attended Harvard with a full-ride scholarship for his undergraduate degree and Omar attended the University of California San Diego with a full-ride scholarship, according to the news station.

Omar told CBS News that he was shocked upon learning that he would be attending college with a full-ride scholarship. After graduating with their bachelor’s degrees, the twins both decided to pursue medical degrees.

"Why would they pick someone from a small town of 5,000 people to go to Harvard Medical School?" Octavio told the news station. "I remember refreshing the page, I guess making sure that you know it was addressed to the right person, and to me."

For many undocumented students, graduating from school is a big achievement. A report from the Migration Policy Institute released in April found that nearly 100,000 undocumented students graduate from high schools across the US each year. The think tank’s report sought to update estimates on undocumented students that estimated 65,000 students graduated each year from data collected from 2000-2002. The new report found that 98,000 students graduated from high school in the 2016-2017 school year.

Despite the increase in graduation rates, the report states that the future for undocumented high school students remains unclear for those who are not protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA program was created by the Obama Administration to protect undocumented children from being deported, but President Donald Trump attempted to end the program in 2017. An ongoing court battle will now deteremine the policy’s fate, according to a previous report from Reuters.

The Migration Policy Institute stated in the report that undocumented immigrants who graduate from high school may have a difficult time finding work or attending college. “While the legal battle over the existence and scope of the program continues, unauthorized immigrant youth (typically referred to as DREAMers) are graduating every year from high school without access to DACA protections, harming their work prospects and limiting their postsecondary education opportunities,” the fact sheet from the institute read.

“These legal developments beg the question how many of these youth, vulnerable to arrest and removal, graduate from high school annually to face these limited prospects.”

The Viramonte brothers aren’t the only set of high-achieving twins to graduate together this year. Identical twin sisters shared the title of co-valedictorians when they graduated from their Chicago high school earlier this month.

Tia and Tyra Smith both graduated with a 4.0 GPA from Lindblom Math and Science Academy in West Englewood, Illinois, Good Morning America (GMA) previously reported. The two 18-year-olds each took 12 Advanced Placement (AP) courses, were involved in their school’s gallery club, and started their own gallery club called “More Than 28,” which is the high school’s first Black history art gallery, according to GMA. The two sisters also have a love for theater and participated in the Steppenwolf Theatre’s Young Adult Council and the Goodman Theatre’s Bandle Young Critics programs. The two programs give students in Chicago a taste of what goes on behind the scenes in theater production, from fundraising to screenwriting, the Chicago Sun-Times previously reported. In the fall, Tyra will attend Northwestern University to study economics while Tia will head to Duke University to study statistics, according to the publication.

“I was glad it was both of us,” Tyra Smith previously told GMA. “We really worked together in order to be where we were. It was the last thing we could do together in school before we have to leave each other.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.