The story is legend in the Norris household.

06 December 2004

On the day in 1982 when mom Julie Norris gave birth to twin girls, things didn't quite go according to plan when the one expected to be the baby of the two, Kirsten, shouldered her way to the front of the queue. Such was the impatient Kirsten's rush that she knocked wombmate Philippa head over heels, and her younger sister, which Philippa now was, was born breech (feet first) a full five minutes later.

All's been forgiven since then, of course. Although this week Kirsten will again take the lead - if only by virtue of the Roman alphabet - when the twins step up the podium to graduate with their BA degrees. There was little opportunity for extra-sensory aid during exams - Kirsten will major in psychology and English, Philippa in media and writing, English, and visual and art history.

Both, however, will have to take a back seat to mom Julie. Norris will be capped just before "the Twinnies" - the two went by Twinnie A and Twinnie B for some three months after their birth while mom decided on names - at the Thursday morning humanities graduation ceremony. After a nine-year haul, Norris, an administrative officer in the Faculty of Commerce, has wrapped up her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and the study of ancient history. With distinction.

The mass-graduation wasn't orchestrated, says Norris. Not initially, anyway. "It was only as I got near the end of my degree that I realised that we could all graduate together." The prospect of donning academic robes alongside the Twinnies helped Norris through the final stretch of her studies, especially during those times when she considered giving up. "It's what kept me going," she says. It also meant she had to keep Kirsten, who wanted to take a year off midway through her studies, and Philippa on track.

Next year, Kirsten hopes to move on to honours in psychology. Philippa is applying for a postgrad spot in journalism at New York University. And mom Norris will take a break from the books for a while.

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