Emily and Elizabeth Belinsky are twin sisters both attending Concordia University: One in Wisconsin (Elizabeth) and the other in Ann Arbor (Emily.)
Two years ago for National Sibling Day we first shared about the Belinsky sisters. Now, in the final weeks of their junior year at their respective campuses, we caught up with the sisters to see how it’s going.
What would you say are some similar things about your college experiences, even though you are on different campuses?
Elizabeth: I’d say the small campus feel and working with some super awesome staff.
Emily: Education wise, learning how to navigate big course loads with intense classes specific to our majors. Both of our schedules are hour to hour and usually do not include a lot of sleep – haha!
We both are immersed in career specific classes and experiences that allow us to prepare for our future careers in the real world. Elizabeth is studying Athletic Training, and I’m studying Exercise Science with the hopes of becoming a strength and conditioning coach and registered dietician.
What are some things that make your Concordia experiences different?
Elizabeth: Our classes are pretty different. Being an Athletic Training major I’m always busy with some sporting event, practice, and homework. Also, I interact with a wide range of athletes on a daily basis.
Emily: I play volleyball and track and field. I live on campus, and work on campus. Elizabeth is on the track and field and cross country teams, and lives off campus this year, and has a job off campus. I’m pretty involved in the CUAA’s CARES club and the Campus Ministry Leadership Team (CMLT). I’d also say my on-campus job (mailroom) requires me to be familiar with most staff members. This has come in handy because I know who I can go to or who to direct students to if there is ever an issue or a question which has helped me a lot the past three years.
What advice would you give your freshman self?
Elizabeth: I’d tell myself that what you come into college expecting may not always be the reality. Many things are out of your control all while you’re managing life, changing, and growing as a person. Not every friend you make will stick, not every experience is going to be amazing, not every expectation you have or others have of you will be met. I was once told, “It’s what you do with what’s thrown at you that makes you stronger and better as a human, an athlete, and a student.” I think this is such an important thing to remember when taking on all the challenges of college, good or bad.
Emily: I’d tell myself to create good study habits and a schedule in the beginning and STICK TO IT because it only gets harder and busier. Take a summer class or two to get ahead in the CCE/REL requirements so you can lessen your workload or add non-major courses to add to your education. I would also tell myself to appreciate the opportunity you have to further your education and make it a priority. Sports are temporary but our education and careers are forever.
Has your appreciation for your sister grown since freshman year, if so how?
Elizabeth: I think my appreciation has stayed the same. We needed to go out and be in separate places so we could do our own thing. Live independently and experience things without each other. Before college, we did our best to be seen independently, but a small town and a small school make that challenging. I think we can both appreciate that the separation we have gives us our own lives and our own identity.
Emily: Appreciate a sibling? That’s funny. Just kidding! On a real note, I would say yes! For starters, we both understand the intensity and importance that comes with our majors and doing well in both hands on, application, and knowledge-based skills as we will both be caring for other people in our careers. It is critical we have confidence in all the skills that we have learned so that we can provide the absolute best care possible, as if we were taking care of a loved one.
I would argue that Elizabeth’s program is more intense than mine, which I cannot imagine school being more challenging than it already is for me. This alone creates so much more respect for the person she is and the career path she chose and those within the athletic training world; they’re basically doctors. It also has helped that we are not forced to live in the same room together since we had been since birth… literally. We are able to be our own person—I guess it took a whole lake in between to make that possible.
Relatively different: Two sisters, one university
Editor’s note: This story first published in April 2019. See the original post.
Emily (’22) and Elizabeth (’22) Belinsky have a unique sister situation.
The identical twins from Beulah, Michigan are both freshmen who live on campus at Concordia University, but when they are away at school, they live over 350 miles from each other. How can that be?
Perhaps you could guess: Emily is enrolled in classes on Concordia’s Ann Arbor campus and Elizabeth attends classes on the Mequon campus. In 2013, Concordia University Wisconsin merged with Concordia University Ann Arbor to become one university with two residential campuses, as well as nine accelerated learning centers and online offerings that reach learners worldwide. It’s a unique scenario that few other institutions of higher learning can claim. While having campuses in two entirely different states causes some unique challenges at times, the union has produced a variety of opportunities for collaboration, resource-sharing, and a broader reach of students and supporters alike.
Concordia President Rev. Patrick T. Ferry, PhD, fondly likens to the acquisition of the Ann Arbor campus to that of a family receiving a new sibling. The family dynamic changes, but the unit is that much stronger and happier as a result of the addition.
The Belinsky sisters certainly know a thing or two about sibling dynamics. Like the Ann Arbor and Mequon campuses, the two sisters are similar in many regards and yet, upon closer examination, they have very distinct differences. For example, Elizabeth is left-handed and Emily is right. If they had to choose, Elizabeth would rather watch sports on television, while Emily prefers to watch YouTube make-up tutorials.
When it came to their college search, Emily and Elizabeth explored several different campuses together, each looking for characteristics in a school that would fit their unique interests.
“We didn’t plan to go to the same school because we had such different ideas about what we wanted to do and be involved in, how far we wanted to be from home, and other things like that,” said Elizabeth, whom is the older of the two by 8 minutes.
Both Emily and Elizabeth were looking for an institution where they could grow in their faith and be surrounded by a compassionate community that cared about their whole development, in mind, body, and spirit.
Emily studies biology and would eventually like to become a nutritionist. Elizabeth is a part of CUW’s pre-professional athletic training program.
Elizabeth knew she wanted to go to college out of state, away from Michigan. Emily was looking for a college campus that was close to city amenities like her personal favorites, Coldstone Creamery or Tropical Smoothie.
Both were interested in continuing participation in athletic programs that they had grown to love. Both sisters run track in the spring, but in the fall they commit to different programs—Elizabeth runs cross country and Emily plays on the Cardinals volleyball team.
As pastor’s daughters who attended The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s well-known Camp Arcadia as teenagers, both Belinskys knew a fair bit about the Concordia University System. What they didn’t know until their campus visits, though, was that there was a university that offered so much of what they were each looking for despite having distinctly separate criteria.
“It’s kind of fun to be able to relate to one another on the things that make our college experiences similar, like some of the core classes we take or how friendly our friends and professors are,” said Emily. “We also get to compare how different our cities are, different campus events, and what we like to do on the weekend. It’s fun to talk about.”
— Rachel Thoms served on Concordia University's Strategic Communications team from 2015-2022. Any inquiries about this story can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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