Sister, Sister: Three Sets of Graduating Sisters Talk about Their UT Years

KNOXVILLE — For some students, graduating from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is truly a family affair. Among this year’s graduates are three sets of sisters — two sets, identical twins — who will receive their diplomas this week.

Norene and Lillian Napper

The Napper sisters of Dallas, Texas, are graduating from UT College of Law on a high note — literally.

In addition to being aspiring lawyers, Norene, 26, and Lillian, 24, are musicians who have performed for alumni, faculty, staff and students at a number of events.

“We perform as ‘The Napper Sisters,’ playing Americana, bluegrass and country music at a variety of venues where we sing; play fiddle, guitar and mandolin; and clog dance,” Norene Napper said.

Although they’re a couple of years apart in age, the sisters came to the College of Law at the same time.

“We chose UT because of our family connections with Tennessee and the reputation of the school itself,” Lillian Napper said. “Not only was our grandmother born and raised outside of Nashville in the Spring Hill area, but our cousin graduated from UT’s College of Law a year before we came. After we visited the law school and met the people here, we were extremely impressed and interested in all of the opportunities that UT had to offer.”

The Napper sisters have worked as student advisers to incoming students and as graduate assistants. Both have participated in the judicial externship program: Lillian with the Knoxville Criminal Courts and Norene with the Tennessee Supreme Court. And both have taken part in the clinical programs at UT: Lillian with the Advocacy and Innocence Clinics and Norene with the Mediation Clinic.

“We are now both graduating with a concentration in advocacy and dispute resolution,” Lillian said. She is interested in the criminal defense field while her sister is interested in combining music and the law through sports and entertainment law.

The sisters plan to return to Texas and take the bar exam there in July.

“Regardless of pursuing a career in the legal profession, music and dance will always remain an important part our lives,” Lillian said.

The Napper Sisters will be performing at the College of Law hooding ceremony to be held at 5 p.m. Friday in Thompson-Boling Arena.

Quiteka and Quineka Moten

Identical twins Quiteka and Quineka Moten of Memphis — who go by “Teka” and “Neka” — have been repeatedly honored for promoting cultural diversity at UT Knoxville.

Teka Moten, who majored in sociology and interdisciplinary programs with a concentration in legal studies, has been active in Student Government Association and the Council for Diversity and Interculturalism. She has been involved in Project GRAD, UT LEAD Summer Institute and Big Brothers-Big Sisters. And, back in 2006, when the Geier Consent Decree was lifted by the courts, she organized a forum to inform student of issues affecting diversity enrollment at UT.

In 2009, Teka Moten received the 2009 Gene Mitchell Gray Pioneer Award, a Chancellor’s Honor for a student for proactive contributions in promoting cultural diversity. This year, she received an African-American Image Award for Collegiate Achievement.

Neka Moten, majored in Africana Studies and interdisciplinary programs with a concentration in legal studies, carried on the family tradition when she received the 2010 Gene Mitchell Gray Pioneer Award at the Chancellor’s Honor Banquet for her work in revitalizing the Mahogany Soul Café tradition at UT. The café gives students a place to come together and express themselves through poetry, music, dance, art and other forms of expression.

Neka Moten also has been active in Minority Student Affairs, Project Grad and Big Brothers-Big Sisters.

The Moten twins – who have been roommates for much of their time at UT — both plan to attend graduate school.

“Attendance is probably the funniest thing (for twins) on the first day of class,” Teka Moten said. “You’ll see a professor mark out an ‘extra’ Moten, only to be corrected when he or she completes roll.”

The College of Arts and Sciences graduation is at 8:30 a.m. Friday in Thompson-Boling Arena.

Darla and Cynthia Coley

Identical twins Darla and Cynthia Coley of Maryville soon will trade their seats in the classroom for seats at the front of the classroom.

The sisters, who turn 22 later this month, are graduating with different degrees, but both are planning teaching careers.

Darla Coley majored in history with minors in geography and secondary education, and she plans to be a high school history or geography teacher. Cynthia Coley majored in child and family studies with a concentration in early childhood education, and she plans to teach kindergarten through third grade.

“We both decided to attend UT because it is close to where we live and also because members of our family are huge Tennessee football fans,” Darla Coley said.

Although they only had two classes together during their time at UT, the sisters say attending the same university — and having similar majors — has provided a great support system.

“I always have someone to talk to who knows what I’m going through because she’s going through it too,” Darla Coley said.

“The best part about having my twin on campus is that I see her all the time and so we share a lot of the same experiences, whether good or bad.”

Darla Coley will be in the Arts and Sciences graduation ceremony; Cynthia Coley will be in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences graduation ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Thompson-Boling Arena.

For more 2010 UT Commencement stories, see http://tntoday.utk.edu/tag/commencement-2010/

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu)

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