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Even before the 123 College of Agriculture seniors set to graduate this coming May begin making their mark through work and careers, they will have made history as part of the college’s largest graduating class on record.
For two members of the class—identical twins and animal sciences/pre-vet seniors Lauren and Lindsey Norberg—setting records is nothing new. The Ithaca, N.Y., natives, who have been swimming competitively since they were 9 and have been members of Auburn’s stellar women’s swimming and diving team since arriving on the Plains in 2009, still hold the 200-medley relay record in their home state, where Lauren also holds the 100-yard breaststroke record.
The twins say the self-discipline they developed from years of demanding practice schedules has benefited them academically.
“We are competitive when it comes to grades and have pushed each other to excel in all of our classes,” says Lindsey, whose 3.8 GPA only differs from Lauren’s by three-hundredths of a point. Both will graduate summa cum laude.
After high school, despite recruitment by other universities, the Norbergs left Ithaca and headed south to Auburn, a thousand miles away. They picked Auburn in part because their mother, who swam for Pittsburgh as a college student and formerly coached the Cornell women’s swim team was well aware that Auburn had one of the best teams in the country.
Ultimately, though, the Norbergs chose Auburn because, as sisters who long had shared the dream of becoming veterinarians, they knew the outstanding reputation of the university’s veterinary medicine program. The twins have always been drawn to animals and caring for them.
“We lived on a 100-acre farm and grew up around horses and assorted other farm animals,” Lindsey says. “We didn't have a garbage disposal; instead, we had Daisy, our large pig. As such, we both developed a great love of animals.”
The twins say they’ve always been extremely close and truly enjoy doing everything together. Only once in their 21 years have they ever been separated, and that was for two weeks due to an Australian swimming competition. And at Auburn, except for an English composition class, their schedules have been identical since their freshman year. They also share an apartment, an Italian greyhound named Iggy, a love of cooking and a car.
The togetherness will continue when the Norbergs graduate in May and then spend a year gaining work experience before applying to veterinary school. Though acceptance into Cornell’s veterinary medicine program would take them “back home,” they agree that Auburn is their first choice.
“We have thoroughly enjoyed our past few years and have fallen in love with the town,” Lauren says.
The twins credit the College of Ag with making them feel at home. With 21 hours of swim practice each week and competitions that have meant entire weeks away from classes, the 2008 Olympic trial qualifiers and two-time SEC champions are grateful for the faculty’s support.
“It’s really the teachers that make it for me,” Lauren says, and Lindsey echoes that.
“They go out of their way to help students,” she says. “And they’re so interested, so passionate about what they’re doing.”
Paul Patterson, the college’s associate dean for instruction, says each and every student in the college is important—not just to the college but to the future.
“We live in an ever-evolving, growing world that will need new solutions to address problems related to food production, the environment, energy supplies and human health,” Patterson says. “The nation’s colleges of agriculture are not graduating enough students for the jobs available in this country.”
The Auburn College of Ag’s total number of May 2013 graduates is 20 percent higher than the average class size from 2000 to 2012.