Some siblings to gain diplomas at same time


Christina Browning

Sisters Ashley (left) and Emily Sokolowski will graduate together this spring.

Tyreesha Bolton, Reporter

Third-year entrepreneurship student Emily Sokolowski could have finished her coursework at AACC last December, but decided to spread her classes out so she could graduate with her sister, Ashley, this month.

And the siblings will graduate together on May 23: Ashley, a communications student, has decided to forego the 9 a.m. ceremony for her classmates in the School of Liberal Arts so she can sit with Emily at the School of Business & Law commencement at 7 p.m.

Siblings Cullen and Kendall Bilger will sit together at this spring’s graduation, too. Cullen, who transferred from AACC to Salisbury University in January, is coming back to get his diploma on the same day Kendall is graduating with her associate degree in elementary education.

Cullen Bilger, who was a transfer studies student here, said the pair did not expect to graduate together. “It just kind of happened,” he said.

The Sokolowski sisters, who both attended AACC for three years and work in the same restaurant, said they enjoyed going to the same school and wanted to graduate together.

“I don’t think we could picture not having school at the same time … and not graduating at the same time,” said Ashley, 22.

Cullen Bilger agreed.

“It was nice having someone with you the whole time,” he said. “It made the experience easier.”

After graduation, however, the four students will go their separate ways.

“This is our first time being separated,” Kendall Bilger said.

Kendall, 19, said she will live on campus at Towson University and Cullen, 21, will stay at Salisbury University. But the siblings agreed the two-and-one-half-hour drive between the colleges won’t affect how close they are.

Both said they plan to keep in touch with frequent calls and texts.

The Sokolowski sisters said they took their relationship into account when planning their next steps for the future.

“We always intended to stay on the same side of the country,” Ashley Sokolowski said. “We never wanted to be super far apart from each other.”

The sisters said they are considering taking a semester off before applying to schools such as Columbia University in New York and Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute in Canada.

But before they embark on new opportunities, the sibling pairs said they are excited to end this chapter together.

“I wanted to graduate with [Ashley] whether she liked it or not,” Emily Sokolowski said.