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Mills twins got the most out of Monmouth experience

Barry McNamara
Becca and Sarah Mills.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – Twins Becca and Sarah Mills of Peoria, Ill., who graduated from Monmouth on Sunday, shared similar experiences during their college careers, but they are quick to point out they didn’t do everything together.

The sisters both graduated with honors, were award-winning scholars, studied abroad, sang in College ensembles, majored in Spanish and spent a year in the Fighting Scots Marching Band.

“After we visited Monmouth, we both knew it was where we wanted to be,” said Sarah.

“But for sure, we were NOT roommates,” said Becca.

Becca’s longtime roommate was classmate Galen Hughes of Genoa, Ill., and the two close friends shared a moment during the College’s Baccalaureate Service on the day before Commencement.

As the Chorale performed at the close of the service, Becca was overcome by tears during “A Flame of White and Crimson,” Monmouth’s alma mater.

“I realized that’s the last time we’ll be singing that song in that setting,” said Becca, who had Hughes right next to her as a shoulder to cry on.

A few days earlier, Becca had another culminating performance, presenting what one of her professors called “an outstanding senior thesis.”

The magna cum laude graduate integrated her majors – sociology/anthropology and Spanish – during a semester abroad through a Monmouth College program in Costa Rica. She engaged in field work with an immigrant women’s support organization serving women, mostly from Nicaragua, who had migrated to Costa Rica to work to support their families back home.

“Through focus groups and in-depth interviews, Becca explored the fictive kinship networks of support established by the migrant women in Costa Rica,” said sociology professor Judi Kessler. “She recorded all interviews and focus groups in Spanish and translated them into English when she returned to the States, after which she analyzed the data and wrote up her findings.”

At the College’s recent Honors Convocation, Becca received the award for outstanding work in Spanish.

A cum laude graduate, Sarah also made news in the final week of her college career. She was one of the first Monmouth students to complete the requirements for Global Public Health Triad – a new minor that integrates the disciplines of kinesiology, modern languages and psychology. Global Public Health develops students’ knowledge of a variety of approaches to understanding and improving health, from an individual level to an international level.

Global Public Health students participate in either an internship or study-abroad program focused on health, either of which deepens their understanding of specific issues and also provide preparation for a career or graduate school.

“I’m interested in going into health care,” said Sarah, who had a study-abroad experience in Mérida, Mexico, and received the David Carothers Allison Prize for being the outstanding senior biology major. “I realized I had a lot of the courses for it already, and I only had to add two more classes. It ended up working out really well.”

Becca also made mid-college changes to her academic path, switching from her intended major of communication studies or public relations.

“Coming into college, I knew I didn’t want to be a ‘decided’ student,” she said. “That’s one reason I chose Monmouth – I was looking for a college that had good advisers who could steer me in what might be the right direction for me.”

The advice for Mills to switch to sociology/anthropology came not from a faculty member, but from staff member Stephanie Kinkaid, who was working in the College’s Wackerle Career and Leadership Center at the time.

“I also knew I wanted to participate in a lot of activities,” said Becca. “I wanted to take part in theatre and band but not necessarily be in the theatre or music programs. Monmouth is a great place for that. Plus, it’s just a really pretty campus. It really clicked me with on my visit.”

That’s something on which Becca and Sarah can both agree.

“It’s just the people,” said Sarah. “Everyone felt so genuine. I felt like I belonged here.”