Double Double Duos: Two Sets of Twins with Identical Degrees

Harkness and Desai twins double up on double majors
May 02, 2023
Annelise Allen ('25) | Marketing & Communications

Avani and Lily Desai and Brooke and Bailey Harkness are two sets of twins. They are also doubling up on their double majors: All four graduate this May with degrees in biology and dance. The Desai sisters hail from Bellevue, Washington, and the Harknesses are from Bellingham, Washington. Here’s what they have to say about how they fell into the dance and science worlds, as well as what their experience has been as twins studying the same topics.


Brooke & Bailey

What made you want to pursue both dance and science?
Brooke: I have known I wanted to enter the medical field since about fifth or sixth grade. Science, especially biology, has always come easily and has interested me. The medical field was solidified as a passion of mine when I spent much of my seventh- through ninth-grade years as a caregiver for my grandma, who was fighting pancreatic cancer. Her doctors’ intelligence, grace and compassion made the field something I wanted to pursue. As for dance, I liked dancing as a kid and through high school. I was put in a dance class my first semester freshman year and enjoyed it, and I continued to take classes to keep moving/breaking up my day with other classes. Eventually, the director of the dance program, Suzanne Ostersmith, suggested majoring, and I agreed.

Bailey: When I came to Gonzaga, I fully intended to do biology on the pre-medical track solely. My goal has always been to become a doctor. I decided to take an intro jazz course in the fall of freshman year for fun and to stay active. I got involved in the 60x60 and snowflake showcase and was folded into the dance program/club. During my sophomore year, Suzanne asked me to think about a dance minor seriously. We had an advising meeting, and we mapped out a second major in dance to see what it looked like. The double major was achievable, so I decided to do it. After almost completing my biology and dance degrees, I am considering an orthopedic path in medicine specializing in sports and dance injury. I am also collaborating with Dr. Brook Swanson and CarliAnn-Furthun Bruner on a research project explaining how collaboration between art and science is beneficial to developing new forms of thinking.

What is it like having your twin here and studying the same things?
Brooke: I like having a twin here. It made finding a roommate easy – though, the funny thing is, we took the roommate match test freshman year, and we had less than a fifty percent match even though we have lived together all our lives. One irritating thing is that some professors think of you as one person rather than two and never try to learn the difference, but some professors are great at it.

Bailey: I love having my twin here with me. We have always been close and call each other our built-in best friends. Knowing who your roommate will be each year has always been nice. We don't always study together because our schedules don't always align. Having a sister studying the same thing is helpful because we can review together and clarify topics when we get the chance.

What are your post-graduation plans?
Brooke: I will move home for about a year while applying to medical school and working as a scribe for one of the retina doctors near my house.

Bailey: My long-term post-grad goal is to pursue a career as a physician. I plan to publish my research collaboration article in the Journal of Dance Education and possibly a journal for Applied Animal Behavior and work as a medical scribe at one of the local clinics. My short-term post-grad plans are to return to my hometown to marry my high school sweetheart this coming July.

What is one of your favorite memories from the dance program?
Brooke: The freshman 60x60 dance. The music was the weirdest thing we had ever heard. It was like the sound you get when you pull a cord out of an amp, and we all wondered what we got ourselves into after hearing it. I remember the show being a little chaotic because it was our first 60X60 production and our first Gonzaga Dance production, but it was unique and fun. We even brought back the doughnut piece we participated in as seniors this year, which was a fun way to remember our freshman year.

Bailey: I have so many great memories from the dance program it is hard to pick just one. Many favorite moments have been in the dressing rooms before and during performances. Backstage, there is a ton of excitement and laughs, and it always feels like a big family. Another favorite experience was working with CarliAnn and the GURDC companies.


Avani & Lily

What made you want to pursue both dance and science?
Avani: Our parents are doctors, so I have always had somewhat of an interest in science and medicine. I also have a strong creative side, and dance and the arts have always been one of my passions; It brings me so much joy!

Lily: I always knew that I wanted to stick with my creative side and pursue dance or theater in college, even if that just meant getting a minor. Pursuing biology wasn’t something I had always planned; it was just something that seemed realistic. I felt as if I should focus on a more science aspect of study in college.

What is it like having your twin here and studying the same things?
Avani: It has been so fun getting to dance together these past few years and create together as well. It is also nice to study the same thing because then we get to collaborate.

Lily: It’s honestly nice – we get to work on assignments and projects together when needed and we can bounce ideas off each other and study together. We’re similar when it comes to hobbies and interests too!

What are your post-graduation plans?
Avani: I plan on going to Pratt in Brooklyn, New York, for a dance therapy master’s program.

Lily: I am also attending grad school in New York to get my master’s in dance and movement therapy. I would also love to continue dancing and doing theater while I am in New York.

What is one of your favorite memories from the dance program?
Avani: Meeting some of my best and forever friends and getting to dance together and share the stage with them is overall one of my favorite memories and is something that I will never forget. Another one of my favorite memories was getting to co-direct and produce the Musical Theater showcase and dance with my favorite people!

Lily: One of my favorite memories is the Musical Theater Dance Revue that we put on this January. It was such an amazing show, and we had the best time choreographing and dancing with our friends. It was a cool experience getting to be leaders throughout the process and being able to co-direct and produce the show made the experience even more personal.


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