Brainiac Twins Earn Dual College Degrees (And They’re Only 16)

Twins Lynn and Paul Tran at work in the lab. Photo courtesy of University of North GeorgiaPaul and Lynn Tran are what you might call modern-day Doogie Howsers. The twins are on track to graduate this spring from the University of North Georgia with dual degrees in chemistry and biology. And they're just 16 years old.

What's more, as if graduating from college at such a young age isn't an impressive enough feat, the twins actually began their education not knowing any English. As preschoolers, the twins spoke only Vietnamese, their parents' native language, but were encouraged to learn math at an early age. After starting kindergarten, they mastered the basics and went on to skip second and fifth grade. While still attending Forsyth Central High in Cumming, Georgia they started taking classes at UNG.

Paul Tran credits their parents for inspiring them to succeed. “My father was a refugee,” he tells Yahoo Shine. “After the Vietnam War, he drove his boat to Thailand and eventually made it to America. We’re driven to do better because our parents had to sacrifice so much to come to the United States.”

According to Nancy Dalman, biology department head at UNG and the twins’ academic advisor, most college students take a maximum of 15 credits a semester, but Lynn and Paul are packing in 24 to 26 credit hours each. “They have to get special permission to take that many credits each semester and we wouldn’t approve it if they weren’t doing so well,” she tells Yahoo Shine. “They genuinely love doing science and they have a true thirst for knowledge.”

The twins wake up at 7 a.m. each day and are driven to campus by their parents. (While they both have their learner’s permits, they haven’t found time to take their driving tests just yet.) After a full day of classes, which includes inorganic chemistry and environmental microbiology, they put in a few hours at the research lab working on an independent project they conceived that focuses on antibiotic resistance in bacteria. At 6 p.m. the twins catch a ride home with their parents, eat dinner, do homework and, if they have time, watch a movie before falling into bed at 11 p.m. Despite the fact that the siblings spend more than 16 hours together each day, Paul says they rarely get on each other’s nerves. “We usually don’t get mad at each other for long,” he admits.

That good-natured manner is also reflected in their relationships on campus. “What surprised me is how comfortably they fit in with their fellow students,” says Dalman. “Lynn and Paul are so personable, friendly, and considerate. They are well-liked by the faculty and the other students ”

So, what’s next for the super successful siblings? According to Paul, they are applying to graduate schools that offer dual degree M.D. - Ph.D. programs. “These programs are very selective," he says, "but Lynn and I would like to go together if possible.”