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High school twins show Badger spirit on ‘Today Show’

June 2, 2023 By Seth Kruger
A screen shot from a TV show three women in one square, and a host of young adults in another square, talking.

“Today Show” hosts, from left, Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager, interview the twins from Vernon Hills, Illinois. David and Jacob Wang can be seen in their Badgers sweatshirts.

As a part of a graduating class with 11 other sets of twins at Vernon Hills High School in Illinois, David and Jacob Wang grabbed their five minutes of fame on NBC’s “Today Show” in an interview aired on May 30.

The identical twin brothers sat with six of the other sets, as well as their principal, and discussed past and future with the television show hosts. One thing that stood out, though, were their matching outfits. Brown shoes, khaki pants and a big Bucky Badger on their hoodies. 

The brothers will be sticking side by side for another step in their lives. They plan to start their careers as undergraduate students at UW–Madison in the fall of 2023. While they won’t be ending up at different schools for the first time, they didn’t exactly plan to stick together, either.

Two young man dressed in suits stand with a University of Wisconsin pennant between them.

Jacob and David Wang pictured with a Badger banner on the “Today Show.”

“We toured all the same places and got all the same recommendations from friends and family, so we had a very similar list to draw from,” David said. “Even so, we reached the decision to specifically choose UW–Madison independently of one another. Either of us still would have gone [to UW–Madison] even if the other chose not to.”

“We didn’t go into the college selection process hoping to go to the same school. It was something to consider, but would definitely not be a make or break factor,” added Jacob. “Essentially, we ended up going to Madison independently of one another, but being twins definitely contributed to it simply by virtue of having similar interests and preferences.”

One big factor for both of them was the UW–Madison campus.

“I decided to apply to UW–Madison because of the strong engineering programs and amazing campus. The deciding factor was the campus,” Jacob said.

“I chose UW–Madison over one of my other schools because I like the campus more … I want to be in a big school with lots to do,” said David, who hopes to study computer science.

Even though the brothers are living just minutes away from each other in the fall, life will certainly be different than what they’ve been used to living for the past 18 years. For one thing, they won’t be living together.

“I’ve already roomed with my brother for 18 years now, and I want to meet new people in college,” David said. “It’s nice to have him nearby, but college is a time for us to expand and develop ourselves individually, and I think that rooming together would just be like reliving old experiences.”

To both of the brothers, college seems like the perfect place to expand their boundaries beyond their family walls.

“During our childhood, our social circles tended to overlap a lot. Anyone who met one of us was bound to meet the other at some point,” Jacob said. “That might not be the case as much in college because we most likely will be in different dorms and classes most of the time.”

Still, there’s nothing like family. The twins know that, even in the whirlwind of college life, they will still be able to keep each other in the balance of their social and school lives.

“We’ll probably still have a lot of mutual friends,” David said. “Since we are doing different majors — computer science and engineering — we’ll be in different classes.”

“I am sure we will continue to stay close during college. We will probably have a few courses together and play sports and games,” Jacob added.

The twins have split feelings about their individuality when it comes to the next four years at school.

“I’ve never really minded whether or not people see us as individuals, nor when people mix up our names,” Jacob said. 

David, on the other hand, doesn’t like when people lump twins together.

“In truth, lots of twins are completely different, and it can feel frustrating when your personal identity gets overshadowed by your shared identity that people impose on you,” he said.

“It doesn’t bother us when we get mistaken for each other (no twin I have ever met gets angered by this), but rather it’s the way that your identities become one heaped generalization instead of remaining unique and separate in the eyes of others,” David said.

That motivates him to define himself, and express his uniqueness.

The brothers agree that having a built-in brother, friend, teammate and more yields positive results.

Having a twin means that you usually have somebody to do something with, whether it’s sports, video games, or whatever,” David said. 

Being a twin means you always have a friend, as well as a relatively equal opponent, which makes it easy to pick up and play games or sports. I don’t see any negatives to it,” Jacob added.

Tags: student life