Twins’ Graduation Interrupts Lifelong Bond

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Graduating seniors David and Mark Owens have been virtually inseparable most of their lives.

The fraternal twins from Fayetteville, Ga., have lived, studied and played together through childhood and four years as Columbus State University music performance majors, honors students and Servant Leadership scholars.

From sharing textbooks to tossing the Frisbee during leisure moments carved away from an intensive academic and extracurricular regimen, “we’ve done just about everything together,” David said.

David and Mark Owens“But that doesn’t mean we always like each other,” laughed Mark.

They agree that a competitive edge to their bond has helped push them both toward earning perfect GPAs and CSU’s Phi Kappa Phi Senior Award this spring.

But as both graduate summa cum laude on Saturday, May 16, they prepare to part ways for the first time.

While Mark, a horn player, pursues a master’s degree in recording arts and technologies from Middle Tennessee State University, David, a percussionist, will attend the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., to pursue a master’s degree in Biblical and theological studies.

The Owenses will be part of a 3 p.m. ceremony in the Lumpkin Center that includes degree recipients representing University College plus the colleges of education and arts and letters. The speaker will be Susan Herbst, executive vice chancellor for the University System of Georgia. During a 10 a.m. ceremony, Fort Benning’s commander, Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero, will address graduates of the College of Science and Turner College of Business.

“We’ll be separated for the first time ever,” said David, referring to post-graduation plans.

“But we may end up working together,” added Mark, who plans a career as an audio-visual technician in large-church settings, while David pursues preaching and possibly establishing new evangelical churches in the Northeast, where he recently visited several graduate schools.

Such an arrangement — David, a highly visible leader, with Mark a skillful, behind-the-scenes specialist —would parallel the twins’ recent extracurricular activities at CSU. David, for example was Student Government Association president and Mark immersed himself in CSU Wind Ensemble recording projects.

The RiverCenter recording sessions involved backing world-renowned artists such as John Bruce Yeh for a forthcoming “Synergy” CD and Joseph Alessi on his 2008 Grammy-nominated “Visions.” The sessions, said Mark, were “meticulous and grueling — 6-7 hours a day, every day — for weeks at a time,” he said. “But it was a great experience… It’s a unique, tangible opportunity for students at CSU.”

Both Mark and David said the Schwob School of Music’s first-class facilities and faculty factored greatly in their choosing CSU over several larger schools four years ago.

In addition to excelling in music performance, the brothers took advantage of study abroad opportunities in the Bahamas and Paris and engaged in community service. This spring,both participated in a Servant Leadership senior project for Columbus’ Azalea Trace Nursing Center, involving landscaping and transcribing residents’ oral histories.

David also developed, and gained approval for, an honors program-supported independent study project, though which he and classmate Chris Butler studied last summer under internationally respected percussionists in Orlando, Kansas City and Atlanta. “I’ve had a satisfying four years,” David said. “Most important to me are the close friends I’ve made among my classmates and professors.”

The Owenses both say they look forward to their parents, Steve and Jane, plus sisters Christina (an elementary school teacher) and Rebecca (a high school sophomore) arriving from Fayetteville for Saturday’s ceremony. A third sister, Sheryl, will be traveling from Louisville, where her husband will graduate a day earlier from the seminary David plans to attend in the fall. Additionally, their grandparents will join the celebration from Amarillo, Texas.

Before separately resuming graduate studies, they plan to conduct private music lessons and perform as backing musicians for Billy Buchanan’s Atlanta-based “The Worship Experience” tour, traveling to Kansas City, Myrtle Beach and Laguna Beach through much of June and July.

There’s no slowing down,” David said. “I can’t live like that.”

For more information about Columbus State’s graduation ceremonies, go to http://graduation.colstate.edu.