Sisters Kimberly Jefferson and Gail Fontenette not only finish each other’s sentences, they even finish school together, despite being born nine years apart.
“The sisters,” as they’re called by their peers, graduated with honors from South Louisiana Community College on Thursday in general studies — two of 458 students recognized during SLCC’s graduation ceremony Thursday at the Cajundome.
Scott Angelle, a state public service commissioner and a Republican candidate in the upcoming governor’s race, served as the keynote speaker.
Their graduation doesn’t mark the end of the two sisters’ education. They’ll transfer together to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to study secondary education this fall.
Fontenette, 20, notes there are benefits to going to school with a sister.
“You always have a study partner,” she said. “The subjects I’m lacking, she usually helps out in. And the subjects she’s lacking, I usually help her out with. So it’s a win-win.”
“That’s probably why our grades look the way they do,” Jefferson, 29, chimed in with a laugh.
In addition to studying together, they schedule every class together and sit next to each other.
“If we can’t take our classes together, we just don’t worry about that class until next semester,” Fontenette said.
The pair originally planned to take the courses required to teach at the elementary school level. But they shifted to secondary education after a conversation with one of their instructors about the changing curriculum for primary education.
Jefferson and Fontenette both want to teach English.
“In the education field, you always have to learn new things in order to teach,” Jefferson said. “I just think that nowadays you need more teachers, teachers that actually want to teach.”
Jefferson started her college career in fall 2005 but had to put her plans on hold after the hospitalization of her 8-month-old daughter, Mya, for seizures.
“She was my first priority at the time,” Jefferson said.
In 2012, when all four of her children were enrolled in school, Jefferson had the opportunity to return to school. Coincidentally, it was also the time when Fontenette had just started college.
Fontenette said it was her strong determination to make something of herself that has kept her focused on school work.
“I’m determined to do something for myself and to better myself,” Fontenette said.
She said she currently works at a fast-food restaurant and is eager to put that chapter of her early working life behind her.
“Every day I go into work and I say, ‘Oh, my God. Two more years, I’m almost out that door,’ ” Fontenette commented.
Jefferson said she’s excited about meeting new people in the fall, when she continues with the next phase of her education at UL-Lafayette.
The sisters agreed they would probably part ways when they start job hunting and won’t apply for the same position.
Fontenette said she intends to apply for teaching slots wherever she can, while Jefferson expressed interest in working with underprivileged children.
“A low-privilege school — that’s where I really want to work,” Jefferson said. “A lot of teachers don’t want to work in certain areas, but I wouldn’t mind. Every child needs an education.”