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‘A built-in best friend’: Siblings at Brown describe admissions processes

Powell, sibling pairs talk admissions processes, experiences at Brown

When identical twins Kayla Mukai ’25 and Kelly Mukai ’25 applied to colleges, their processes were identical as well.

They applied to the same list of schools — and were accepted, waitlisted and rejected by the same schools.

“It was exactly the same,” Kelly Mukai added.

When applying to Brown, students must indicate whether they have a sibling applying during the same admissions cycle. Students can also indicate that they have a sibling already enrolled at an institution of higher education — at Brown or elsewhere.


“Every applicant is reviewed individually, holistically and contextually,” Logan Powell, associate provost for enrollment and dean of admission, said in an interview with The Herald. 

“We very often make separate decisions on twins in the applicant pool,” he added, explaining that the same is true for any number of siblings applying.

Powell added that there “is no legacy consideration for sibling applicants,” but noted that knowing when an applicant’s sibling already attends Brown is “helpful — it's interesting and we always take note of it.” 

“We try to balance the individual review that we do for every student with the impact on the family,” Powell said, acknowledging that potential family dynamics could arise due to differing decisions. “We pay very close attention to when those decisions are different … and we verify that those are the right outcomes.”

But despite their identical list of schools they were interested in, the Mukai twins were not set on going to school together. “It definitely wasn't set that we were gonna go to the same college,” Kelly Mukai said. “We were very open to going to different schools.”

Rebecca Ward-Diorio ’23 and Lily Ward-Diorio ’23 took an entirely different approach: Brown was the only school they applied to together.

“We actually did not intend to go to the same school,” Rebecca Ward-Diorio said. “That was never the plan.”

“We were really, really competitive in high school, so (applying to the same schools) was our biggest fear and probably why we didn't apply to more together,” Lily Ward-Diorio added.

Lily Ward-Diorio was named valedictorian of her high school, with Rebecca Ward-Diorio as salutatorian.

Powell emphasized that the applications of siblings are reviewed individually. “A student is going to move forward in the process or not based on the strength of their academic background, their extracurricular involvement and their ability to make positive contributions to the Brown community,” he said.


He also noted that “it’s quite different when siblings apply in different years because the applicant pool can change pretty dramatically.”

When decision day arrived, the Ward-Diorio twins opened their decisions separately, while the Mukai twins opened theirs together. 

“I came downstairs, and our mom freaked out,” Lily Ward-Diorio said. “We just celebrated for the rest of the night.”

Immediately, the Ward-Diorio twins knew that they would both attend Brown. They said to each other, “Well, if there are any challenges in going to the same school, we'll just figure it out,” Lily Ward-Diorio added.

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But the Mukai twins continued to entertain other options. “There was definitely a time in the process where we were really considering splitting apart,” Kayla Mukai said. Both twins were leaning toward other schools until they appealed their Brown financial aid packages to match the institutional aid they were offered by other schools.

As a need-blind school, Powell said that sibling enrollment in any college — which could increase the amount of aid awarded in some cases — “has no impact on our decision-making process.”

Since arriving at Brown, all four students have each carved out a place on campus apart from their siblings. Rebecca Ward-Diorio is studying marine biology, while Lily Ward-Diorio is concentrating in International and Public Affairs. 

“We have separate interests, so it wasn't really a problem,” Rebecca Ward-Diorio said — though after much wrangling, Rebecca convinced Lily to join her ultimate frisbee team.

Kelly Mukai spends much of her time studying engineering, while Kayla Mukai specializes in computer science. While they often hang out with the same group of friends, Kelly Mukai noted that “I hang out with my engineering friends.” 

“And I hang out with my CS friends,” Kayla Mukai added.

During their time together in Delta Gamma, an on-campus sorority, Kelly and Kayla Mukai have collaborated heavily on event planning and live, by random selection, in the same room in Goddard House. 

Reflecting on her and her sister’s undergraduate experience, Lily Ward-Diorio said that “Brown is big enough, and our interests are different enough, that it was a very individualistic experience.” 

“I really can't see us ending up in the same city after college,” Rebecca Ward-Diorio said. “Although that's what we thought about college, so we’ll see.”

The Mukai siblings shared a different outlook. “At the end of the day, I was happy to have a built-in best friend coming onto campus,” Kelly Mukai said.

Kayla Mukai agreed: “I'm just really grateful that we both got in.”

Owen Dahlkamp

Owen Dahlkamp is a Section Editor overseeing coverage for University News and Science & Research. Hailing from San Diego, CA, he is concentrating in political science and cognitive neuroscience with an interest in data analytics. In his free time, you can find him making spreadsheets at Dave’s Coffee.


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