9 a.m. Saturday, College of Arts & Science and College of Engineering & Computer Science;
1 p.m. Saturday, College of Business and College of Health, Education & Professional Studies; both in McKenzie Arena
Kiyanna Crutcher: Organized. Kind of low-key. Always on time.
Kimiil Crutcher: Not quite as organized. “Low-key” not even in her vocabulary. As for being on time:
“The queen can never be late; everyone else is simply early,” she insists as she tosses back her maroon-tinted hair in mock-diva fashion.
The two sisters, born 17 months apart — a fact they say in harmonic unison when asked — are both graduating at 9 a.m. Saturday, Kiyanna with a degree in communications; Kimiil with one in general biology and a minor in psychology.
By earning a UTC diploma, they’re following something of a family tradition. Their mother, Kimolin Crutcher, graduated from here in 1990 with a degree in broadcast communications.
“It’s awesome that the school that I went to has even more meaning for them,” Kimolin says. “I didn’t think that it would have that same effect on them. It takes my breath away when I think how they found a home there.”
For Kiyanna, “it’s like a legacy almost.”
“Parents dream of this,” Kimiil adds. “Your two children are graduating from the same college at the same time and the same year. It’s two accomplishments, a double whammy.”
Their mother says UTC beckoned her daughters with the “Goldilocks effect.”
“It’s not small, not too far, not too close. It was just right.”
The two sisters are quite the tag team in person. Kimiil, 23, is a living can of Red Bull. Waterfalls of words pour forth; hands are always moving, clapping, waving, touching. Sometimes she bounces as she sits.
Kiyanna, 21, is more anchored. Not shy, she can be just as talkative as Kimiil, but she tends to stay in the background, giving her sister the spotlight, perhaps having learned long ago that it’s simply easier that way.
“I need my own reality TV show,” Kimiil says.
Kiyanna describes her sister as “almost like a firecracker. She’s very bubbly … that’s the word.”
As for herself, Kiyanna says she’s “the person in back with the sunglasses on, looking at everything.”
“She’s too cool,” Kimiil quickly adds. “She’s hilarious; she’s a goofball.” — “I like it,” Kiyanna pops in — “She’s determined. She organized. She’s the most organized of the two of us.”
Raised in Gallatin, Tenn., both arrived at UTC in the fall of 2013. Kiyanna was a freshman but Kimiil already had spent a year at the University of Tennessee. It didn’t work out.
“It was so big,” she says.
UTC not only had the smaller campus and classrooms she craved, it also had her sister.
“For us to be together and be fine and be each other’s backbone and stuff …,” Kimiil says.
Even so, they haven’t lived in the same room in campus housing until this year.
“I kind of tried to fight it. It’s like living at home,” Kiyanna says.
But now that they’re in the same room in Stophel Apartments, both admit the setup is far more convenient.
“She lived down the hall last year and I’d always have to run down the hall to tell her something,” Kiyanna says.
“I would have to get out of my bed when now I can just yell,” Kimiil explains.
However, living together or not, “we go everywhere together,” she says.
“We’re conjoined at the hip,” Kiyanna admits.
Facing the future
Diploma in hand, Kimiil plans to go to medical school to be a pediatrician; Kiyanna’s not sure what’s in her future, except traveling. She plans to go to Europe and also wants to have a cross-country adventure. After that, graduate school is probably in the picture, she just doesn’t know where.
“I wonder if something will spark my interest while I’m out in the world,” she says.
If nothing grabs her attention, she’ll probably move back into the family home and figure out what she wants to do.
“I feel like traveling is going to empty my pockets, so I’m going to need Mom and Dad to keep me up, fed and clothed and all that good stuff,” she says, only half-joking — or maybe not joking at all.
Kimiil, on the other hand, has a more forceful and instantaneous answer when asked if she’s moving back home.
She hopes to attend Meharry Medical School in Nashville and live in her own place. But …
“I’ll be close enough to home where, if they wanted to drop off some groceries or something …”
Photo credit: Kimiil and Kiyanna graduation photos taken by Quentin Payne