Twice as Smart, Twice as Fortunate

Tujunga twins Arthur and Artin Kasumyan begin a new future at Yale

By Edward Rivera, News Editor

Lest one think that the future belongs to short-sighted millennials who understand nothing past the reach of their own noses (and cell phones), enter twin brothers Arthur and Artin Kasumyan of Tujunga.

The 2016 graduates of Verdugo Hills High School have been accepted to prestigious Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. How prestigious? A short list of graduates reveals such notable alumni as former US presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; presidential candidate Hillary Clinton; actors James Franco, Jodie Foster, and Meryl Streep; CNN host Anderson Cooper; and former Secretary of State John Kerry. A longer list would also include hundreds of current and former US officials, a host of Nobel Prize winners, dozens of Pulitzer Prize winners, and, well, you get the idea.

Both brothers applied to a number of other equally prestigious schools, from UCLA and UC Berkeley to all the Ivy League schools (“Except Columbia,” laughed Artin, explaining, “We ran out of time”). The twins actually began classes this summer at Yale, attending seminars designed for public school students and meeting students from all over the world.

“It was a bit of a culture shock, but it wasn’t that bad,” said Arthur in an afternoon chat, sitting with us over a cup of coffee, joined by Artin.

“We were there in March,” Arthur recalled, “and so we were used to the campus. But I think, in September, when the semester actually starts, that will really be the culture shock.”

Both brothers also will share similar majors—mechanical engineering and computer science—but as Arthur said, “Most college students end up changing their majors.” And both tend to see themselves as mechanical engineers, in any case, raised as they were by a mechanical engineer, their father.

Also, as Artin admits, both had been prepped for college from an early age.

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“Since we were young, we tried to be the best in our classes, “ he explained. “We always tried to get the best grades in school, and tried to get straight A’s. And I think our goals really focused in the 9th or 10th grade, as we started to look at the kind of colleges we wanted to go to. We thought about UCLA, since it was close to home, but we also thought about Ivy League colleges, but we knew they had a very small acceptance rate. So we thought those might be a long shot. And I think our parents would have been happy if we had chosen UCLA,” he laughed.

Added Arthur, “Our counselors told us, `You’re going to be rejected by every college you don’t apply to.’”

And this wouldn’t be a feel-good, local-boys-make-good story if, at this point, one or both of the brothers didn’t talk about the support they received from their parents and their teachers as they formulated their educational and career goals.

“Our parents always told us,” said Arthur, `Make sure you aim for the highest goal you can think of, so they really supported us, just like everyone at Verdugo [High] really supported us. We have a lot of teachers there that helped us along the way, like Ms. Manaka, our math teacher. Her son was actually our admissions counselor at UCLA, and they both helped us throughout the process.”

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Both Arthur and Artin have nothing but good things to say about Verdugo Hills High School as well—certainly an underrated public school, if there ever was one. While Verdugo principal Arturo Barcenas coincidentally mentioned the brothers in a Foothill Record interview last month, the twins alone stand as living testaments to the power of hard work and focus.

But in case anyone thinks that it necessarily takes every breathing moment of your life to apply to and enter a quality university, consider this: Between both brothers, and since grade school, there has been only one B grade, and at the same time, both brothers revealed that they perhaps spend only one hour of extra academic time a day, leaving them plenty of time to pursue their other love, basketball. Both played for Verdugo and local Armenian teams.

Indeed, academic success seems to run in the family, as an older brother, another Verdugo alum, prepares to transfer to a university, and one more younger brother is making his way through high school with his eye on college.

So what do we learn from this? We learn that beyond the basic platitude that hard work and focus pays off, supportive parents are a huge part of a student’s success. Add to that a school that cares for its students, and a community that supports its schools, and you have the recipe for a successful future.


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