Jordan and McKenley next to the Knight Statue in the Quad

Great Grads

Diploma double take: Identical twins graduate from Bellarmine together

Great Grads 2022

For McKenley Butler and Jordan Butler, together is the best way to be.

They aren’t just identical twins, they’re inseparable best friends who tackle life as a team.  

They grew up doing everything together and knew they’d go to college together, too. This May, they’ll graduate together – with the same majors – with plans to attend law school and dreams of someday practicing law together, too.

“We get the most accomplished when we work together,” Jordan said.

The two grew up in Louisville’s Lyndon neighborhood and attended Ballard High School. They’ve always shared the same friends and interests. It was never a question whether they’d attend college together. 

“We’ve been best friends, always,” McKenley said.

They chose Bellarmine because of the university’s small class sizes, strong academic focus and generous financial aid. They both received need-based and academic scholarships and will graduate debt-free. 

They lived together on campus and then commuted from their mom’s house. Initially, McKenley was a Psychology major and Jordan was a Political Science major.

“But we were both interested in each other’s majors,” Jordan said.

Their interests were partly informed by watching their parents settle a difficult divorce in the court system. 

“Also, being biracial has shaped a lot of what we do and are interested in, just paying attention to differing perspectives, having different sets of families. It makes you want to figure things out,” McKenley said.

So, they picked up each other’s majors, becoming double majors. McKenley also added a minor in African and African American Diaspora Studies (AAADS), which helped her feel more grounded at Bellarmine, a predominately white institution, she said.

 

Butler twins walking through the Quad

 

They got involved with the Office of Identity and Inclusion, the Black Student Union and a Women of Color support group through the Counseling Center. As first-year students, they took an impactful trip to Selma, Alabama, that focused on racial injustice. 

Most of their classes have been together—so much so that professors would react with surprise if they had a class with only one of them enrolled.

“We study together, but a few times we did have classes apart, which proves we can do it alone. But doing it together is so much better for us,” Jordan said.

That approach came in handy when it was time to study for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). They spent about six hours a day together last summer studying, going over practice tests and quizzing each other.

“If you can make that experience good, you know you have a good thing. We were able to make studying for the LSAT fun in some crazy way,” Jordan said.

They were both accepted to the University of Louisville School of Law. They’re not sure yet what type of law they’ll study but they’ve talked about starting a practice together someday. They said they feel ready for law school.

“I definitely feel prepared by my time at Bellarmine,” McKenley said. “Bellarmine gave us the tools to have law school as an option. We knew from the beginning that this is a school that prepares you for next steps.”

Jordan said relationships with professors have meant a lot to them.

“The impact of our professors on us was a huge part of our story,” she said. “We’ve met some literally amazing professors. Professors have been very supportive of our interests and gone out of their way to make sure we felt comfortable, heard and challenged at the same time.”

McKenley said overall, their college experience has been what they hoped it would be, even if much of it took place during the COVID pandemic.

“For me, it’s been a good experience,” she said. “I feel very blessed to have been able to come here.”

Tags: Great Grads , Political Science , Psychology , Social Justice

About Bellarmine University

Bellarmine University is a vibrant community of educational excellence and ethical awareness that consistently ranks among the nation’s best colleges and universities. Our students pursue an education based in the liberal arts – and in the distinguished, inclusive Catholic tradition of educational excellence, the oldest and most rewarding in the western world. It is a lifelong education, worthy of the university’s namesake, Saint Robert Bellarmine, and of his invitation to each of us to learn and live In Veritatis Amore – in the love of all that is beautiful, true and good in life.