We are so proud to talk about Bailey and Sidney Russell who are triple majors at CSUB and have shared their very personal story with us. You can read more about their hard work and passion at the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society.
Bailey and Sidney Russell finish each other’s sentences. They co-author fantasy fiction. They take the same classes. They share the same academic career goals. And they share the same genes. Twin sisters, together they lead their Alpha Chi chapter at California State University, Bakersfield.
Sidney is the California Iota chapter president and secretary. Bailey serves as vice president. “Basically, people on campus know that if it’s academic and it’s a club or honors society, go find the twins,” says Bailey.
“We are actually called ‘the twins’ on campus even though there are other twins here,” adds Sidney.
Both Russells also share a dream: to open a pediatric care practice for families who otherwise could not afford medical care. To the twins, it’s personal. For all their boundless ambition and early success, the sisters have also experienced tragedy beyond their years. Their own journey of healing now motivates their dream to serve others.
The loss of a brother. The disappearance of a father.
A gifted writer, their brother Nicholas committed suicide when the twins were just 13 years old. Their father, a soldier, often was stationed elsewhere. “Our Dad was always gone on military duty,” Sidney says, “but then he actually started just going away. After my brother died, he completely left.”
Nicholas, almost six years older than the twins, had assumed a role beyond just the older sibling. “Our brother was kind of a father figure to us,” says Sidney. “We didn’t realize this until after he died. So, it wasn’t just losing a brother, it was losing that male figure in our lives. I cried a lot,” she remembers.
Following the suicide, the family experienced more hardship. They moved into a relative’s house. They switched schools (“A lot of kids knew our brother had died, and we just didn’t want to face it.”). And they faced financial stress. “We went an entire year where we couldn’t get medical coverage,” says Bailey. For their mother, a Type 1 diabetic since the age of 12, this meant somehow scrounging up $800 a month for insulin— “And that’s with the discount for no insurance. That’s for something you need to live,” says Bailey. “It’s crazy it’s that expensive.”
A dream born out of medical necessity.
As they’ve grown up, the twins have faced their own share of medical problems. Together, they’ve sat in enough waiting rooms and examination rooms to draw their own conclusions about what makes for a good doctor and for a great bedside manner. It’s the good ones whose footsteps the twins seek to follow. “I want to be there to help the people the way that I was helped,” says Sidney.
Drawing from their own experiences, Bailey and Sidney have planned their futures to help other children who have suffered from a one-two combination of sickness and poverty. For their future medical clinic, they plan to re-shape the working model. “Free clinics are notorious for not having the best care,” says Sidney. They plan to pull doctors from across disciplines, including psychology, into one quality care clinic for children.
“We want to start a clinic right here in Bakersfield, with not only good care but medical testing in- house and a tiered payment system where the people who can pay help the people who cannot.” Of course, first they have to pursue their M.D. degrees and pass their boards. “This,” says Sidney, “is our eventual dream, working together at our own practice so we don’t have to get split up.”
Double the effort. Triple the work.
As if it’s not enough for the twins to double major, they are triple majoring in English, psychology and pre-med. With the mentorship of their chapter sponsor, Dr. Jacqueline Kegley, the twins have been able to pursue what, to many, would be a frenzied amount of learning in one semester. Going to bed after midnight and rising before six, they’ve managed to write short stories (they are co-authoring a fantasy novel), take a combined 16 courses, volunteer at the Writing Center, and learn Latin and ancient Greek on the side.
A community of support is key to fueling this type of academic pursuit, and the twins say Alpha Chi has become a pillar of their intellectual life. “Alpha Chi brings together this idea of an academic core,” says Sidney. “We come together to celebrate learning—and that’s not something you see every day.”
Alpha Chi has also opened doors for these small-town sisters from Wasco, CA. The 2017 National Conference in Louisville, KY was not only the twins’ first time outside California, but also their first time on a plane. In addition, the conference gave them their first opportunity to present their academic research to an audience of peer scholars.
(Article written by Dr. Jackie Kegley, March 2018)
California State University, Bakersfield’s student newspaper, its website, and its broadcast program received national and statewide recognition this past weekend at the annual Associated Collegiate Press Midwinter National Convention, held in Long Beach.
In the ACP’s Best of Show awards, CSUB won first place for best broadcast for its October 2017 edition of Runner News Network. That online broadcast led with the impact on the Bakersfield community of the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas.
Also in the Best of Show awards, The Runner newspaper won second place for best less-than-weekly newspaper for its Dec. 6, 2017 issue, which featured in-depth coverage of crime statistics at CSUB. The Runner prints every other week during the semester.
“Receiving such high national honors for our broadcast program and newspaper is a really big deal, especially since our broadcast program is only two years old,” said Jennifer Burger, journalism lecturer and adviser to The Runner at CSUB.
Also at the convention, the California College Media Association held its annual awards banquet, where The Runner won two statewide awards. The Runner Online won first place for best mobile website at therunneronline.com. Former Editor-in-Chief Esteban Ramirez also won an honorable mention for his story “Building a D-1 legacy,” which detailed the CSUB men’s basketball team’s journey to the national stage.
Now that CSUB has a student population of more than 10,000, this was the first year The Runner competed against large California schools in the CCMA contest. Burger serves as the VP of membership on the CCMA board.
“I’m proud of our staff for how hard they work to cover the news that’s important to CSUB,” Burger said. “As we continue to grow, we are looking to our sister news organizations at schools like UC Berkeley and San José State University for inspiration.”