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‘Born to be a Bear’

Twins follow in parents’ footsteps on campus

Kelsey and Elisabeth Sweeney’s earliest memories of Bridgewater State come from family car rides when their parents drove through campus to reminisce about their meeting in Shea-Durgin Residence Hall.

The Sweeney twins didn’t realize they would one day also call Shea-Durgin home, but they knew there was something special about Bridgewater.

“I always say, ‘I was born to be a Bear,’” Kelsey said.

The Sweeney family’s connection to BSU began in the late 1980s, when parents Michelle, ’91, and Larry met through friends on campus. Three decades later, their daughters are on the verge of earning their own BSU degrees next month.

“I’m so proud of them and what they’ve accomplished,” Michelle said. “It’s been really nice to go through this all over again. You wish you were back in college.”

Michelle and Larry’s relationship grew and persisted even when Larry left school to serve in the military and later work in IT.

“One of the most important things that you learn in college, especially living there, is how to get along with people who are different than you,” Larry said of what he took away from Bridgewater.

Michelle earned a social work degree and pursued a varied career that included human resources work and numerous roles within the Marshfield Public Schools. No matter the job title, she relied on her ability to help others, a skill honed in social work classes.

“I felt like Bridgewater really prepared you to go out into the real world,” she said. “It’s one of the reasons I wanted Kelsey to go to Bridgewater.”

The Sweeney family stands next to each other at Elisabeth's cross country meet.

Kelsey discovered that benefit as a social work major herself. Having excelled at an internship at the Boys and Girls Club in Brockton, she landed a post-graduation job running a mental health program at the club’s Marshfield location. She’s also going to pursue a master’s degree in social work from BSU.

Outside of the classroom, Kelsey followed her mom into Greek life: Michelle helped found Bridgewater’s Phi Sigma Sigma chapter while Kelsey joined Gamma Phi Beta.

“You can find a community anywhere in Bridgewater, and that instantly created a new home for me,” Kelsey said. “The sense of community on campus is what draws me here.”

It also attracted her sister to BSU as a transfer student. Elisabeth initially went to school in Boston, but she had to live alone in a dorm room due to the pandemic. Seeking companionship, Elisabeth often FaceTimed Kelsey, who had a roommate at BSU and introduced her sister to her college friends.

“We tried to go our own different paths, but we love doing things together,” said Elisabeth, a communication studies major minoring in film and digital media. “We both push each other to strive to be our best every day.”

Elisabeth, who is on the cross country and track teams, is also a member of Gamma Phi Beta. Like her sister, she studied abroad multiple times in Europe.

Elisabeth is moving to Italy after graduation to work in marketing for a travel agency – a connection built through a semester abroad in the country.

While an ocean will soon separate the twins, there’s one place that will always bring the Sweeney family together: BSU.

“It’s nice to have a second home for all of us,” Kelsey said.

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