Kristie and Kirstie Bronner, C’2013, have always done everything together — from dressing alike in elementary school to double dating in high school. On May 19, the music majors from Atlanta will graduate from Spelman College as co-valedictorians with perfect 4.0 GPAs.
“I definitely do not feel like I came to school perfect,” said Kirstie. “I always felt like a 4.0 student was a genius, and I didn’t think that I was a genius. I still don’t think I’m a genius. I’m a person who prays hard and works hard. That’s it.”
Extremely disciplined from high school, the Bronners found themselves spending the majority of their time studying during the early part of their Spelman career. They soon realized all of their studying was causing them to burnout.
“We were sick all the time because our immune system was so weak due to the stress,” said Kristie. “Then, we realized we had to enjoy the journey. You can’t be so focused on the destination that you don’t live day-to-day. We were living looking forward to all the breaks. Every morning we were like, ‘Christmas break is a coming. Christmas break is a coming.’ And then after Christmas it was, ‘Oh, Lord. OK, summer break is a coming. Summer break is a coming.’ It may sound like exaggeration, but that’s what we did.”
To create balance in their life, Kristie and Kirstie began scheduling time to hang out with friends and go to the movies on the weekend. This change helped them to stop looking forward to breaks and begin enjoying their college experience. “Every semester became more enjoyable, more manageable, more balanced and we became healthier,” explained Kristie.
While at Spelman, Kristie and Kirstie were active members of the Spelman College Glee Club. Kristie served as Glee Club chaplain and Soprano 2 section leader while Kirstie served as student conductor and Alto 1 and Alto 2 section leader. They also studied abroad in Italy and volunteered for community service projects sponsored by the College.
While Kristie and Kirstie have found inspiration in a number of the courses, they credit Juanchella G. Francis, Ph.D., psychology lecturer, with having a significant impact on the women they are becoming. “She has been an extremely impactful teacher and goes so far beyond academics,” Kirstie said. “She’s a perfect balance of a teacher who cares about their students and wants them to succeed and one who operates in excellence and professionalism.”
“Kirstie and Kristie were two of my top-performing students and an absolute joy to teach,” said Dr. Francis. “As God-fearing young ladies, they are full of joy and spiritually and emotionally mature. I am extremely proud of them and know that they will bless this world!”
Upon graduation, Kristie and Kirstie plan to work full-time in ministry. They will work as youth event coordinators at Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral, which is pastored by their father, the Rev. Dale C. Bronner. In this position, they will plan conferences and programming, serve as youth counselors and work with the youth choirs and praise and worship teams. Additionally, the twins plan to author a book, record the contemporary Christian music they’ve been writing, and continue speaking to youth and women at events and conferences.
“I definitely believe we will always be in ministry because it’s our passion. We have been doing ministry in some form our whole lives,” said Kirstie.
Kristie and Kirstie aren’t the first women in their family to conquer Spelman’s rigorous curriculum. Their mother, the Rev. Nina Cobb Bronner, graduated from Spelman in 1985, their aunt, Sheila Bronner is a member of the Class of 1986, and their grandmother, Dorothy Gibson Cobb, finished in 1956. Their father graduated from Morehouse College in 1984 where he finished as the top student in the field of religion.
With a 3.94 GPA, Shay Johnson will be the 2013 salutatorian. The political science/pre-law major and Spanish minor will be attending Harvard Law school this fall. “I want to pursue a career in international law, specifically developing policy concerning human rights and corporate social responsibility,” Johnson said. Johnson is looking forward to the upcoming Commencement activities. “I am always excited about any speaker that headlines a Spelman College event because each individual always has words of inspiration and wisdom that I can apply to my own life.”
Commencement 2013 activities will begin Friday, May 17, with Class Day Convocation where Kristie and Kirstie will provide the annual Ivy Oration. Convocation will take place at 1:30 p.m., in Sisters Chapel. On Saturday, May 18, Mercy Amba Oduyoye, Ph.D., director of the Institute of Women in Religion and Culture at Trinity Theological Seminary in Ghana, will serve as baccalaureate speaker.
Baccalaureate will take place at 9:30 a.m. on the Spelman College Oval. “America’s Doctor” Regina Benjamin, M.D., U.S. Surgeon General, will deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree Sunday, May 19, at 3 p.m. at the Georgia International Convention Center. Other honorary degree recipients will be Freeman Hrabowski, III, president of University of Maryland, and Harriet Mitchell Murphy, C’49, a retired Texas judge. Civil rights advocate Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery will receive the national community service award. – Kia Smith, C’2004, is social media coordinator for the Office of Communications.