Graduating at the top of their graduation class was not at the forefront of Imrane and Mounira Oumarou Ba’s minds when they set out to complete their high school assignments.
Schoolwork for Imrane was checking off another thing on his “to-do” list, while Mounira said she wanted to make her parents proud. The fraternal twins moved from Niger, Africa, to Maryland in 2015. After getting over the language barrier, they quickly assimilated to the culture and now have accomplished their school’s highest accomplishments.
With some help from Prince George’s County ESOL program, they are now excelling academically. They graduated as valedictorian and salutatorian of Central High School on May 27.
The brother and sister told Atlanta Black Star they were both surprised when they were informed of the honor. Imrane graduated with a 4.5 GPA, and his twin had a 4.4 average.
“It’s very surreal for me because I really didn’t expect this much attention, and a lot of friends and people have contacted us as well and are like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that you were on top of your class,'” said Mounira, who is salutatorian. “I was like, ‘Yeah, me too.’ I’m surprised.”
The Oumarou Ba Twins are inseparable. Imrane, who is valedictorian, played soccer, lacrosse, and tennis, and ran track at Central High. Mounira couldn’t be on the soccer team with her brother, but she was the team’s sports manager. She also played girls soccer and tennis.
Even though having a twin can be overbearing at times, Mounira said it’s a relief to always have someone for support, especially when encountering new experiences.
The twins plan to attend Louisiana State University in the fall, where they may part ways just a little. Imrane, an avid Lionel Messi fan, plans to major in sports medicine, while his sister will study international relations and political science.
Mounira, the more outspoken of the two, wants to use her major to travel the world and make a difference. She is excited about meeting new people and exploring the world.
Wherever the pair ends up next, they plan to work hard and be humble as their parents have grounded them to do.
“They’re happy because that was the main goal [of moving to the U.S.] us succeeding,” but when it comes to the limelight, “they are firm believers in remaining humble doing what you need to do,” Imrane said.
He added that the most critical part of his journey was being adaptable and deliberate.
“Be kind to yourself. You don’t have to rush the process. Do what you need to do,” Imrane said. “Take it slow because I know even the college classes it seems — it is stressful planning all of these things, so sometimes you just got to step back a little bit, observe a few things, adapt to the changes and just rock with it.”