Seeing double

May 21st, 2014

Austin and Patrick Hodges

The two top-ranking students in the Class of 2014 have more in common than strong study prowess.

It could have something to do with their DNA. Patrick and Austin Hodges, No. 1 and No. 2 in this year’s graduating dental class, are identical twins. It doesn’t take much digging to figure out it’s not the first time these two have demonstrated a penchant for academics.

Graduation from  Tascosa High School in Amarillo, Texas, a class of 483 students, landed Patrick and Austin Hodges at No. 3 and No. 5 in their class, respectively. Both majored in biomedical sciences at Texas A&M University. Both graduated with a 4.0 GPA.

They’re the first members of their family to pursue dentistry. And in July, they start the Graduate Orthodontic Program at Texas A&M Baylor College of Dentistry.

“If you ask anyone, it is obvious that Austin and I have a friendly competitiveness between us,” says Patrick Hodges. “This has definitely helped us to do as well as one another in school and many other things, whether it’s sports, board games or cards.”

Many summer days after their first year in dental school were spent playing tennis, often with classmate Anne Lindley. It didn’t take long for them to commit to the sport with the same intensity as every other task.

“They decided they were going to go all in,” says Lindley. “They had matching tennis racquets, matching court shoes. They ended up copying each other. One couldn’t not do it.”

Studying is a different matter. The two — roommates since college — retreat into separate rooms, taking breaks only to ask each other questions about the material.

“When they study, they’re focused,” says Lindley. “No one can go over there and study with them. I’ll text both of them and ask questions.”

Back on campus, other classmates and faculty alike seek the twins for their input.

“They are smart, naturally, but they have two brilliant minds to collaborate,” says Lindley. “They help students in our class all the time. They go above and beyond for other people.”

Dr. Robert Spears, professor in biomedical sciences, taught the brothers during their first year and has worked with them on several occasions since.

“Every year someone is going to be top of the class, second of the class, but what distinguishes them is they work really hard, and they’re just innately talented as well,” says Spears. “Both of those young men help everybody. It’s almost like they’re instructors in the class — they’re that good, that knowledgeable.”

Dr. Amp Miller, professor in restorative sciences, taught the brothers fixed prosthodontics during clinical labs and now turns to them as a resource.

“I always have had a high regard for their perception of things and the way they approach the whole educational process,” says Miller.

The twins have had some time to soak in the news of their class rank. They picked up their official letters from the registrar’s office in summer 2013. Austin Hodges, No. 2 in the graduating class, was thrilled, especially considering the B+ he made during one course his second year.

The news likely didn’t come as much of a shock to the brothers’ parents, who promptly took their sons to a celebratory steak dinner.

“Our parents have always supported us and have been our biggest fans throughout our academic career,” Austin Hodges says.

In three years’ time, that academic career will conclude with an orthodontics certificate in hand and — from the looks of it — the continuation of another joint venture. Will Amarillo soon have a Hodges & Hodges Orthodontics? Time will tell.

 —Jenny Fuentes

— Carolyn Cox