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Brothers prepare to graduate together

Jan 30, 2020
Two men in suits pose for a portrait
Two men in suits pose for a portrait

KOKOMO, Ind. – For most of their lives, brothers Ely and Henly Page have done things together.

Since they were about 10 years old, they’ve worked as a team in jobs including farmhand, construction, logging, landscaping, roofing, and more. As two of eight kids in their family, they graduated together from home school. Both earned their third degree black belts in karate and have taught younger students.

And in May, the brothers will cross the stage at Indiana University Kokomo’s Commencement, graduating together.

After that, the Kokomo residents’ paths will diverge, with Henly considering law school and Ely applying for a year-long fellowship in state government.

Both said it will feel strange to not spend most of their time together.

“We’re brothers, and we work and get along,” said Henly. “It makes things fun. It will be weird going into the workforce without him, and missing that bond of working together.”

After graduating from their high school program, neither brother had a career path in mind, so they enrolled in community college to take general education classes before transferring to IU Kokomo.

Both chose history and political science as a major — with Ely more interested in the political science side, and Henly focused on history. Even with varied interests, they took many of the same classes — though not always at the same time.

If one brother took a class the other took later, he could share inside tips on what to expect.

“We live in the same house, we’re studying the same stuff,” said Ely. “You have a study partner who is in there taking the same classes. You can talk back and forth about things.”

Henly noted that their mother was their English teacher before college, giving them one more person to read over papers before they turned them in.

“Having all these people holds you accountable,” he said. “I’ve read almost every paper he’s ever submitted, and he does the same for me. You pretty much live with your editor. It’s fun to watch each other improve.”

While faculty members often think they are twins, Henly is 18 months older than Ely. Their mother started homeschooling them at the same time, giving Ely an early start, and they’ve been learning together ever since then. However, their classmates usually don’t know they are brothers, and when they find out, say they don’t look alike.

This year, a third Page has joined them on campus, sister Ava enrolled as a New Media, Art, and Technology major. Ely and Henly tried to convince her to enroll in one of their history classes, “just to mess with the professor,” they joked, but she preferred her art classes. They’ve enjoyed sharing their experiences and advice with her, to help her start college on the right foot.

Studying history and political science has helped both of them become participants, rather than observers, in discussion. They’ve had to present pros and cons on big topics such as civil rights, which taught them to consider both sides of issues.

“It’s forced us to come out of our shells,” Henly said. “We like to sit back and listen. Being here, in our classes, has pushed us to really articulate and argue our beliefs. The professors help us look at issues on both sides, and do a good job exposing us to that kind of experience.”

Ely said faculty do a good job maintaining respectful dialogue about controversial issues.

“I want to listen enough to be able to consider the sides, and figure out what I believe, and why,” he said.

Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.

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