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Hitting the jackpot: Duke undergraduates who have been living together for four years

<p>Clockwise from top left: Kit Devine and Evi Alexopoulos; Anabel Thurman and Isabel Senior; Blaire Rikard and Andie Carroll; Gustavo Andrade and Jose Ortega. Not pictured: Heesu Park and Allison Wu. Design by Aaron Zhao.</p>

Clockwise from top left: Kit Devine and Evi Alexopoulos; Anabel Thurman and Isabel Senior; Blaire Rikard and Andie Carroll; Gustavo Andrade and Jose Ortega. Not pictured: Heesu Park and Allison Wu. Design by Aaron Zhao.

If choosing a college roommate is like buying a lottery ticket, then these students hit the jackpot.

For these five sets of roommates, a four-year roommate pairing defined a large part of their Duke experience. Here are the stories of Anabel and Isabel, Kit and Evi, Heesu and Allison, Blaire and Andie, and Gustavo and Jose.

Anabel Thurman and Isabel Senior

 Isabel Senior and Anabel Thurman.

Even before they became friends, seniors Anabel and Isabel had learned to live as roommates. During their Blue Devil Days, when high school seniors come to campus as they prepare to make their college decision, each went to visit a friend from high school. It happened that their hosts were best friends, so the group of four enjoyed meals together and navigated campus before Anabel and Isabel had even officially accepted their places at Duke. 

During this trip, Isabel’s friend had an upcoming midterm and needed to study, so “the ‘Bels” shared a twin-sized, deflated air mattress together as they reminisced about their first day on campus. 

The next morning, Isabel asked Anabel to become roommates with her should they both decide to become Blue Devils. Unbeknownst to Anabel, Anabel’s own mother had seen the strong bond between the pair and encouraged Isabel to prompt the idea. Thanks to that gentle push, Anabel came to Duke with the knowledge that she had secured a stellar roommate. 

Throughout the years, the ‘Bels have joined the same sorority, taken self-timer photos before they go out, bought each other snacks—including Anabel’s favorite, packets of honey—and made music videos. The two even bought matching bed sheets. On Valentine’s Day, the roommates made plans to spend time with each other, because this friendship epitomizes the best of any love story. 

“Some might have a best friend, and some might have someone they live really well with, but I have a best friend who is also the person I live with,” Anabel wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “I feel most comfortable and myself around Isabel.” 

Beyond these signs of genuine friendship is a deep, unshakable trust in one another. The two are simply grateful for one another’s presence, especially since they will soon leave the comfort of Duke for the real world. However, that change is unlikely to shake the ‘Bels’ bond. 

“Anabel is probably one of the people I know best in the world,” Isabel wrote in an email.“It's nice to know I always have someone at home who I can rely on.” 

Heesu Park and Allison Wu

The prospects of finding a college roommate was daunting. But for Heesu and Allison, they didn’t have to look beyond the music stand to find their future roommate. Having attended the same high school in Washington, D.C., both played cello and sat next to each other in the orchestra. The warm amicability between the two as well as the drive to make one another better proved to be the ideal basis for their college friendship. 

Knowing one another well before college lent itself to stability in the relationship. So although Heesu and Allison are part of different friend groups and spend time apart, they retain a close bond within the room. 

“It can be a little overwhelming to live with someone and hang out with them all the time, and that often gives rise to tension,” Heesu wrote.

Still, that space apart does not entail emotional separation, and the two still feel totally in sync four years later. The two have also grown to do the little things for each other, like leaving sticky notes of encouragement before an important day.

As an environment where “each person is able to confide in the other and talk about things she’s going through,” as Allison put it, their room has provided comfort and ability for emotional growth, a major component of each’s development through college. 

The Chronicle requested a photo of Heesu and Allison, but they did respond with one in time for publication.

Kit Devine and Evi Alexopoulos

Kit Devine and Evi Alexopoulos

With both growing up in Rye, New York, a town with about 16,000 inhabitants, one wouldn’t be shocked if seniors Kit and Evi had crossed paths before coming to Duke. However, different high schools and interests had led them to different paths. When both opted for random roommates as first-years, the last possibility on their mind was that their homes would be merely down the street from each other. 

The two quickly arranged plans at a local coffee shop to discuss the logistics of becoming roommates, yet something funny happened along the way—the two became friends. Over a shared passion for “Parks and Recreation” and an anticipation of the upcoming semester, they bonded. 

Through the first few weeks of school, when most are still searching for their friend group and may feel adrift at times, both Kit and Evi appreciated knowing the other’s habits and feeling comfortable with their living partner. 

“When Evi originally rushed sororities, I had a mini freak-out about finding a new roommate, but you can’t break this bond,” Kit wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “We just work super well together, and we’re lucky our living habits mesh so well on top of being amazing friends.”

But there was never any thought that the two would part ways. 

“I wouldn’t have it any other way... and I’m lucky that the person HRL randomly assigned me four years ago turned out to be one of my favorite people here,” Kit wrote.

As the two’s relationship progressed, certain activities cemented into their schedule, such as runs to Harris Teeter on Sunday afternoons. Additionally, the two have adopted vernacular in everyday speech, such as Kit’s embrace of Evi’s tendency to call friends “girl.” 

Especially since the two moved into an apartment, the kitchen table has served as the meeting point for conversations ranging from talks about their futures to delegating responsibilities and chores. This spot, “the place to vent about anything and everything,” as Evi terms it, has bolstered their friendship and provided a sense of comfort amidst their hectic schedules. 

Gustavo Andrade and Jose Ortega 

Jose Ortega and Gustavo Andrade. 

Sometimes, a flight delay and allergies are the ingredients to a great friendship. 

Just ask Gustavo, Pratt ‘19, and Jose, Trinity ‘19, who met at the Latino Student Recruitment Weekend before their first years on campus. As a harbinger of what was to come, the two were paired with the same host in the same room, yet Gustavo’s flight to Durham was delayed so that he arrived in the middle of the night. To make matters worse, his Uber dropped him off at the Bryan Center when he needed to be on East Campus. Unfortunately, Gustavo wasn’t familiar enough with the school to realize the difference, and an intense amount of pollen in the air was making him drowsy.

Eventually, Jose ventured out to West to gather Gustavo, even though he himself had been at Duke for all of one day. The two reached the dorm safely, but not without a great first memory. 

Over the next four years, Gustavo and Jose grew closer and closer. Shared Mexican-American heritage provided the initial context for their relationship, but soon they were participating in many of the same hobbies, from following the same workout patterns and attending the same parties to the more mundane, such as laundry runs and eating meals together while on synchronized sleep schedules. 

“We have the occasional discussion on who is doing dishes or taking out the trash tomorrow, but I can't remember a single time that Jose and I had an argument,” Gustavo wrote in an email to The Chronicle.  

After graduation, both Gustavo and Jose stayed in Durham and decided to room together for another year. Life may seem more unstable at times, with bills to pay and careers to pursue, but the consistency of a friendly face at home alleviates much of that stress. 

“It’s rare to have such a close relationship with a person, someone you never argue with and who shares so much in common with you,” Jose wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “I can’t separate my time at Duke without Gus popping in my head.” 

Blaire Rikard and Andie Carroll 

Blaire Rikard and Andie Carroll&nbsp;
Blaire Rikard and Andie Carroll 

When seniors Blaire and Andie first connected on Facebook and contemplated becoming roommates, the two wanted to meet in person before confirming either way. Blaire lives in South Carolina and Andie in Virginia, so they travelled a few hours to meet for dinner. Soon enough, despite their drastically different academic and professional interests, they saw in each other a kind, compassionate person who would make for a great roommate—and the decision was finalized. 

Even though the two are in different sororities, they eschewed living in section for the sake of staying together. While each had strong friend groups within their sororities, their bond as roommates was special.

This same logic has applied to study abroad, as each has elected to travel during summer months and school vacations so as not to disrupt the continuity. Most interesting is that the two have remained in the same physical room for the last three years.

Over the past four years, Blaire and Andie have made an intentional effort to be a part of one another’s lives. 

“It’s great to have time set aside each week to catch up with each other,” Blaire wrote in an email. Every Thursday evening, the two explore a restaurant in Durham, with Pizzeria Toro being a favorite. 

Although each grew up as an only child, they feel as though they have gained a sibling through what began as a nervous encounter. 

Andie put it best. “Although we don’t fight or steal clothes, I would definitely say she’s the sister I never had,” she wrote in an email. 


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