Hannah Drazenovich and Shannon Twiss both started at St. Thomas in fall 2013 as roommates. Like many other St. Thomas students arriving on campus to live together, they didn’t know each other well. Unlike many other students, they had a family connection: Their grandmothers had been roommates at St. Cloud State’s teaching college.
Those grandmothers, June Drazenovich and Irma Kelley, kept in touch over the years and joked to their granddaughters about how they should live together at St. Thomas. After some “Facebook creeping” and an awkward first meeting at Panera, Twiss and Drazenovich decided to go for it, figuring they weren’t any worse off than if they were randomly paired with someone else.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Now in their junior year, the two are still living together, now off campus, and sat down to discuss how they’ve grown together and how their grandmothers have influenced them. The two – who refer to each other as Shannie and Hannie – couldn’t make it through much of the interview without laughing at each other and old memories. Readers may note: There aren’t many questions; these two didn’t need much prompting to launch into their entertaining tales.
You’ve mentioned your personalities are a little different.
Shannon: I’m a lot neater than Hannah.
Shannon: It’s true and you know it!
Hannah: It’s so true. It’s so true. … I think I’m more relaxed. I’m very laid back and she’s like, ‘Let’s make a plan!’ I’m like, let’s just see what happens. … She’s a vegetarian and I really like chicken. She’s justice and peace studies, and I’m biochemistry, which I think also says a lot.
Shannon: We have …
Hannah: … different ways of thinking. Which is cool though, because before I came to St. Thomas, I never paid attention to social issues or current events, stuff going on in our world. All I thought was science and math, yes! But then when I came to St. Thomas, Shannie – this sounds cliché – but she just opened my eyes to everything and made me incredibly interested in social justice and equality and how to be a good ally and all these really important things in our world that I never paid attention to prior to coming here. I don’t recognize high school Hannah compared to who I am now. It’s really crazy. And it’s awesome, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it.
Where do you think you’re similar?
Shannon: I think a sense of humor. I think you think I’m funny when no one else does.
Hannah: We lived in Dowling and Murray the first two years.
Shannon: This is a funny story.
Hannah: What’s the funny story?
Shannon: Our matching decorations!
Hannah: Oh, that is a funny story!
Shannon: I thought you were going to tell that story!
Shannon: You know how people plan their rooms out ahead when they come to college? Some roommates will be like, ‘You’re bringing this and I’m bringing this, and this is the color.’ We didn’t do that, except for maybe, ‘You’re bringing a fridge and I’m bringing a microwave.’ We started to move in and we realized that our bedspreads were coordinated.
Shannon: They were the same. All of our decorations were like matching color schemes. Everything matched and we didn’t plan it at all. Not even a little bit. I’m sorry. I interrupted you. (pause) We both take school seriously.
What does a typical weekend look like?
Hannah: Lots of library time.
What do you do for fun?
Shannon: We go to a lot of concerts together whenever we have the chance. Jeremy Messersmith is our favorite. We saw him together for the third time on Halloween. … We went to Doomtree.
Hannah: Oh yeah! Caroline Smith and Lizzo! Good times.
Shannon: And Twenty One Pilots! … We both have younger sisters who are 16 and are juniors in high school and have extremely similar tastes in music and literature and YouTube channels. We met once in the summer before coming here, after we decided to room together. We did a brunch at my grandma’s house, where like, June was there, and Hannah’s mom and sister, and my parents and my sister. We were still kind of awkward and trying to be cool. My sister was reading a John Green book, so Holly (Hannah’s sister) was like, ‘I love John Green!’ So they were instantly best friends. They just hit it off.
Do they still talk?
Shannon: I think so. We went camping together this last summer, the four of us. And then we went to this concert together, the four of us.
Hannah: It’s a clan.
What do your grandmothers say about how close you are now?
Hannah: I don’t think they were expecting it. I don’t think they thought we would hit it off like we did.
Shannon: Honestly, when my grandma suggested that we room together, she was joking. She wasn’t serious. But I think they’re excited about it.
Hannah: Absolutely. They were joking that when they were roommates, whenever they would do laundry, they would have to get out the washboard and a bucket of water.
Shannon: How serious were they about that?
Hannah: I think they were very serious! She was like, ‘I’m going to get you one of those for your freshman present!’ ‘OK, Grandma! Thanks!’
Shannon: They make little jokes about how they hope we’re better students than they were or that we behave better. They won’t tell us those stories. Who knows?
Hannah: What my grandma tells me that, what they did for fun, is all the women in the dorm would get by the piano and sing songs together.
Shannon: I like that!
Hannah: Did you know that Irma (Shannon’s grandmother) was in Grandma’s wedding?
Hannah: In the wedding party!
Hannah: I wonder if it was vice-versa. You should ask Irma.
Do you have similar personalities to your grandmothers’?
Shannon: I think we do. Now that I’m thinking about it.
Hannah: What do you mean?
Shannon: I won’t say she’s stubborn, but she really sticks to something and if she has a strong belief about something, she really hangs onto that … Some of the things I’m really passionate about, like environmental sustainability, are things she introduced me to. She is a master gardener and she has a beautiful yard that she works really hard to maintain. She would take us to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum when we were kids. She just really wanted me and my sister to get excited about things. She’d take us to museums or Orchestra Hall. Stuff like that. She paid for my piano lessons all through – I took like 12 years. She thinks things like that are really important. I got a lot of that from her. She’s fiery.
How did your grandmother influence you?
Hannah: I think my grandma’s independence and pursuit to get an education is something that we both have similar between us. Growing up, there was never any other path. You are able to get educated, so you’re going to get educated. I think that drive and motivation, I get from her. Where she grew up, small town in northern Minnesota, going to school wasn’t something most women did. Knowing that I came from a woman that was so driven and motivated and passionate is really cool to think about. I’m lucky. I’m very lucky.
Could you perceive a world where your grandchildren are roommates?
Hannah: God bless their souls!
Shannon: I don’t know.
Hannah: Yeah. Maybe?
Shannon: We would both have to get married and have children for that to happen!
Hannah: That’s true! One step at a time! … I would like that though. Skip a generation. I dig it.
Shannon: I think that’s good.
Hannah: That would be one hell of an article.
Shannon: Plot out the family tree!
Hannah: I wish. We’ll let you know.