BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - More than 150 Tara High School graduates received their diplomas Wednesday night at Bethany World Prayer Center in Baker, but it was extra special for two sisters taking home top honors.
It is a night they have been looking forward to for as long as they can remember, but never in their wildest dreams did Alisha and Talisha Parker imagined that their graduation would pan out quite the way that it did.
The identical twin sisters were named Tara High School's 2016 valedictorian and salutatorian.
"It was a surprise because I just found out a week ago that I was salutatorian so it was a big shock," Talisha said.
"I feel like it's a blessing because I get to walk across the stage not only with my sister but as the top two in our class," Alisha added.
Alisha ended up with the highest grade point average of 4.52, just slightly above her sister Talisha who walked away with a 4.48 GPA.
While this would have caused tension among most siblings, their mother Latasha said for these two it was just the opposite. The friendly competition motivated them both to work harder.
"My valedictorian was born first so the salutatorian always was behind her 'you gotta be first, you gotta be first' so it's been great. They both support each other and I like that," Parker said.
The young women also found inspiration in their mom's health. She was diagnosed with cancer both in 2010 and 2012. The duo was determined to succeed and make sure their futures would be something their mother would not have to worry about.
"It was really hard because she was in the hospital and the doctors were saying that she wasn't going to live long and so that was kind of a discouragement, but in the end we knew what we had to do and continued to push through," Talisha said.
Tara principal Karen Triche said their drive and perseverance is something everyone can learn from.
"They are exactly what a high school kid should be," Triche said. "A lot of times when difficulties come kids kind of fall of the radar but they still knew that their mother would want them to have a great future so they kept working."
Both of the young women have been accepted to LSU.
Talisha will be studying chemical engineering and Alisha will major in criminal law.
On a mobile device? Click the link to see pictures of all of the valedictorians - http://bit.ly/27CMjdf