Local twins headed to West Point, will be part of the first 500 black women to graduate


They didn't speak until almost three years old, but over the last 15 years, the now 18-year-old twins Alyse and Jessica Rawls are speaking volumes.

The Central Dauphin East student athletes and recent graduates are on their way to the U. S. Military Academy at West Point.

When Alyse and Jessica crossed the stage at the Giant Center to get their high school diplomas this past June, it was the last steps the CD East grads took as high school students. But they are just beginning the next chapter of their education.

The identical twins are part of the next class of cadets at West Point but they weren't accepted at the same time.

Alyse got a stress fracture from playing basketball, both girls were high school standouts. But Alyse wasn't eligible with the injury and had to get a waiver.

Jessica was accepted in February, leaving the two to endure two months of uncertainty over whether they would be together at West Point.

"We literally never went 24 hours without seeing each other," said Jessica.

Once they received word that Alyse was in, they both officially accepted on April 9.

"I get choked up and say oh my gosh my babies and look at the pictures, but yeah, I'm happy for them," said mother Erica Rawls.

It may be a little harder for dad to say goodbye, Jesse Rawls is also the principal at CD East.

"The thing I'll miss most is - I would see them every day in the hallway. How many fathers have a chance to see their daughters every day?" said Jesse. "Take them to school or pick them up or take them to practices, so we spent a lot of time together."

And although his girls will miss him, they are excited to learn what life will be like without Dad running the show at school.

"The boys were intimidated by our height and also our dad so that we never got prom dates or homecoming," said Alyse.

Being the CD East Historian, Alyse gathered some history about West Point regarding twins. As it turns out, the first set of identical twins graduated from West Point in 1987.

Alyse and Jessica will be part of the 1st 500 black women to graduate in 2021.

The girls officially accepted admission to West Point on the same day their dad, Jesse Rawls, Jr was inducted into the CD East Wrestling Hall of Fame. Their brother Aris, who is now 23 years old, played football and their mom Erica played basketball. So, they are a family of athletes. But they all put emphasis on the “student” part of “student athlete”.

Alyse wants to study life sciences, biology, chemistry and environmental sciences. Jessica wants to study politics and become a lawyer, judge and eventually a Supreme Court Justice.

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