Even the most attentive professors who have Dustin and Casey Aschinger in their class will, come the last week of school, be unable to tell the two apart.
The twins say there is a telltale freckle, but no freckle is immediately obvious. And to complicate matters, they’re taking not just some but, so far, all of their classes together – chemistry, biology, statistics and anthropology this spring, for instance.
Dustin and Casey are even pursuing the same field of study at the University of Missouri–St. Louis: pre-health.
But that’s where the similarities end. Each of the brothers has a very specific – and different – career track in mind, despite the shared academic foundation they are getting at UMSL.
Dustin is headed toward becoming a physician’s assistant, a job he succinctly describes as “85 percent of what a doctor does.” With the help of pre-health adviser Joe Southerland, he’s making sure he has all the necessary prerequisites for his next steps once he graduates.
“I really like to help people,” Dustin says. “I know everyone who goes into medicine says that but for me it’s completely true. I wanted to be a doctor at first, but the physician assistant job is much more flexible. You can switch between fields. I can do emergency room work and later on work with infants or seniors.”
Hailing from Eureka, Missouri, he and Casey grew up helping their mother with the animal rescue operation she runs out of their home. The Aschingers live on a plot of land large enough to accommodate the 60 or so animals their mother is caring for at any given time.
“Right now we have nine horses, four dogs and tons of cats,” Casey says. “Cats are our mom’s main thing.”
Being raised near all these animals led Casey to job shadow a veterinarian. Though he liked the experience, he says that he couldn’t see himself operating on and caring for so many different types of animals. He always knew he wanted to work in medicine, but the time with the vet made him realize that he wanted to be more focused.
“That’s how I got into dentistry,” he says. “That, plus I never knew people hated going to the dentist. People should like going to the dentist if they care about taking care of their teeth.”
Right now Casey is benefiting from UMSL’s articulation agreement with the University of Missouri–Kansas City, which will save him a spot in its dental program after he finishes his undergraduate degree.
Along with physical features, futures in the health-care world and so many of their hours currently spent on UMSL’s campus, the twins share something else: a love for music. With Dustin on the drums, box drum and trumpet and Casey playing guitar and clarinet, the two have recently been writing songs, singing and performing at open mics and on the streets of Branson.
Dustin says he’s not sure where that project will lead, but at the very least it’s a “cool way to make a few bucks while we’re in school.”
In the meantime, they can count Ron Yasbin, dean of UMSL’s College of Arts and Sciences, among their fans.
“The College of Arts and Sciences is the home of STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and humanities, and math – at UMSL,” Yasbin says. “We encourage our students who are interested in the sciences to explore their artistic and creative sides as well. Dustin and Casey are great examples of this.”
But on this particular day, the science-focused studying is taking priority, as the twins have a biology test looming. On the previous exam, one of them got an A, the other a B.
“That never happens,” says Casey.
“That happens all the time,” Dustin grins.