Siblings with public service as a goal will receive master’s degrees from CPS.
By Greg Varner
Twin brothers Lavontay and Lorenzo Santos have always been close—they were born only 60 seconds apart—so it was no surprise when they went together from their family home in King George, Virginia, to the U.S. Naval Academy. Nor should it be a surprise to see them both marching in GW’s Commencement ceremony on Sunday.
Lavontay, the oldest by a minute, and Lorenzo both majored in international relations at the Naval Academy, graduating in 2013. At GW, they are both receiving master’s degrees from the College of Professional Studies (CPS).
He may be the younger brother, but Lorenzo came to GW first, majoring in homeland security. He completed his master’s degree requirements in December. Based on Lorenzo’s enthusiastic recommendation, Lavontay entered the CPS master’s degree program in cybersecurity strategy and information management, lagging behind his brother by one semester.
“We kind of follow each other closely as we do things in life,” Lorenzo said. “I had enrolled right at the start of the pandemic, and I told him about it.”
Lavontay said the two “challenge each other.”
“It’s good that we were in different programs because we can motivate each other,” Lavontay said. “We thrive because we can support each other in different endeavors.”
Both brothers view their degrees as closely related and likely to add a professional layer to the bond they already enjoy.
“Our programs absolutely have an intersection,” said Lavontay. “We would be able to talk as if we were in the same program, because the threats are the same. A cybersecurity attack is an attack on our homeland security.”
Both fields, cybersecurity and homeland security, are related in other ways, Lavontay said. Both attract service-oriented people, and both require lifelong learning.
“When it comes to homeland security or cybersecurity,” Lavontay said, “you have to have a hunger for knowledge and never accept that you have all the information. My brother and I are still hungry for knowledge. We want to continue to make ourselves better every step of the way, and the George Washington University programs absolutely supported us in that goal.”
Lorenzo, who currently lives in Racine, Wisconsin, and serves in the Navy Reserves, was in the online homeland security program. As a long-distance learner, he wasn’t particularly affected, academically, by the COVID pandemic. Given that virtual classes have been the norm for much of the past two years, he predicted, the prestige of online programs is likely to rise.
“Most of the world had to do that for the last two years,” Lorenzo said. He will be the student speaker at the CPS School Celebration on Saturday evening, having been selected after submitting his proposed three-minute speech.
“I’m excited to address my classmates,” Lorenzo said. “I want to talk about the fact that we’re a class that has had to get our education in a trying time, and I wanted to cover the fact that as we look at our heroes in life, we’re losing a lot of them, and that means it’s time for us to step up and carry on their legacy. That’s the theme.”
Ten years from now, Lorenzo said, he hopes to be practicing law. He is gearing up to go through the law school application process, and he said GW Law is an obvious, highly attractive option.
For his part, Lavontay, who currently lives in Millersville, Maryland, and is on active duty in the Marine Corps, plans to be working in the cybersecurity industry, “making it as hard as possible,” he said, “for malicious actors to engage in cyberattacks against the United States.”
Wherever their future paths take them, one thing seems sure: They will continue to function as a mutual support system.
“You always have a sounding board as a twin,” Lorenzo said, “and that has always been a comfort, having someone to talk to.”
In his occasional work as an open-format DJ, Lorenzo doesn’t stick to one musical genre, opting instead to play whatever song fits the moment. What song would he choose to celebrate the milestone events of this weekend, as he and his family members converge in Washington?
“The Black Eyed Peas' update of '(I've Had) The Time of My Life' comes to mind," he said. "It’s a great celebration song.”