Whether found on the Mall, behind the Admissions desk, or at the Cap Bar, Ale and Stefi Taliente are a warm and vibrant presence on the University of Dallas campus.
Hailing from Kingwood, Texas, the twins moved to Panama a year after they were born in the U.S. They stayed for eight years before moving back to Texas.
The twins have lots of fond childhood memories from their time in Central America. One such anecdote includes a pre-K class visit where the class pet a chicken. During recess, Stefi and her friends snuck into the classroom to pet the chicken. A startled teacher re-entered the classroom as they were opening the chicken’s cage. As punishment, Stefi and her friends weren’t allowed to pet the chicken.
“I had to watch as everyone petted the chicken without me! Even Ale got to pet the chicken!” said Stefi, as if she was still bitter about it to this day.
“I don’t remember that at all,” Ale added.
When the Taliente’s were eight, they moved to the United States. Coming to the U.S. was a difficult transition since they were used to speaking Spanish.
By the time they were in high school, they had made a solid group of friends but lacked a deep faith-life.
“Most of our friends were Catholic but weren’t practicing, but we were young so my faith didn’t matter to me,” said Stefi.
“Sophomore year of high school was where we really took our faith seriously because we got involved in Catholic mission trips with our youth group and went to several conferences. And then over the years the faith became less surfaced and more personal,” Stefi said.
One of their closest friends from high school who knows them best, Ashley Jackson, noticed how everyone wanted to be friends with the twins. She said,
“They were always unapologetically themselves and confident in who they were. That’s what drew people to them.”
Despite initial apprehensions about attending a small private school, the desire to continue to pursue their faith was what led the twins to attend UD.
“Literally the first week that we got here, we had already fallen in love with the school,” said Ale. “We made close friends and we really loved the education.”
Unlike high school, the twins were surrounded by like-minded people who wanted to pursue their faith and challenge each other as well. It inspired them to want to make their faith their own.
“It’s really easy to be Catholic here,” said Ale.
Ale is a human and social science major with a concentration in social psychology while Stefi is a business major with a concentration in ethics.
After college Stefi is considering entering the field of finance and wealth management. Ale is interested in mission work and is considering pursuing a graduate degree in Catholic spirituality.
Faith Starnes, a senior theology major, shared some insight as to how the twins encouraged her to be a better person by fostering a willingness to deeply invest in others.
“They walk down the mall and say hi to everybody, they’re rarely shut off by people. A simple conversation, smile, or even one of their famed awkward moments can really make someone’s day,” Starnes said.
The friendship the twins have with each other has continued to grow throughout their years at college. Over the summer, Ale ventured north to Michigan for a FOCUS Summer Project. This was the first time in the twins’ life they had spent a considerable amount of time away from each other.
The difficulty of the two month separation resulted in an epiphany.
“This summer was different for us because if I had any difficulties I would always go to Stefi, but I didn’t have that this summer,” said Ale. “I learned that I could be loved and make new friends without my sister.”
For Stefi, it was a summer of personal growth and shaping her identity. “I learned over the summer that we each have our own vocation. I really wanted to learn how to be alone, so it was really good for me to do things on my own and discover who I am without Ale.”
Despite being separated the entire summer, the twins looked at the summer as a way in which they grew closer together.
“When I came back, it was almost as if nothing changed because we still talked every day,” said Ale. “I think that because we were apart we were able to love each other more, and because of that, we are able to love other people in the same way as well.”