By Harry Minium

Fraternities and sororities first appeared at Old Dominion University in 1966. Though no firm records are kept, it's likely the Greek-letter organizations saw a first this school year.

An ODU fraternity and sorority named presidents who are not only brother and sister, but twins.

Aimee Holland was elected president of Kappa Delta sorority and Christopher Holland president of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Born in England and raised in Ashburn in Northern Virginia, the juniors have been involved in campus activities since the day they arrived at ODU.

Christopher first decided to run for president, then urged his sister to do the same because of her leadership qualities.

"I'm really close with our previous president and she also put a bug in my ear," Aimee said. "I'm glad I did."

So are her parents, who can't quite figure out how their kids got the notion to become involved in Fraternity & Sorority Life.

Steven Holland graduated from Strayer University after his kids were born. He went to school at night and on weekends. Charlotte Holland is a stay-at-home mom.

"They didn't know anything about fraternities or sororities growing up," Charlotte said. "For them, it just happened organically."

The twins, who were 2½ when their parents moved back to America, had strong academic records in high school and their choice of colleges to attend.

Aimee, who majors in special education, was accepted by four other schools but said she was won over by the upbeat vibe she felt at ODU.

"It is just a better environment than other places I toured," she said.

For Christopher, the choice was a more pragmatic.

"I applied to schools with good engineering programs in Virginia," he said. "This is the only school that gave me financial aid."

Christopher majors in mechanical engineering with a concentration in aerospace engineering and a minor in engineering management.

They both say they got interested Fraternity & Sorority Life because they felt it was a good way to make friends and get involved on campus.

They quickly learned that Greek life at ODU isn't just about socializing. Kappa Delta and Sigma Phi Epsilon are more focused on philanthropy, camaraderie and academic success, they said.

Most fundraisers involved face-to-face contact prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and they haven't been able to hold meetings with more than 10 people at a time.

"It's harder for people to feel directly engaged when we're all social distancing," Christopher said. "We've done a number of virtual fundraisers. It's frustrating that we can't do more but we understand the reason why."

Although their father had never been involved in a fraternity, he did set a great example for his kids academically. He graduated magna cum laude from Strayer University.

"I always tell them to keep that bar raised high because you will accomplish great things," Steven Holland said.

He is a principal in property and asset management for LMI Consulting, LLC, in Tysons, Virginia.

Aimee and Christopher have done well academically. Both chose to live off campus in Norfolk this school year though most of their courses are online.

They said being close to campus and near facilities such as Webb University Center have been more conducive to focusing on academics than staying home.

"They both have a full load of classes," Charlotte Holland said. "It's not easy keeping up with all of those classes. We knew this year was going to be a great challenge. But we also knew they would be fine."

When Aimee and Christopher recruit freshmen, the first question they ask is "how are your grades?"

"If you can see a balance, that they're doing well in the classes already, that gives us a pretty good idea that they can balance Kappa Delta events and school," Aimee said.

"The No. 1 reason you're here is to get an education," Christopher added. "If there's anything we're doing that will hinder that, we try to dial back as much as we can."

ODU is a diverse institution, and that just doesn't mean ethnic diversity. Because of the large military presence in Hampton Roads, there is also a diversity of ages.

Christopher said he has gone to class with students in their late 20s or early 30s and said they set good examples.

"You can't slack off when you have a mortgage and kids," he said. "That's one of the things I like so much about ODU. You are exposed to all kinds of people."

Steven Holland said that his son and daughter have not slacked off.

"I applaud Chris and Aimee for staying involved, focusing on their academics, and enjoying college life," he said. "It's a great time for them to be in college.

"They found the right place at Old Dominion. We're very happy with the education and support they're receiving there."

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