When Lizzie Valverde and Katy Olsen signed up for a Columbia University writing class, neither of them had any idea that they were sisters.

The two sisters had been adopted by separate families while still children; Olsen grew up in Florida and Iowa while Valverde grew up in New Jersey. Leslie Parker, their birth mother, had given them up for adoption as a teenager.

Thirty-five-year-old Valverde and thirty-four-year-old Olsen soon found out that they had much in common. Both had decided to return to college in their thirties to explore a subject both women were passionate about: writing.

After class, Olsen asked Valverde so many different questions that Valverde thought she might know her younger sister.

In an interview, Olsen stated, “And, I’m like yeah, I don’t know your sister, I think I am your sister.”

“When she said, ‘I am your sister,'” said Valverde, “I just froze.”

Olsen stated, “We went straight to the bar. And we just ordered pitchers of beer and just started going back and forth with our lives and biographical details. . . .Like, do you like chicken wings? I like chicken wings. Do you have a weird pinkie toe? I have a weird pinkie toe.”

During an interview, their mother, Leslie Parker, stated, “I’m so proud of them. They’re both amazing, beautiful women.”

Parker and Olsen met for the first time during Valverde’s graduation.

As for the sisters, their story is definitely one to remember.  “If I workshopped this in a fiction class, I’d be run out. There’s no way,” said Olsen.

A Beaverton resident, Madeleine Cook enjoys a passion for reading, running, and the arts. She is currently studying the Great Books at the University of Notre Dame and is interested in eventually teaching.