Best friends forevermore: lifelong pals Rowan Orlijan-Rhyne and Zack Kreines to attend Swarthmore College

In a country where there are nearly 4,000 different universities spread out across 3.797 million square miles, this article really should never have ever existed. Statistically speaking, it is highly improbable that two students, let alone two lifelong best friends from the same high school, would happen to go to the same tiny school 2,350 miles away from home, yet here we are. Defying the odds this fall, Zack Kreines and Rowan Orlijan-Rhyne are headed off to Swarthmore (pronounced SwaRthmore or Swa_thmore, depending on who one asks) as members of the Class of 2025.

Kreines and Orlijan-Rhyne first met one another years before they were capable of making the complex decisions that factor into college decisions and acceptances. Indeed, they’ve known each other and been in the same classes since they were toddlers.

“We’ve known each other since preschool, and we’ve been in at least one class together every year since first grade,” Orlijan-Rhyne said. “So if we have a class together next year, it’ll be 13 consecutive years of classes together.” This impressive streak has been kept alive by Kreines and Orlijan-Rhyne’s shared college preferences. As chance would have it, both of them valued being in a place that is somewhat like Claremont and valued the environment that small liberal arts colleges provide.

“I know both of us wanted to apply to small liberal arts colleges because we like the academic freedom that they give students,” Orlijan-Rhyne said. Moreover, Kreines spoke to the influence his experiences taking courses at the Claremont Colleges had on his decision-making process.

“Really what solidified [going to Swat] for me was taking a few classes at the Claremont Colleges,” Kreines said. “I really loved those classes, and I really loved specifically that they were small and discussion-based. You really got to know your professors there.”

Although neither of them has decided on what major they plan on pursuing in college, that is no big deal at Swarthmore. Swarthmore gives all of its students until the end of their sophomore year to declare their major, giving Orlijan-Rhyne more than enough time to explore physics and Romance languages and allowing Kreines the opportunity to investigate physics, German, and philosophy. While they are engaged in academic pursuits, they will not have to worry too much about a detrimentally sports-centric culture, something that both of them expressed concerns about. Swarthmore is quite laid-back when it comes to student athletics, which Orlijan-Rhyne appreciates as a future member of the Swarthmore cross-country and track teams.

“I like the climate around athletics,” Orlijan-Rhyne said. “The culture in sports is healthy and focused on fun and improvement; they prioritize academics. If you’re an athlete, people don’t view you as an athlete — they view you as a student. It doesn’t consume your identity.”

Although sports do not have a huge presence on campus, Orlijan-Rhyne and Kreines will still have ample opportunities to have fun elsewhere on campus and in the surrounding area. Both of them already seem set on what they want to experience once they get to campus.

“What I’ll really like about Philly is that it’s so accessible,” Kreines said. “It’s a 20-40 minute train ride, and I think that’ll be really nice. I’ve never really lived in a city for much of my life, but I really do like cities. If I ever feel cooped up at Swarthmore, I can just go to the city.” To this, Orlijan-Rhyne added that there is a train stop literally right next to the campus grounds, which provides easy access to Philly and all of its many culinary and cultural experiences. Indeed, there is one Philly dish that Kreines mentions as being particularly intriguing to him: the Philly Pizzasteak.

“I’ve heard that the best thing in Philly are pizzasteaks, which are cheesesteaks with marinara sauce,” Kreines said. Orlijan-Rhyne, a staunch vegetarian and aspiring vegan, added that he will try to find a meatless pizzasteak to try.

While both Kreines and Orlijan-Rhyne are ready to experience all that Swarthmore has to offer, they’re both thankful for the memories they’ve made during their time at CHS. The extracurriculars, teammates, and most importantly, the friends that they’ve shared their high school experiences with have all been important aspects of their lives as they prepare to move on.

No matter how daunting the prospect of leaving home and beginning college may be, both Kreines and Orlijan-Rhyne can always take solace in the fact that they will be there for one another, just like they always have been. When I asked the duo who they would like to shout out at the end of the article, there was no hesitation from either of them.

“Shoutout to Zachary Tilton Kreines,” Orlijan-Rhyne said.

“Shoutout to Rowan,” Kreines said.

Call me crazy, but I think these two will be fine.