Class of 2022: Alnassari Triplets

Dynamic Trio: Alnassari Triplets Soar to Top of Graduating Class at 15
Posted on 05/23/2022
triplets in graduation cap and gown

Khadijah Alnassari knew there was something very unusual and wonderful about her triplets when they were just 2 years old. triplets in cap and gown

Her daughters Fatimah and Zaynab and son Ahmed didn’t speak much in the traditional sense at that point. But they “had this triplet language they talked,” and they often conspired to get around and away from the adults in their lives.

“Ahmed was an escaper,” Alnassari recalls. “He was able to outwit his teacher in kindergarten. He was almost to the interstate once before he was caught. And the girls were his little minions. He stacked the girls up so he could climb over a six-foot-high fence.”

Now the Alnassari triplets are graduating from high school at the top of their class – as 15-year-olds. Ahmed is the valedictorian, Zaynab is the salutatorian and Fatimah is third in the class that will graduate from the MNPS Virtual School on Wednesday, May 25.

And that’s not all.

All three of the triplets have taken enough college classes – they started when they were 13 – to qualify as juniors at Middle Tennessee State University, where Fatimah was recently named Undergraduate of the Year. And their mother, who had dropped out of college 20 years ago when she felt unsafe as a Muslim in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is right there with them as a fellow MTSU student and taking many of the same courses.

“I had decided to have a family. I was content,” Khadijah Alnassari says. “But when they went to college, they said, ‘Mom, come with us.’ They made me feel really special and loved.”

“I wouldn’t want to go to college without any of you,” Zaynab says during a joint interview with her siblings and mother at the Virtual School’s campus in the Cohn School building in West Nashville.

Kelby Garner, executive principal of the Virtual School, was the counselor there when the Alnassaris started in sixth grade. She said they kept her on her toes by finishing their classes so quickly that she had to scramble to get the next courses ready for them.

“It has been a privilege to serve this family every step of the way,” Garner said. “I learned immediately: This family was truly special! Each of the students had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge fueled by support from their parents and everyone here at MNPS Virtual School. These students are lifelong learners, and I have no doubt their journey towards continued discovery will lead to success.”

Future physicians

Alyson M. Lynn, a lecturer in English at MTSU, said she first met the triplets in August 2020, when they enrolled in her Expository Writing course. They had just turned 14, making them the youngest college students Lynn had ever taught. The next semester, they took her Research and Argumentative Writing course.

“For two semesters, they never missed a single class, and frankly, they were often more attentive than some of their older classmates,” Lynn wrote in an email. “They also never missed a single due date, assignment or opportunity for teacher feedback. While it is natural to refer to the Alnassari triplets as one, I cannot stress enough how different each one is – and all in the very best of ways.

“Zaynab is the artist and the animal justice warrior – and these roles were often on full display through her course assignments. However, Zaynab is also funny, which is refreshing to see in her otherwise serious demeanor. Her sister Fatimah is best described as a deep thinker and avid reader, and I would be remiss if I did not mention that her humble attitude is always on full display. Ahmed – brimming with curiosity and excitement – truly has a passion for learning and discovery. There is never a question he is hesitant to ask or a task he is not willing to undertake.”

Ahmed, Fatimah, Zaynab and their mother are all studying biology, and they all plan to become physicians. Ahmed wants to be a heart surgeon, Fatimah a pulmonologist and Zaynab a thoracic surgeon.

They said it’s important to them that they help people with health issues in developing countries once they complete their medical training.

“I want to make sure as many people as possible can have the best of their lives,” Ahmed says.

A few days after they graduate, the triplets, their mother and the rest of their family – father Akeel, 8-year-old sister Zahrah and 5-year-old brother Muhammed Ali – will get on a plane heading to the Middle East, where they plan to live and study in Iraq and Qatar for about eight months. They’ll continue to study at MTSU with online courses while they’re abroad.

Package deal

The triplets are several years younger than most of their college classmates; they won’t be able to drive legally until August. They said they occasionally feel looked down on or doubted, but they’ve been received warmly overall.

Ahmed said he and his sisters aren’t geniuses, but they’ve worked extremely hard and been ambitious about pushing their lives forward at a rapid clip.

“We can reach our goals more quickly,” he said. “We’re not restricted by age. If you work hard enough, anyone can reach anything as soon as you want.”

The three of them enjoy robotics and solving problems. Zaynab loves painting. Ahmed builds circuits. They’ve attended camps to learn about pottery and artificial intelligence.

They’re competitive about driving lessons and other activities, but they support each other and have little interest in being apart.

“They’ve never left each other behind,” their mother said.

Asked if each of them might go to different medical schools after college, Ahmed, Fatimah and Zaynab all answered emphatically: They’ll keep going to school together.

They’re a package deal.

“I wouldn’t want to split up from my siblings,” Fatimah says. “I want to be there for them.”

Class of 2022,Students,MNPS Virtual School