Barbara Bush

The Graduates

UPDATED 05/31/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/31/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT

Quick—your 22-year-old twin daughters are graduating from different colleges, 1,500 miles apart. What's a parent to do? It helps to have Air Force One at your disposal. On May 22 George and Laura Bush will host a private dinner for close friends and family to honor daughter Jenna after she graduates with a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Texas in Austin; the very next day they'll be in New Haven, Conn., to fete her twin sister, Barbara, a Yale humanities major. Unfortunately, because of security concerns the first couple won't attend either daughter's actual commencement ceremony. "I know they will wish they were there for them," says the twins' grandmother Barbara Bush. "They must feel the same pride my husband [former President George H.W. Bush] and I feel."

Proud—and maybe a tad anxious as their girls go out on their own. Since his election in 2000, the President has sheltered them from publicity. "They didn't ask for this," both parents have said of First Daughterdom, which included unwelcome headlines about the twins' occasional high jinks (partying hard, getting caught with false IDs). Now the sisters are poised for a very public coming out. After traveling with pals, the pair will star in an interview and photo spread in Vogue before pitching in on Dad's campaign. Then it's time to join the real world: Jenna, a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority at UT with an interest in education, will move to Manhattan, share an apartment with friends and do volunteer work with school kids. "She's so excited," says Giacomo Forbes, her Austin hairstylist. "She's looking for something where she can give back." Barbara, a frequent visitor to New York City during her Yale years, will intern with a pediatric AIDS program at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. The work will take her to clinics in Africa and Eastern Europe. "I'm very impressed with Barbara," says her future boss Dr. Mark Kline. "She is extremely thoughtful and caring." And outgoing: According to a bartender at Manhattan's Beauty Bar, which Barbara visited with pals in the spring, the young Bush flirted sweetly but politely refused to take his number. "She's really, really, really cute and really pretty and really nice," says the bartender.

What of long-term career plans? Both sisters, who are unattached, plan on taking their time to figure that one out. Given the opportunities and possible pitfalls that await, that's fine with the family. "They're right to look around a bit," says their great uncle Prescott Bush Jr. "They don't have to dive right into the pond until they're sure there are no sharks in it."

J.D. Heyman. Macon Morehouse in Washington, D.C., Anne Lang in Austin and Elisabeth DeBourbon and Tom Duffy in New York City

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