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Degree Doppelganger

By Used with permission from the Lowell Sun Online By SUSAN McMAHON Sun Staff

LOWELL Will the real Patty Shattuck please stand up?
UMass Lowell's graduation ceremony today may resemble an episode of What's My Line? as two women both named Patricia Ann Shattuck will be receiving the same master's of education degree in curriculum and instruction.

But it gets even stranger than that both women also lived in the same condominium complex for a time.

They've received each other's mail, gotten cap and gown orders mixed up, and flummoxed the school administration with their nearly identical names and addresses.

"I couldn't believe she had the same middle name, but she does," said one Shattuck, a teacher in Nashua. "It can be kind of eerie, I think."

The younger Shattuck a 26-year-old teacher at the Butler School in Lowell first discovered the existence of the other Patty when she opened a bill and discovered a sum much more than she thought she had spent.

She called the company to tell them the bill wasn't hers. They told her it was. But when they compared Social Security numbers, it didn't come up to a match.

The older Shattuck, who is in her 40s, received a phone call from Notre Dame Academy, inquiring about a job as a science teacher. Shattuck taught English as a second language, not science, so she also began to suspect another Patty Shattuck was wandering around in the world.

The similarities caused quite a few headaches for the administrators in the university's College of Education, who had to keep track of the records for the pair of Pattys.

"Now, I'm known as Patty Shattuck 030, and she's Patty Shattuck 011," said the younger Shattuck. "It's confusing, but it's pretty funny."

The two have never met, but have spoken over the phone when various bills needed to be sorted out. They will see each other for the first time at graduation.

For the younger Shattuck, it will be a relief to finally meet her counterpart.

"To get to meet her, to know that she does exist and she's not only in my imagination, will be good," said the Chelmsford resident.

Patty Shattuck 011, now a Shirley resident, finished her coursework for her degree last fall, so the mix-ups have been nonexistent for the other Shattuck this semester until she went to pick up her cap and gown, that is.

The man handing out the caps and gowns told her she had already picked hers up. She told him, no, she hadn't. She realized what had probably happened and explained the situation.

"He said, 'What do you mean there's two of you?' " said the Lowell teacher.

Graduation for most people will mean leaving behind years of school and friends. But each Shattuck will be leaving behind her doppelganger.

After they receive the exact same diplomas, they plan to greet each other with a big hug.

But, both admit, it will be nice to be rid of the confusion.

"I want to tell her to hurry up and get married so her name will change," joked the Nashua teacher.