Leah and Peregrine Pistone, homeschooled on an Ohio farm, ready to take on Mason

Incoming freshmen Peregrine and Leah Pistone are looking forward to being in a large campus environment with a diverse student body. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services

Leah and Peregrine Pistone, incoming freshmen at George Mason University, are used to learning together. The siblings were homeschooled by their mother throughout their K-12 years. While they say they are grateful for the experience, they both are looking forward to engulfing themselves in a large university environment with diverse classmates.

“I’m really looking forward to getting to Mason and meeting people coming in from all over the world,” said Peregrine, 18, who is majoring in global affairs. “Meeting different kinds of people with different life experiences and personalities is really exciting.”

Leah and Peregrine are Honors College students. Peregrine is also a University Scholar, which pays for four years of tuition, and Leah is one of two College of Science Promise Scholars, in its inaugural year of covering all costs associated with obtaining a Mason degree for a select few scientifically minded students. 

Leah, 17, said she’s glad that Mason is a large school, so she doesn’t necessarily have to hang out with her brother all the time.

“My brother and I have been best friends all our lives,” said Leah, who is pursuing a biology degree. “At the same time, I would like a little space from him to be a person without him.”

Leah and Peregrine are a little over a year apart, but began being homeschooled by their mother, a teacher, at the same time. They have three younger siblings who are also homeschooled. Their father is an engineer, and the family has lived in Michigan, Texas and, most recently, rural Ohio. They live on a family farm with chickens, goats, cows, a turkey and a peacock.

Leah wants to be a veterinarian but says that, while she likes the animals on the farm, she’s “more interested in working with exotic animals or wildlife.” She plans to participate in the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation.

Leah’s interests include sewing and photography. She plays the cello and will be joining the Mason Symphony Orchestra. Leah likes to use her photography for macro wildlife, such as focusing closely on insects.

“When you start doing macro photography, you start seeing the intricate parts of life,” she said.

Peregrine likes to write, especially fiction.

The siblings, who say they got used to a college schedule and expectations by taking classes at Edison Community College near their home, admitted they are nervous leaving their close-knit family, but excited to try new experiences.

“Going to Mason, going so far away to college, may be a little more of a drastic change for us than it is for others because we have spent so much of our lives at home, with our parents,” Peregrine said. “But going away to college is an important experience to have. I know it will be a complete change to my life, an opportunity to diversify and discover new things.”