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INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY

Sisterly support helps twins succeed at BU




HARPUR COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES

Names: Gretchen and Nancy Baker
Degrees: BA in anthropology
Plans: Take a year off before attending graduate school.

The word “close” doesn’t even come close when describing Gretchen and Nancy Baker. Identical twins from Thurman, near Lake George, the young women to this point in their lives have followed the same path.

After high school, both attended Adirondack Community College on a scholarship, each earning an associate’s degree in liberal arts. They then transferred to Binghamton University to study anthropology — and more specifically, bioarchaeology, which is the study of human remains from a biological and cultural perspective.

With the same major and specialty within it, the Bakers have been in most of the same classes throughout their years at Binghamton. They are also both members of the Undergraduate Anthropology Organization, where they’ve helped new students interested in anthropology. “We help them pick courses that are appropriate to their particular interests,” Gretchen said.

They have both also worked with Dawnie Steadman, assistant professor of anthropology, to complete honors theses. “They each chose to do their theses on infectious diseases, but they did choose different ones,” said Steadman, noting that she can tell them apart sometimes, but not always.

“I’ve never seen them apart,” Steadman said. “But they are both very dedicated and worked very hard on their theses. They’re great at following through in terms of meeting deadlines, and they’re just incredibly pleasant to be around. I really enjoyed being with them.”
From a family of 10 children, Gretchen and Nancy have taken charge of earning their education themselves. Both work on campus — Gretchen in the library and Nancy in the Anthropology Department. “If you take some initiative and work hard, anything is possible,” Gretchen said. That initiative shows in their coursework as well. Because it’s likely their careers will take them to the Middle East, they’ve taken Arabic. “I always wanted to learn it,” Nancy said. “And it’s great Binghamton offers it.”

Having landed at Binghamton because it offered the strongest anthropology program of any school they looked at, Gretchen and Nancy may soon make a different choice. They’re taking the next year off, but both plan on attending graduate school. “We’ll look for the best program we can get into,” said Nancy. “We’re not going to restrict ourselves even if we go to different schools.”

When the time comes, a split will be tough. The Bakers have made the same decisions so far, even living in the same apartment, though they’re quick to say that they are not roommates. “It will be a struggle when we go our separate ways,” Gretchen said. “We’ve never known anything else, but we can do it.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08