Have you been seeing double, but dismissing what you saw as a mere glitch in the matrix or a case of deja vu? We too — that is until we got the chance to meet Penn State’s most famous twins.
Despite appearing to be identical from their long, blonde ponytails down to their matching boots, these two sisters are much more than what meets the eye. VALLEY recently sat down with second-year students, Kaylie and Kylie Barber who have quickly become one (well, two) of the most iconic figures at Penn State since they first arrived on campus.
We talked about everything from academics to personal life. Here’s how it all went down.
Kaylie and Kylie are Pennsylvania natives, raised in a small, rural town just north of Pittsburgh in what many consider to be Amish country. In fact, their hometown’s population is less than 200 residents, and the population of their school growing up was just one percent of that. Yes, that’s just two people. But you can probably guess who they were — Kaylie and Kylie.
The twins were homeschooled and took dual enrollment courses through the University of Delaware during their senior year before attending Penn State. Now they’re at Penn State experiencing a campus full of opportunity…well, and people who are very interested in knowing more about them.
Many are perplexed by the seemingly inseparable pair. But contrary to popular belief, Kaylie and Kylie haven’t always dressed as identically as they do now. Kylie shared that when they were younger, she remembered wanting to wear pants while Kaylie wanted to wear dresses instead.
While they do dress the same now, the choice is not one that they think about extensively. Their busy daily routine doesn’t allow much time for worrying about outfits. The Barbers wake up at 5 a.m. every morning and tag team their morning routine — while one of them brushes their teeth and gets dressed, the other starts breakfast. (We don’t know about you, but having a twin to help you through an early morning sounds like the best-case scenario!)
Why Penn State?
They were originally drawn to the Schreyer Honors College and were given an offer they couldn’t refuse — one so good they even declined a full ride at another school to come to Penn State.
“We got accepted into that program, and we felt like it would be a small community of like-minded scholars and people who were here for the academics, but at a larger research university that has all those opportunities,” Kaylie said.
Kylie added that “another factor besides Schreyer was the Learning Factory…being in engineering, we really wanted to get our hands-on projects. We love building and making things.”
Kaylie and Kylie are both Schreyer scholars and majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in mechatronics. In addition to sharing a class schedule, they are heavily involved in nearly a half dozen clubs and organizations at Penn State.
The Barbers were immediately involved on campus and joined both the robotics club and the Women in Engineering Program. Kaylie and Kylie are also student supervisors at the Bernard M. Gordon Learning Factory. Located on the outskirts of west campus, The Learning Factory is a creative learning space for engineering students — not to mention it’s one of their favorite parts ofPenn State.
Additionally, they both work as facilitated study group leaders for a physics course. They’re also part of a Disney club at Penn State and have dreams of becoming Disney Imagineers — the creative geniuses behind every Disney theme park, resort and attraction, worldwide. (Fun Fact: they’ve actually been to Disney roughly 20 times, most recently over spring break!)
But where do Kaylie and Kylie see themselves in the future?
“We’ve always said that starting our own company would be really cool because you’re your own boss, you get to make the rules and do what you love doing,” Kaylie said.
One in the Same?
It’s not what it looks like! Well, obviously they do look alike, but the Barber twins do have their differences, even with their appearance.
Although, we think it’s worth mentioning that the duo has claimed the first place title at the Twinsburg Twins Days Festival’s “most alike” competition — a few times, actually. (How cool is that!?) But how do people tell Kaylie and Kylie apart?
“Some people say my voice is a little bit higher,” Kaylie said.
“At the learning factory, we’ve had people say they tell us apart by how tight we tie our shoes. Some people say we have a different face shape. We have different smiles too; my eyes tend to squint a little bit more, but everybody finds their own thing,” Kylie said.
Aside from the physical differences, the pair really are both individuals outside of their twin association. When asked about the differences in personality, Kaylie shared how she thinks of herself as being a bit more extroverted than her sister Kylie who is a little more thoughtful and quiet.
And when VALLEY asked each of them to describe their sister in just three words, their answers were, in fact, different. (No twin telepathy here!) Kaylie described her sister as determined, funny and creative while Kylie described her sister as hardworking, creative and caring.
“I wish people knew more about how we worked. We work really well as a team, but that doesn’t make us dependent on one another…And we definitely benefit from each other’s help, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t work individually,” Kaylie said.
“I wish they knew that we are fun to be around and do have a sense of humor. We are very school-oriented, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t have fun sometimes. I think we may come off as very serious being so school-oriented, but we’re not always that serious,” Kylie said.
Just like any other siblings, the Barber twins certainly disagree and don’t share everything. Each sister noted a time when they kept secrets from one another, but of course, they were both out of only the best intentions. Yes, they’ve both kept secrets — Kaylie’s lasted over 18 months — but it was all to surprise each other with a special dinner and a Disney cruise.
Though their recent stardom at Penn State has offered many unique opportunities to meet people they may have never otherwise spoken to, Kaylie and Kylie’s experience has come with challenges. Well-meaning fascination of many students has unfortunately been turned sour by a few. The sisters have dealt with everything from uncomfortable stares and whispers to sneaky pictures behind their backs and even instances of stalking.
“Our friends have really stood behind us and helped us. They’ll walk us home from our clubs later at night. They’ve also done some detective work to figure out who’s been behind putting these photos up of us. They’ve really had our backs which is the best thing that’s come out of this,” Kylie said.
As we wrapped up our conversation with Kaylie and Kylie, there was one final burning question we had to ask — what is your favorite part about being a twin?
Kylie said one of the things she loves about it is that she knows she always has someone that she can count on, whether that’s in the classroom or just in her day-to-day life. Kaylie agreed and added that she loves knowing that she always has someone that will be by her side, no matter what.
Though the things that they disagree on are limited only to their favorite movies and Berkey Creamery orders — Kylie likes “10 Things I Hate About You” and Pralines N Cream while Kaylie prefers “Newsies” and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough — there’s one thing we can all agree on. Some things are just better together, and the Barber twins are no exception.
Are you a twin or share an inseparable bond with a sibling? Tweet us, @VALLEYmag, and tell us your story!