Ask Mary, Elise and Jenna Ramseyer what it’s like to be a triplet, and they might not know how to answer.“We don’t know what it’s like to not be a triplet!” said Jenna.
Said Mary, “It’s normal… for us!”
The girls are juniors this year, and though they share many similarities, they have unique personalities and different majors. Elise believes that their individual interests were evident since they were young. One example was Christmas 1996.
Before this day, their parents were dedicated to making sure each gift they gave the girls was exactly the same.
“[Our mom] would count the jelly beans and make sure that we had the same color of M&M’s in our Easter eggs,” said Mary.
But this Christmas, each girl’s gift was geared towards her own interests.
“I had a fancy little sequined dress and high heels,” said Elise. “Mary got a little magnetic word board and Jenna got a mini-cleaning set.”
Elise said their mother felt bad giving Jenna a mop for Christmas, but “she was the happiest kid you have ever seen on Christmas. It’s not that Jenna says, ‘Wow, I can’t wait to go clean the apartment,’ but she still loves getting things done.”
Though individualized, these gifts didn’t exactly foreshadow the girls’ career paths: Jenna is a business major and both Mary and Elise are in the nursing program. Because of their shared major, Mary and Elise take the same classes, which can be both good and bad.
“We got a test back last week,” Mary said, “and our prof told us, ‘If you guys weren’t related, I would have thought you cheated.’ We looked and we literally did answer all the questions the same.”
But being Goshen students has allowed them to have their own experiences, too. During the summer, Jenna traveled in Europe and Elise and Mary completed SST in Nicaragua and Peru respectively. This was the longest they had ever been separated from one another.
In fact, Mary was surprised to realize during the summer of 2013 when she returned home alone from Camp Friedenswald that she had never spent the night without at least one of her sisters. So SST was, to the girls, what many students experience when they first come to college and are separated from their families. But SST was very different — the girls had extremely limited contact with one another.
Elise believes that homesickness was more linked to missing her sisters.
“I got that feeling of fear, like there were going to be things that they would never know about me, things that I would forget to tell them,’’ Elise said.
Some of their adventures will have to stay untold because, unfortunately, the girls cannot read each other’s thoughts using triplet telepathy. The girls are asked this question frequently, and it’s one of the more annoying things about being a triplet. Sometimes the girls will go along with it, acting as if they read their sisters’ thoughts all the time.
Though the girls don’t hear their sisters’ voices in their heads, some people may accidentally get the idea that the girls are schizophrenic.
“We talk in plural form.” Mary said, simply by habit. Mary would speak to someone new while on SST, and while introducing herself, she would say, “We’re from Ohio.”
Jenna, too, slips up sometimes. “I always say, ‘We’ll see you later!’” Jenna said.
While the girls lived in different rooms in the dorms, they still lived on the same floor. Now in the apartments, they live in the same unit, one of their last opportunities to do so before the end of their college careers. Afterwards, they aren’t sure where they’ll end up. “Ideally, we have talked about how we would want to be able to live close,” said Elise.
If living at Goshen College has taught them anything, it’s been through separation.
“It made us realize how much we appreciate each other and really do love being together,” Elise said.