In honor of National Siblings Day on April 10, Texas Tech alumni Lynsey and Layne Mims reminisce on their time together as Red Raiders.
Identical twin sisters Layne and Lynsey Mims have many fond memories from childhood. From switching places to confuse their preschool teachers to getting their first jobs together in high school, the girls have plenty to look back on. One memory that influenced them tremendously was finding their grandmother's old La Ventana yearbooks from Texas Tech University.
“That was our first fascination with the school,” Lynsey said. “When we were little, we loved going through our grandmother's old pictures. One day we found her yearbooks from college. There were flowers pressed into the pages along with napkins that had event names and dates scribbled on them. Texas Tech seemed like a magical place.”
From that day on, the girls dreamed of becoming Red Raiders and carrying on the family legacy.
Both of their maternal grandparents graduated from what was then, Texas Technological College. Their grandmother Mary Eva graduated in 1950, followed by their grandfather Walter in 1951. The couple staggered their attendance with Walter staying on the farm the first year before joining his sweetheart on campus.
“They were high school sweethearts,” Lynsey said. “Our grandfather would write Mary Eva letters during that year they were apart. It's clear how much they loved each other.”
Not only did the couple love each other, but they loved Texas Tech. Layne and Lynsey knew they'd have to study and work hard to carry on their grandparents' legacy.
“Both our parents started school at Texas Tech but unfortunately didn't finish,” Layne said. “So, in our immediate family we basically functioned as first-generation students.”
“We were raised by a single mother who worked hard to give us everything we needed,” Lynsey said. “But college was another story. Layne and I knew that we'd need jobs and good grades to manage the finances of attending a university.”
But hard work was in their blood.
Although the girls were born and raised in Lubbock and bled red and black, they also had to consider other schools for alternatives. However, during a Texas Tech visit their senior year of high school, Layne and Lynsey were reminded of the magic.
“That experience cemented the decision for me,” Layne said. “I couldn't imagine not sharing the college experience with my sister, and I didn't want to.”
Once the girls arrived on campus their freshman year, they realized there were plenty of opportunities to have autonomy at a school as large as Texas Tech.
“We did so much together growing up that college was the first time people didn't necessarily know we were twins,” Layne said. “We got to grow into our own identities while still being together.”
While Layne went straight into the College of Media & Communication (COMC), Lynsey spent her first semester in the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business.
“I knew I wanted to study advertising or marketing,” Lynsey said. “After that first semester though, I realized my strengths were in the creative side of advertising, so the COMC seemed like a better fit.”
Lynsey began to pave her own path in a place Layne had already built relationships.
“I remember being mistaken for Layne quite a few times in the weeks after I transferred to the COMC,” Lynsey said. “Not everyone knew Layne had a twin, so they were a bit shocked.”
Growing up they had been known as ‘the twins,' so getting to college and finding independence created a new dynamic.
“While we were both in the same college, Lynsey was focusing on advertising while I was studying public relations,” Layne said. “This theme of being in the same space but having our own niche wasn't new though.”
In middle school both girls were involved in music. Lynsey gravitated toward choir while Layne played in the orchestra. In high school they both joined spirit squads, Lynsey in cheerleading and Layne on the pom squad.
“We've always tried to be in similar spaces but have our own thing going,” Lynsey said. “I think college allowed us even more room to do that. But at the same time, we still got to be roommates and hear about each other's experiences.”
It also allowed the girls to become stronger versions of themselves.
“When you grow up as a twin there is constant comparison,” Layne said. “That's the darker side of being a twin that people don't think about. Growing up, people would say things that would make us feel competitive, always wondering which twin is prettier, or skinnier, or smarter. You take on certain interests and behaviors to try to be your own person but as you get older, you wonder if you actually liked those things, or if you were just trying to be seen as an individual.”
Texas Tech gave each twin an opportunity to find her own way.
“Layne was in President's Select and served as a student government senator for the COMC,” Lynsey said. “She's really great with people and is very polished and outgoing so she thrived doing those sorts of things.”
Layne is quick to turn the limelight back on Lynsey.
“That may be true, but Lynsey is this beautiful creative who just flourished in our time at Texas Tech,” Layne said. “She was the music chairman for our sorority which was a big deal. She was so good at it, and it helps that she has one of the prettiest voices I've ever heard.”
Music was a tradition Lynsey carried on from their grandmother who had been part of Las Chaparritas, the first sorority on campus. Not only that, but Mary Eva also had been a singer and archived songs that were dear to her chapter.
“It's really special to look back and see how my grandmother and I both shared this experience,” Lynsey said. “I love looking over the songs she sang and knowing we're connected in that way, even though she isn't with us anymore.”
Walter and Mary Eva didn't live to see their granddaughters graduate from Texas Tech, but the girls know they would be proud.
Since their graduation in 2016, the twins have only continued to thrive.
“Layne recently moved to Colorado, and it's been hard to have the other half of me somewhere else, but it's been amazing to watch her spread her wings,” Lynsey said.
Layne took a job with Milestone Technology in the Denver area and recently became engaged.
“It's been a whirlwind,” Layne said. “I love life here, but I miss Lynsey a lot. When you're a twin you have a built-in best friend. There aren't words to really describe what it's like to be understood by her.
While Lynsey is adjusting to life in Lubbock without Layne, she stays busy as the director of communications and marketing for Texas Tech's College of Architecture.
“I feel tremendous pride knowing I followed in my grandparents' footsteps,” Lynsey said. “Graduating from their alma mater was a huge moment for me and now to be working for Texas Tech, it's more than I could have ever imagined. I really think they would be thrilled. I just hope I'm able to honor their lives and leave a lasting impact in the same way they did.”
When the twins were asked about their favorite memory from attending Texas Tech together, their answer was unanimous.
“Graduation,” they both said.
“The coolest part of being in the same college was experiencing graduation together,” Layne said. “I remember watching Lynsey walk across the stage, and I had a front row seat for it. It was really emotional. Getting through college wasn't something we took for granted.”
“Commencement was special because it was the last step in a very long journey,” Lynsey said. “We worked so hard to get to that point and graduation was a huge life goal for us. It also felt like our grandparents were looking down on us with pride. I get goosebumps thinking about it, and I know they'd be so proud. Like them, Layne and I both graduated, and we did it together.”