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Jake, Jenna and Jacquelyn Williams, right, triplets from White Plains, all made separate decisions to attend Binghamton University.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Commencement 2014 profile: Jake, Jacque, Jenna Williams
May 12, 2014Tweet
Jacque Williams had a look of disbelief on her face when siblings Jake and Jenna offered their first word to describe her: organized.
“That’s the best you’ve got, guys?” Jacque said with a laugh.
“We’re getting there,” Jenna replied. “We’re just going to keep it simple for now.”
The Williams triplets, who will graduate this month from Harpur College, used words such as “ambitious,” “hard-working,” “dedicated” and “helpful” to describe each other. They are high-spirited siblings who are as likely to playfully give each other grief as they are to praise each other.
“This is a school where you can develop your own identity,” Jenna said with a rapid-fire delivery. “We were able to have our own life with that distance and separation in between. In high school, a lot of people would just refer to us as ‘the triplets.’ Here, we didn’t have that. Some people didn’t realize I had two siblings on campus.”
“Whoa! Take a breath!” Jake advised.
“Breathe!” Jacque added.
The siblings are 22 years old and from White Plains, N.Y. Jake is a minute older than Jacque. (“He takes advantage of it, too,” Jenna said. ‘Special privileges,” Jake responded.) Jacque is a minute older than Jenna.
The Williams’ parents left the college decision up to each of them.
“Being triplets, we had to make our college experience affordable,” Jenna said. “We looked at other schools and got into other schools. It came down to price and the fact that Binghamton has a great reputation: the Ivy League of SUNY. That’s why we applied to Binghamton.”
The decision to attend Binghamton was made separately by each sibling, Jake said.
“It wasn’t something that we decided together,” he said. “We all intended to go to different schools and we all separately decided to come here.”
“The difference at Binghamton University was the people,” Jacque said. “I felt like they were down-to-earth and outgoing. The campus culture was something I valued.”
And the family’s reaction to the news?
“Crying with happiness!” Jacque said.
“I can’t even imagine what commencement would be like if we were at different schools,” Jake said. “It was hard enough coordinating going home for breaks and moving in and out (each year).”
Jake added that the only disadvantage to being triplets is “waiting for Jenna to get ready to leave for break.”
“Let me tell you: I was ready this spring break,” Jenna responded. “I was early and I was ready first!”
“That does not cancel out the other times,” Jacque said.
At Binghamton, Jake majors in economics; Jenna majors in psychology, while Jacque is a double-major in economics and Spanish. Jake and Jacque usually saw each other daily in economics classes. The two said they saw Jenna a couple of times per week and they all would text a few times per day.
“Our parents taught us the value of being siblings,” Jenna said. “For me, family is the priority – the No. 1. Spending time with them or taking care of them is on the top of my priority list.”
Outside of class, Jacque and Jenna work as resident assistants – Jacque in CIW and Jenna in Newing. Jenna also served as head coach for the swim club and as a public speaking consultant. Jacque was the president of the swim club and editor-in-chief of Her Campus.
Jake, meanwhile, has already lined up a job at digitasLBi, a global marketing and technology agency in New York City.
After graduation, Jenna plans to pursue a graduate degree in industrial organizational psychology. Jacque is debating between a public-relations position in New York City and a summer internship in Spain.
One person who knows the siblings is Jennifer Wegmann, a faculty member in the Department of Health and Wellness Studies. Wegmann and her classes helped the triplets develop their identities and confidence, Jenna said.
“I had each of them in at least one of the classes I teach,” Wegmann said, “They are each wonderful in their own unique ways. Although different in many ways, Jenna, Jacque and Jake are motivated, driven and passionate young adults. I am thankful I had an opportunity to get to know them as they have enriched both my classroom and my life.”
Each of the siblings offered something they believe is essential for achieving success. For Jacque, it’s persistence and positive thinking.
“Negativity never comes to mind,” she said. “I’m an optimist. And I look to Jake and Jenna whenever I’ve tried to get through the hard moments.”
“We’ve always been well balanced,” Jake said. “Our parents made that a part of our lives. Be hard-working in school, but be social, too. Connect with people outside of your family. Be active and athletic. I don’t think you want to put all of your eggs in one basket.”
“It’s about having an innate ambition,” Jenna said. “You can have it – but do you realize that you actually have that potential? Sometimes people say: ‘I can’t do this; I can’t do that.’ Yes, you can. If you take your skill and your drive, you can make things work.”
As they prepare for their first extended time away from each other, the siblings stressed how friends and professors have defined their Binghamton experience.
“I’m walking away thankful that I have a job,” Jake said. “But the most important thing is that I’m walking away with so many good friends. I’ve met the most accepting, wonderful people here. I don’t know if I would’ve made the same group of friends if I went to another school.”
“I feel like I’m leaving Binghamton University with the power to create a legacy and the power to make a difference no matter where I am,” Jenna said. “The people here care about you. They want me to go after my endeavors. They want me to feel that passion. I’ve learned so much from them. They empower you to leave that legacy and that is crucial. That’s what support is all about.”