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Freshman triplets stay close, keep distance

By : Meghan Lynch

From left, Victoria, Alexis and Dana Stecker.
Your eyes aren’t playing tricks.

You’re seeing triplets. And you’re not alone, as many across campus have made the same double-take at the sisterly trifecta.

Meet Alexis, Dana and Victoria Stecker, newly arrived Binghamton University freshmen.

Sidle up. Say hello. Just don’t let them hear you say the “T” word.

They love each other, sure. Yet they bristle at the natural comparisons. They want to be together — just not too close. For them, being sisters is a defining force. Being triplets is exhausting.

The Stecker sisters are the second set of “Ts” to grace this campus is recent memory. The Frechette brothers — Louis, Wesley and Samuel — graduated in 2002. University officials aren’t aware of any other triplets, since no specific tracking system exists for recalling such connections.

So the Steckers from Syosset, quite likely the first female Binghamton triple play, look at their BU experience as a fresh start. Each wants her own experience and new horizon.

But each, too, wants a view of her sister’s vista, only from a cozy distance. It’s been this way for a while.

Alexis, Dana and Victoria look enough alike, sound a lot alike and maybe even at times think alike. But their individual idiosyncrasies quickly bubble to the surface. Alexis is the spokes-sister. She’s demanding and a chatty Cathy. She’s a mother hen.

Dana acts youngest of the three, coming off on the shy side. Belying that timidity, though, she’s also most protective of the sisterhood.

Vicky is laid back, ever observing. While Dana’s on guard and Alexis pipes up, Vicky, described by her sisters as “naturally smart,” absorbs it all.

And Alexis has direction, even as she cuts off one sister.

“If I see a goal, I’ll go out and get it,” she said, interrupting Dana, who doesn’t mind.

Said Dana, laughing: “We tend to finish each other’s sentences.”

This ultra-familiarity is a large part of why Dana knew she wasn’t ready to cut strings just yet. Being at Binghamton, the sisters agreed, is a gradual segue.

“This is a transition where I see them, but I don’t see them every day,” said Dana. “This is like a stepping stone.”

“I came to college to become my own person and find my own goals,” reiterated Vicky.

The sisters all live in College-in-the-Woods, but in separate buildings.

“As much as we love each other, we need a year or two to have a vacation from each other,” said Dana, mentioning that the three shared a bedroom their entire lives before moving onto campus.

In considering where to attend college, the Steckers didn’t all initially agree on coming to Binghamton. But reality eventually set in for Alexis.

“When it came down to tuition and realizing I would be away from my sisters for months, I couldn’t,” she said, mentioning that the longest they’d ever been separated was a month during a summer teen tour. “We’re best friends. I’m really happy to be here now. I’d say this is the best school for me.”

As the sisters search for separate selves, having divergent career goals helps.

Alexis said law school is in her future. Dana hopes for a job in industrial psychology. And because she loves children, Vicky is looking ahead to teaching in some capacity.

And Binghamton University affords the threesome a social proving ground they’ve never really had.

“We think it’s ridiculous when twins dress alike,” said Alexis. “We hated dressing alike, and our parents knew we hated it.

“And some teachers would group us together. We absolutely hate being grouped as the triplets,” she said. “If we’re in the same class we become very competitive, but if we’re not, then we encourage each other to work hard.”

For payback to teachers who’d treat them as one entity, the sisters played the usual pranks, they said. In third grade Dana and Alexis got away with switching spots in class. The next year Vicky and Dana tried it, but got snagged.

All in all, being together so much has had its advantages. At Syosset High, for example, they were a triple threat on the school’s debate team, competing together, but against one another as well. When Alexis emerged as the state championship-caliber debater, her sisters went along to Albany as her cheering squad.

They agreed that despite occasionally cringing at their situation, they’ve learned from experiences like that to always have one another’s backs.

As college freshmen, they speak every day and they keep no secrets, they said. Binghamton is opening new doors for them and creating space that never before existed.

The Steckers are a team, but they’re also on their own. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08