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Frannie and Gabby Sands’ stories have been intertwined since birth. They are Meridian Sophomores and twins so, chronologically, only a moment separates them.

Frannie & Gabby Sands

When asked, Frannie smiles proudly and suggests that she’s one minute older. They’ve spent their lives in Pulaski County, first living outside of Mounds and later in Mounds City.


Their connection brings up an obvious question—are they identical or fraternal twins? Gabby says they look nothing alike, only to sheepishly admit that they are identical twins and only their haircuts separate them. “She has bangs and I don’t,” admits Gabby with a grin. She later adds that she’s the shortest person in Meridian High School but pridefully states that it “doesn’t hold me back.”


When talking to Gabby and Frannie, it’s easy to get lost in comparing and contrasting the twin sisters, a game they’ve likely been nudged to play throughout their lives. Gabby likes pop music, while Frannie listens to country. They both envision living in Michigan, probably due to a strong connection with their grandfather, who resides in Sherwood, Michigan, a small village even smaller than Mounds, about 125 miles west-bysouthwest of Detroit.


Both have played basketball for as long as they can remember, playing for Meridian since fifth grade. They played at a small church while visiting their grandmother in Cairo at an even earlier age.


Gabby enjoys skateboarding up and down her neighborhood streets and has traveled to Cape Girardeau to visit its skatepark. Frannie loves to fish. Both sisters excel in school and appreciate math and science courses, whether through nature, nurture, or a combination of the two. While they channel it in unique ways, both display compassion for those who struggle.


But at the end of the day, Frannie and Gabby are two teenagers with unique dreams.


Frannie keeps a very close eye on her academics. Except for one class—an English course—she’s earned straight A’s throughout high school. Her compassion is evident. She wants to study veterinary science and become a veterinarian specializing in farm animals.


“It hurts me to see animals hurt, so I just want to help out,” Frannie says. “I want to live in a big house on a hill with lots of acreage for horses, cows, goats, everything.”


Realizing the long road ahead, Frannie is pragmatic. She plans to attend community college and prioritizes having a job that allows her to be what she describes as somewhat financially stable while completing college. Taking care of others, especially those in need, is a theme throughout the conversation. She is focused on the less fortunate and wants to volunteer in homeless shelters and help provide those in need with food and shelter from the elements.

She mentions struggling when she was younger and wants to live in a world where everyone feels safe. She admits, “I used to get bullied, but I now know how to stand up for myself. I don’t care what people think. It’s about me. It’s not about them.”


After a moment of reflection, she sums it up by saying, “We’re all the same person; it’s just what shows outside that is different.”


Gabby wants to study engineering and become a mechanical engineer. Like her sister, she is a strong student who earns A’s and enjoys math and science. She considers Mrs. Harris and Mrs. Scarborough two of her favorite teachers, with biology a favorite subject.


Self-doubt is an obstacle that Gabby has struggled with in the past. She wishes she could have told her younger self, “Never give up on the work you’re doing, as I used to give up a lot in middle school.”


She is grateful for her friends and family’s role in her life, saying, “They have always helped me when I was down. They push me to do what they believe I can do even if I doubt myself.”


This support is a gift she recognizes and tries to return, saying she always tries to help her friends when they need it.


Frannie and Gabby have always had strong women in their lives. While their father hasn’t been active in their lives, their mother and grandmother’s strength and dedication inspire them. They were very close to their Grandma Carol. Their grandma was a daily presence in their lives until she passed away some years ago. Frannie described her as “the most cheerful person she knew.”


“My mother has been there my whole life, and she’s a role model for me,” says Frannie, playfully adding, “after all, she’s kept up with Gabby and me. She’s a single mom to our seventeen-year-old sister and the two of us.”


Gabby expresses a similar sentiment: she wants to “get money to pay my family back for all they have done for me when I was younger.”


Gabby goes into more detail, adding, “We say the same things sometimes when someone asks us something.” She says so rather matter-of-fact manner as if it’s expected.


There is a special connection between these two sisters. They both know what to say or do at the exact same time. But only sometimes. Frannie plays it down the middle when asked about their similarities, saying, “We share some things. In some ways, we’re alike. It’s not everything.”


Regardless of the extent of their connection and where their futures may take them, one thing is evident: compassion is the cornerstone of the decisions they make and will continue to inform their futures.

We’re all the same person; it’s just what shows outside that is different.
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