At some time in our lives, each of us has wished to have someone who understood us on a more personal level. We have craved for someone who knew exactly what we were thinking without the use of words or signals. We have yearned for someone who could complete our sentences and for someone who would always support us no matter what.
For some, luck has brought them their other half, whether it’s in a best friend or a significant other. But for Nikki and Kendal Lyssy, finding their other half was as simple as being born.
As identical twins, it’s no surprise that these freshmen, english major Nikki Lyssy and her sister, converged broadcast media major Kendal Lyssy, puzzle people on campus who often mistake one for the other. However, aside from their identical looks, DNA and big hearts, Nikki and Kendal share something more in common, something more intimate. They were both born with Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a condition that develops among premature babies and hinders proper eyesight development.
Despite what some may consider a disability, the Lyssy twins view their condition as a blessing.
“We have had opportunities that other people have not had,” says Nikki. “For us, this is all we have ever known and I could not imagine living any other way.”
And while they may face certain challenges that may never confront other teens their age, such as learning how to drive, “which would not be safe,” Nikki jokingly quips, these girls do not allow their differences to prevent them from living out their dreams.
Nikki recently switched her major from journalism to english in creative writing. Just like many of us, she is finding herself and discovering her true passions.
“I really love getting to know people. I love hearing people’s stories and getting to tell them,” she gushes. “The news, while it is very important, is not something that I want to write everyday. I felt as if hard news was just not my style.”
Doubling the Support for their Future
Like most twins, Nikki describes the connection with her sister as unbelievable and undeniably special.
“It is truly the most incredible experience,” says Nikki. “You just have that person who understands you, no matter what. She is my best friend, someone who I look up to and I am so blessed to be a twin.”
She speaks with a level of passion and excitement about her sister’s plans for the future. In a tone that could only be described as supportive, Nikki says, “Kendal is amazing. She wants to be a DJ and have a syndicated radio show! She is studying converged broadcast media, mainly the science behind radio. She wants to play music that makes people happy.”
These girls do not seem to let anything faze them; they are believers in what they can achieve. They never focus on what stands in their way of success.
“For us, we knew there was no way we could not go to the same school,” says Nikki. She describes living with her look-a-like as the most ideal setting any sister, any best friend, could ask for.
“Living together is so much fun because we really are together most of the day. We have those days where we sleep in until 10 o’clock on Saturday mornings, wake up and just hang out all day long. It almost feels like we are at home.”
“At home” is exactly how we all seem to feel on the UNT campus.
“We just love the culture on this campus,” say Nikki. “Everyone is so friendly and we just really appreciate the fact that everyone wanted to learn a little more about us.”
And as for the most fun part of constantly being around their doppelgänger?
Nikki jokingly says, “We always say the same thing in sync. It is so funny because people who don’t know that there are two of us think we are the same person.”
As we completed our brief chat, Nikki expressed how proud she was to represent the blind community and how she would love to educate people more on what it means to be visually impaired. She is absolutely grateful to have her sister by her side, every step of the way, and looks forward to their future here at UNT.
If you can spot the difference between these two peas in a pod, be sure to stop by and say hello to Nikki and Kendal—they are both worth getting to know!
** Click here to learn more about the blind community and the philosophy on blindness at the National Federation of the Blind’s website.