Mindy and Megan Earnest are fraternal twins who could easily pass for identical. Both are engineering majors in the Calhoun Honors College and active in Tiger Band. It’s easy to see how people get them confused — just ask some of the people who have mistakenly had a conversation with one sister expecting her to be the other.

Hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee, Mindy and Megan both chose Clemson for similar reasons but avoided talking about it before making the big decision. “We announced our final choice at the same time so we didn’t influence each other, but we were also looking for the same things in a school, like a good college town and a nice campus feel. Clemson fit both of those,” said Megan.

Portrait of Megan and Mindy Earnest

Members of Tiger Band and future engineers, Megan and Mindy Earnest.
Image Credit: Clemson University

Still, the twins went different ways when it came to declaring their major concentrations after freshman year. Mindy, more math-minded, settled on electrical engineering, while Megan chose industrial engineering, which offers a more business-focused approach. After completing successful co-ops at different engineering companies, both sisters say they plan to pursue careers that center on research. And if possible, they’d like to wind up living close to each other. But like many soon-to-be college graduates, they both feel confident in going wherever a job may take them.

Different strokes

In music, as in academics, the things the Earnest sisters share are also the things that distinguish them: Mindy plays the trumpet and Megan the piccolo. And while many people with siblings may find it hard to envision spending so much time with a sister or brother, the Earnests have a refreshing point of view, seeing their shared time as a helpful advantage.

“There’s always someone to keep you accountable. Back when we were in the same engineering classes we always had someone there to do homework with and ask questions,” said Megan.

Mindy quickly echoed the sentiment. “There’s always someone there who thinks more like you. It makes it easier to explain concepts to each other,” she said, even when they’re working in different subjects.

Shared memories

Freshman year was a hallmark one for Mindy and Megan, and not just because it was the last time they took a class together. It was also the same year they took the field with Tiger Band for the first time.

In 2013, the Tigers opened their football season against Georgia, playing at home. ESPN’s “College GameDay” held its broadcast from Bowman Field early that morning, and by 8 p.m., the sun was setting in Death Valley. Balmy weather intensified the mass of Clemson fans packed into the stadium to witness the first win of the season. At the center of the field amidst a sea of orange were Mindy and Megan, clad in their uniforms and holding their instruments, ready to play “Tiger Rag.”

“That first game freshman year against Georgia was just absurd. It was so loud. You’re used to practicing at band camp when it’s quiet and just us, and then we got to the pregame, and I couldn’t hear anything but the crowd screaming,” said Mindy. “It was surreal. I remember thinking this is not high school band. This is going to be a fun four years.”

This game not only showed them just how passionate Clemson fans could be, but it also set the tone for the rest of their playing careers. Said Megan, “It’s a really cool feeling. Every pregame is fun. That one just doesn’t get old.”

Mindy and Megan Earnest in their Tiger Band uniforms

Mindy and Megan Earnest have been playing music since grade school, and they are now members of Tiger Band.
Image Credit: Provided

Music has always played a large role in the Earnests’ lives. Having both played piano as kids, Mindy and Megan picked up different instruments in elementary school and continued playing up until their senior year of high school. At that point, they decided they weren’t yet ready to give up their music careers and looked to play in a college band. While the band allows them to continue a passion they’ve had since the fifth grade, both sisters agree the best part about Tiger Band isn’t musical, but rather social.

“There are so many people in band that I don’t even see Mindy during practice,” said Megan. “It actually works out well because you get to expand your friend groups. She found hers, I found mine, and then we combined them,” Mindy said.

Lean on me

Indeed, don’t look for any sibling rivalry here — there’s no competition between the two. “We get along really well. We make it a point to do things together. It just kind of happens that we have the same interests and both end up doing similar things,” said Megan.

From the big decisions to the smaller ones, the sisters (who are also roomates) seem to be constantly in sync, even unintentionally choosing the same outfit from time to time. According to Mindy, “Whoever comes out first gets dibs.”

Agreeing on everything from their favorite spot on campus (the amphitheater) to their favorite Clemson restaurant (Yolk Asian Kitchen, because it’s “fun” and “different”), Mindy and Megan embody the idea of Clemson Family on campus. Being able to manage heavy engineering course loads, maintain high GPAs in the Honors College and participate in a more demanding extracurricular activity is more possible with a good support system in place; Mindy and Megan are proof.

Mindy and Megan Earnest on campus

The Earnest sisters from Knoxville, Tennessee, share more than clothes and a love of music: They share the Clemson Family.
Image Credit: Provided

Just be careful — if you run into one sister and mistake her for the other, she probably won’t correct you.

“I’ll be walking on campus and hear Megan’s name and think to myself, ‘I should probably just answer’,” says Mindy.

Megan agrees. “Sometimes one of Mindy’s professors will think I’m her, and I’ll just listen. Then when I get home I’m like, ‘Hey Mindy, here’s what they said. You might want to talk to them.’”

Now that’s love.