A photo of two women sitting at a table covered in objects.
Twin sisters Anna (left) and Gabby Carter, who will graduate in May, are both majoring in anthropology and minoring in art history at VCU. (Kevin Morley, Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

Class of 2024: Identical twins Gabby and Anna Carter have traveled their own paths – often together

Anthropology majors and art history minors have embraced the humanities and opportunities to work in the field.

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As identical twins, Gabby and Anna Carter have been in each other’s pockets for their entire lives. The Virginia Commonwealth University students live together, go to the same classes and, in May, will both graduate with degrees in anthropology.

“I did do it first, though, I will say,” Gabby said.

Indeed, though they’ve ended up in the same place, the Carters didn’t get there by traveling the same path. Gabby came into VCU with her anthropology major already declared – by accident, she said. “I don’t know how it happened, but [I decided] I’d just stick with it, see how it is, and it worked out.”

By contrast, Anna arrived at VCU with a different route in mind. At first, she thought about psychology, but by the middle of her sophomore year, she chose both anthropology and art history. After realizing she wouldn’t be able to graduate in four years with a double major, she made art history a minor instead, mirroring Gabby.

The twins’ academic interest took hold at Monacan High School’s Center for the Humanities, a specialty program that allowed them to explore their curiosities.

“It’s a bit of nurture there from the program versus us just wanting to be the same,” Anna said. “A lot of people, when they hear we’re the same major and minor, they’re like, ‘Oh, it’s because you’re twins.’ I’m like, ‘Well…’”

“It’s actually just a cool major,” Gabby interjected.

Over spring break this year, Gabby and Anna took their first plane trip as they traveled to Hawaii with Bernard Means, Ph.D., an anthropology teaching associate professor in the School of World Studies and director of the Virtual Curation Laboratory in the College of Humanities and Sciences. Their project, for the Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program, is digitally documenting Native Hawaiian cultural artifacts and heritage using inexpensive technology and software.

“We’d never been west of Virginia,” Gabby said. “I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve been out of the state for more than 12 hours.”

Two women sitting next to each other holding objects. The woman on the left is holding a statue bust, and the woman on the right is holding a skull.
Anna (left) and Gabby Carter have impressed during their time at VCU with their "scholarship, creativity and especially in how they have embraced experiential learning opportunities beyond the classroom," according to Bernard Means, associate professor. (Kevin Morley, Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

Means has worked with the Carter twins frequently during their time at VCU. He said he is impressed with their “scholarship, creativity and especially in how they have embraced experiential learning opportunities beyond the classroom.

“Anna and Gabby were the only other members of the VCU team [in Hawaii] and were integral to the success of this project, notably in their interactions with individual members of different Native Hawaiian organizations,” Means said. “They demonstrated how our 3D digital humanities approach made Hawaiian heritage more accessible, especially to places with restricted access and for individuals who were mobility challenged.”

Besides some travel troubles, the trip was productive and fun, the twins said. In their time off, they visited museums, enjoyed local fare (including Zippy’s, a revered Hawaiian diner chain) and soaked in the island vibe.

“Everyone was so nice,” Gabby said. “And it was so fun. Even when we were outside for like 14 hours [straight], it was still so fun.”

Since coming to VCU, Gabby and Anna have done many things together, from serving as technicians in the Virtual Curation Laboratory to lifeguarding at Cary Street Gym. But more and more, they’ve found their paths diverging as well.

After graduation, Anna, who is currently interning with the Virginia Museum of History & Cultures education department, will head to archaeological field school, while Gabby will begin an excavation internship with Historic Germanna in Orange County.

Eventually, Anna would like to go to graduate school and work in education or library and information sciences. Gabby would like “to try on different hats and see what fits,” she said. But with hopes to pursue a master’s degree in education, she – just like her twin sister – sees more education in the future.