Stand By Me

Abigail Rickli and her twin sister, Avery Rickli, are alike in the ways you’d imagine twins to be: They played the same sports, earned the same scholarships in high school, chose the same university, elected the same major and live in the same apartment. In conversation, they regularly finish each other’s sentences. Avery jokingly describes their relationship as “Copy/Paste.”

They have something else in common that sets them apart: They’ve stuck together through a childhood and adolescence full of trauma and upheaval.

The Ricklis grew up in California with a mother prone to addiction, rage and neglect. When they were 10, they were removed from the home and placed in foster care, separated from their older sister and brother. Their foster mother eventually adopted the twins, but they were miserable in their new family; they describe their adoptive mother as short-tempered and controlling and say she kept them from their biological siblings for five years. Eventually, social workers intervened. When the twins were 15, they returned to foster care and years later reunited with their biological siblings.

Through it all, the Ricklis excelled in school and sports. “School was always the one thing in our control,” Abigail explains, adding, “The stereotype of teenage foster kids is that they’re reckless, crazy teenagers on drugs. We were fighting so hard against that stigma. We were not going to be like that.”

They also were determined to go to college, even though only 3% to 4% of former foster youth get a four-year degree, according to the National Foster Youth Institute. They chose TTUHSC because they have family and friends attending Texas Tech University and because of the strong reputation of TTUHSC’s nursing program. “We knew that we could see ourselves here,” says Avery.

Given their backstory, it’s not surprising that they chose to go into a helping profession — Abigail wants to work in either intensive care or emergency-room nursing. “Chaos is just very normal for me,” she says. Avery is considering psychiatric nursing. “I love psych, especially working with children, because I love to empathize with them.”

Portrait photograph perspective of Abigail Rickli and her twin sister, Avery Rickli outside in a snowy cold Christmas village location looking at each other in the eyes as they both smile as one of the sisters is wearing a black long-sleeve shirt with an open tan colored cardigan button-up shirt, blue denim jeans, and a pearl colored necklace and the other sister is wearing a white puffy jacket with a green long sleeve shirt plus white jeans
Regardless of what area of nursing they each choose after graduation, they’ll remain steadfast in their support of each other — after all, sticking together is what got them this far. Abigail says, “Everything has always been so inconsistent, but the one thing that has been consistent and constant is each other.”