High-Achieving Bruzzese Sisters Will Have You Doing Double Take

Identical twins share major, study abroad experience, academic success

Alexandra (Allie) and Francesca Bruzzese ’11, identical twins from East Greenwich, R.I., share much more than just DNA. Accepted as early decision applicants, they both double major in Italian and Spanish, studied abroad in Bologna, Italy, and currently rank third and fourth in the Class of 2011 based on grade point average.

Throughout high school, Allie and Francesca noticed their academic achievements matched up, and they shared natural talent for the same subjects. Even within specific courses, they grasped concepts at the same time and — on the flip side — noticed that they got the same questions wrong on tests. It wasn’t a surprise, then, that they gravitated toward the same language study.

“From their very first semester here, it was clear that Allie and Francesca were outstanding students,” says Mark Freeman, dean of the class of 2011. “They've compiled nearly identical records of achievement, both of them landing at the very top of the class every semester they've been here. I don't know what went on in the Bruzzese household, but it has culminated in these two extraordinary women, sharing much of their lives and great successes with one another.”

Their outstanding academic success has been built on unique strengths. Both are independent workers when it comes to preparing for quizzes and exams. Though they review material with each other from time to time, they have their own unique studying habits.

“Even though we do have the same strengths and a lot of things in common, our personalities are pretty different,” says Francesca.

Since their common course of study lends to a nearly identical class schedule, these differences are much clearer beyond the classroom. While Francesca is a cook, Allie stays away from the kitchen except to eat the delicious meals her sister prepares. When Allie took up the cello, Francesca opted out. Though Francesca tends to wake up early, Allie is slow to rise.

“Sometimes you need to do things a little differently to distinguish yourself as an individual,” explains Allie, whose longer and lighter hair is a marked distinction from Francesca’s shorter, darker cut.

Though being referred to as “the twins” can be frustrating, the sisters agree that the benefits of having each other around far outweigh the negatives.

“Coming to college with my sister was like having a built-in friend,” says Allie. “Especially going abroad to another country.”

Francesca adds, “It’s also a really great icebreaker to meet new friends. Everyone always has tons of ‘twin questions.’ ”

Life after college will offer an opportunity for the two to distinguish themselves even further. While they both hope to return to Italy, their specific goals may have them in different areas of the country. Francesca applied for a Fulbright Scholarship and is considering a Ph.D. in Italian while Allie hopes to teach English in Italy before attending graduate school.