- Associated Press - Saturday, May 21, 2016

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - After four years with four tuition bills, four majors and four college experiences, Virginia Tech’s quadruplets have graduated together.

The Lomakas of Richmond are Tech’s only set of quadruplets to enroll at the school and over the past four years they’ve grown separately into people who will begin adulthood scattered across the globe.

Greg, Steve, Chris and Kate Lomaka were in Lane Stadium on May 13 celebrating their graduation, one last event together after a lifetime of accomplishments as a group.

They were joined by more than 5,000 graduates in a ceremony that featured a keynote speech from people who exposed the Flint, Michigan, water crisis: Tech engineering professor Marc Edwards and Flint pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha.

About 63 percent of students who entered Tech in 2011 graduated in four years, according to data from Tech’s office of institutional research.

Greg got a degree with a major in statistics; Steve in business information technology; Chris in building construction and real estate; and Kate in human nutrition, foods and exercise.

The Lomaka quads - as they say they’re commonly known among friends - were born in the span of four minutes to Tina and Steve Lomaka.

Tina and Steve got married in 1982 and struggled to have children. They adopted their oldest daughter Lauren - who is about to graduate from the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, also in Blacksburg.

But they continued to try to have children. And in 1993, Tina gave birth to the quadruplets. The children were born within the span of four minutes just before midnight on Oct. 4.

A couple of years after the quads were born, Steve, who is the chief financial officer for Metro Group Inc. in Richmond, and Tina, a nurse, had another child, Matt.

The quadruplets spent a lot of time together both in and out of school , not because they had to, but because they had many of the same interests. Their parents assumed they would go off to different colleges. The quads assumed so, too. Other than Steve, they all applied to different schools in addition to Virginia Tech.

But when it came time to pick a college, the younger Steve, a self-proclaimed “big Hokie fan” led the way. The other three credit Steve’s interest in the campus as a reason they first became interested. Virginia Tech and all it had to offer did the rest.

When they first arrived, the quadruplets spent a lot of time together, they said, even though they lived in different residence halls. They often grabbed meals together during their college days and all four would gather to attend Hokie football games.

“The biggest part of the transition to college is being away from your family,” Greg said. “But with us, we brought half of our family to Tech.”

Three of the four, excluding Chris, became resident assistants at Virginia Tech; Greg and Steve joined the same fraternity.

Sibling rivalry - especially for Chris, who was the only Lomaka quad to live off campus - became a driver to achieve. Chris came in with no college credit and entered a major that requires 14 more hours than most. That meant he worked hard in summer classes back home in Richmond to get extra credits.

“You never want to be the one who doesn’t graduate when the other three graduate,” Chris said. “You don’t want to be the one who strays too far away because people are always comparing you to the other three.”

The quads spent more time studying and working on academics in their last couple of years on campus, they said. They didn’t really grow apart so much as their lives simply became a little more separated. It’s probably good preparation for what’s to come for the college graduates.

They each know what they’ll be doing after graduation: Greg will go abroad for a year, training with an insurance company in Wales before working for that company in Richmond. Steve has a job lined up in Northern Virginia. Chris will be working for a contracting firm in Hawaii. And Kate will be enrolled in graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The fact that they’ve graduated and hit the real world really hasn’t hit the quads yet, Greg said. Life will undoubtedly be different without the siblings together.

Before they scatter and their lives become as hectic as usual, Tina said, the big family will do something they haven’t done since they had one daughter in medical school and four kids enroll in college: take a vacation. The family will take a trip to Mexico before they all disperse into their separate lives.

“We’ll miss Blacksburg,” Tina said before pausing and taking a breath. “But, you know what? We’ll definitely come back to visit.”

___

Information from: The Roanoke Times, http://www.roanoke.com

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