“Whenever we go anywhere and people find out we’re quadruplets, one of the first things they say is ‘Well bless your mother,’ ” says Kate Lomaka.
21-year-old Kate and her three brothers Chris, Greg and Steve made history in 2012 when they became the first set of quadruplets to enroll at Virginia Tech.
“We made a plan that said we’d pay for half of our college and our parents would pay for half of our college,” says Chris.
Their mom, Tina, a labor and delivery nurse, took on full-time night shifts to help put them through college. This schedule allows her to keep her days free to look after her youngest son, Matt, who has Down syndrome.
“Nobody I think ever wants to work night shifts, no one wants to be up from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. and sleep for 6 hours and do it all over again, but she does it because she knows that she’s helping us get through college,” Kate tells PEOPLE.
“I can’t stress enough how much my mom has sacrificed,” adds Chris. “She never asks for anything, she’s so selfless.”
That selfless attitude, Greg says has “rubbed off on all of us.”
“I credit all my hard-working abilities and my work ethic to [my parents],” he adds. “They’re definitely the two hardest working people that I’ve ever met.”
The road to Tech
While they grew up extremely close, the Lomaka quadruplets pursued different interests high school and set their sights on various in-state universities.
“I was kind of a Hokie from the start,” says Steve of the school’s mascot. “When I was growing up I saw Virginia Tech football and all that and I was like ‘yeah that’s where I wanna go’ ”
After a series of dashed hopes, acceptances, deferrals and a deposit at another university, the final Lomaka sibling to receive his acceptance letter was Chris.
“He started crying because he was so happy it was so exciting,” Steve tells PEOPLE.
Upon hearing the news, parents Steve and Tina Lomaka rushed the quads out the door to go buy Virginia Tech gear.
“Our mom of course took a picture to document the moment,” adds Greg, the oldest. “It was really cool to all realize that we were all heading in the same direction for college.”
“It almost felt a little bit too comfortable,” Kate tells PEOPLE. “I was thinking about the twelve years we’d already been in school together – and now we were getting four more – and wondering, how is that going to work out?”
Kate says the siblings knew they’d need to build separate lives when they made the big move together.
“We had talked about it going in like, ‘Guys, we love each other, but we’re going to find ourselves. We’re going to grow as individuals and not just a quad.’ ”
The foursome pursued separate activities and enrolled in different colleges within the university but remained extremely close.
“Being an RA, I now realize that freshmen here do get homesick and it is quite a tough transition from high school to college,” Greg reflects. “But considering like half of our family is here with me I never really had that homesick feeling.”
Greg says it’s their many shared interests that make it easy to find time together.
“We all go to church together and we were on the same intramural football team. We’ve found ways to find time together but really I never bump into them around campus.”
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The family that spins together
While the brothers get together to play basketball a few times a week, Steve and Greg have also made a habit of joining Kate at the gym.
Greg calls the spin classes she teaches the highlight of his week. “I like to be a little more outgoing and vibrant when Kate’s teaching,” he tells PEOPLE. “I like to scream a little bit more, try to get the mood raised in there.”
“He does!” confirms Kate. “It’s actually a good thing because then he encourages other people to not be afraid to speak or scream out.”
Steve – a high school athlete – calls the class “the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
Preparing to part
Like college juniors finishing the semester around the country, post-grad planning is a major pre-occupation.
“I think we’ve all realized that we’d want to stay probably in the Richmond area around our parents,” says Greg. “Free food and a free stay at their house: you cant beat that.”
Steve admits he has been looking at law schools outside of Virginia. “I think it’s definitely going to be new because I’ve been around my siblings my whole life,” he says.
“Everyone asks ‘What’s it like to be one of 6 kids?’ ” says Chris. “It’s normal to me I’ve grown up with this my whole life and it has been an absolute blessing.”
“I always ask kids who are only children the same thing – they must get so lonely.”