A set of quadruplets who graduated on the same day from the same university said accepting their degrees side by side was the most special moment of their lives.
Jake, Lexi, Hannah and Rachel Jones, 21, donned their caps and gowns after four years of study at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, USA.
The quadruplets, who were born within four minutes of each other in November 1997, have been inseparable since birth and attended the same elementary, middle and high school – and even went to prom together.
They bunked in the same college halls after all being accepted to the same university and revised together in the library in preparation for their final presentations.
The foursome, of Chestertown, Maryland, USA, funded their education through scholarships, grants and student loans.
While Jake and Lexi graduated with degrees in Communication Studies, Rachel and Hannah took different paths, majoring in Psychology and Biology respectively.
Proud parents Scott, 52, and Deeann Jones, 49, looked on as their children graduated in a ceremony on June 1.
Mother Deeann, an executive director at a non-profit, said: ‘Graduation day was absolutely wonderful.
‘We got to walk with our children, sit behind them, and then walk out with them.
‘Obviously we were very proud to see them graduate, but just incredibly happy for them as well.
‘Scott started worrying about financing college for them long before they were born. We were fortunate that all kids received scholarships and grants.
‘They were conceived through IVF and it was a high risk pregnancy. I was put on bed rest at 18 weeks and they were born at 31 and a half weeks.
‘Fortunately they were very healthy, they just needed to stay in the NICU to grow.
‘They were so small when they were born and Hannah was in the NICU for a month since she was the tiniest. She was just 2lbs 10 oz.
‘To see them graduate was very special.’
Jake, who weighed 3lb 4oz at birth, said: ‘To walk behind one sister and for another to walk right behind me to accept our diplomas was really special and a very proud moment.
‘It was really cool to celebrate our achievements together.’
The quadruplets lived in adjoining dorms during university, until Jake, the only boy, moved into a house with some friends in Junior (third) year.
Rachel, who graduated with a degree in psychology, said sharing the college experience with her siblings made it less daunting.
She said: ‘I think at first it was unbelievable that we all got accepted into the same college but it was exciting.
‘I take a little while to adjust to big changes so having my siblings there made it a lot easier.
‘The best part was the feeling of having a home away from home. If I was struggling I knew that I had my siblings there to help.
‘I minored in Communications so it was great to be able to share textbooks with my brother and sister, who majored in it. That saved us a little bit of money.
‘Even though we were in the same college, we had freedom as well. We all did different majors and we made different friends. It gave us the chance to establish our independence.’
Jake added: ‘To have my sisters there made college a much easier transition.
‘It was a great way to meet new people, because we all made new friends in our classes and dorms.
‘We led different lives on campus but it was great to have that family connection the whole time too.
‘In junior year, I moved out into a house with a couple of my friends.
‘It was the first time I had ever really been away from my sisters, even though I still saw them practically every day.
‘We keep in touch on a group text. Even when we’re at home we sometimes use that.’
Parents Scott, a marketing professional, and Deeann set up savings plans for the quadruplets early on and were relieved when they obtained scholarships and qualified for grants.
The parents, who have another daughter Olivia, 16, said they were relieved when their children were accepted to Randolph-Macon College, which is three hours away from their hometown.
Deeann said: ‘I had always hoped they’d go to school together.
‘It made it quite convenient for us. From moving, to storing things over the summer, to visiting them and arranging their travels back and forth from home to school.
‘It definitely gave us greater peace of mind knowing that they were there for each other.
‘Scott used 529 investment plans for all the kids, and they each had to take out small student loans.’
Hannah is set to pursue further studies in physical therapy at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania in July.
Jake will take a position in recruitment in Falls Church, Virginia, this summer, while Lexi and Rachel are undertaking post-grad positions in their hometown.
Deeann added: ‘I think it may hit me like a brick wall in July when they all actually move out and I’m sure I’ll have a really good cry then.
‘However, I’m very excited about their futures and really happy with the places they are moving to. I have a great deal to be thankful for.
Rachel added: ‘It will be a big change for all of us but I think the time is right.
‘We’ve been together for 21 and a half years and it will be hard to be apart. It’s bittersweet but it’s also a really exciting time for all of us.’