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Quadruplets Graduating Together This Week Talk About Life After College

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Worried about rising college tuition? Imagine having to pay tuition for four children—all at once.

That's what Salvation Army pastors Carole and Daniel Abella had to figure out 18 years after their quadruplets were born on June 7, 1990. Not only was the family able to pull together so that they could all go to college, all four of them—Daniel, David, Sarah and Naomi—ended up going to Azusa Pacific University together. Now the siblings known as the The Abellas, The Four or The Quads are graduating this weekend and heading their separate ways for the first time.

David plans to head off to Spain, Sarah is figuring out where to go for grad school, Daniel is going down to Cathedral City to work for the Salvation army and Naomi has applied for a position in Hawaii. Of course, traveling has always been a part of their lives because of their parents' line of work. The family has lived in Arizona, Colorado, Northern California, and now they're living in Bakersfield.

David was the first to want to go to APU, because he wanted to join the air force ROTC program. Then, Sarah got interested in the university because of the its athletic training program. David ended up dropping ROTC, but not before he and his siblings had all set their sights on the school.

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LAist recently had a chance to talk to the Abella quadruplets about their experience going to college together and what life after graduation holds for them.

What was it like growing up together?

David: Overall, fun, because I mean you always had someone to play with, and we’re all pretty imaginative and growing up together we had a lot of fun.

Sarah: It was nice because our parents did move so often, so you always had a close-knit group that you always knew no matter where you went.

Daniel: Our family is very close. I’d say it was a lot of learning how to deal with large finances as a family and learning to have to deal with paying for school. I remember growing up we went to private school all our lives, so we would do things as a family [to pay for tuition]. For example, we would clean the school gym and set up the chairs for chapel. I remember since third grade you could see us on Saturday as a family cleaning the school in order to pay for our tuition, and it was even to the point that in order to mop the floor, there would be two of us mopping with one mop because we were so small that we couldn’t handle the mop by ourselves. Our family has really learned how to support each other through the rough times, and because of that I think we know how to enjoy the good times with each other as well.

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How has that transitioned to paying for college?

Sarah: It definitely was something that our parents sat us down to say that because of their occupation, they couldn’t pay for the majority of our schooling. We had to look at a lot grants, scholarships, and loans. Some years were tighter than others, so we were really blessed just to be able to have the funding that helped us get through it. Going to school as a family also helped us out. Sometimes, one sibling would shove a little more money to the other that needed it, and our parents would help us with groceries—it really was a family effort at times.

What was your experience like going to college together?

Naomi: I think by the end of high school we kind of found our niche with our group of friends and that carried over to college. When we found out we were going to college together we knew that it would be great because we would able to see each other and support one another. It’s been great because we each have different passions and that has translated to different majors for each of us. We found different friend groups through our majors, so we each have our own friends but we also all come together and quadruple our friends.

David: Although we are categorized as a group, I’d say that now that we are in college and have different majors and friend groups, I think that we have more opportunities to be a little more individual.

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Did you all collectively decide to go to the same university together? How did that decision pan out?

Daniel: Naomi and I are a little more independent and wanted to know what it was like outside of the group. I was actually going to go to Point Loma. I had gotten accepted and received scholarship offers. This will sound funny, but for some reason, as an incoming freshman, the dorms were really important to me. When we visited Point Loma, we never got a tour of the dorms, and I remember going to APU because Sarah and David were going there and we took a tour of the campus with our parents and they were pushing us to go to APU. We saw one of the dorms and it looked really nice, so I was like, okay!

Naomi: At first, I didn’t really want to go to APU, but we were offered some good scholarships and financials has been something that’s been on our minds, so getting a scholarship was a determining factor. It’s been great because I’ve found a lot of programs that I didn’t know they offered that have really shaped my experience [at APU].

What feelings do you all get when you even think about going your separate ways after spending your entire lives with each other?

Sarah: People have always told us since we were little that we would have to separate at some point, and I think we’ve always known that there will come a time when we will have to part ways. Even though we are separating, it’s not going to be the end of our relationship. We’re still going to be calling and checking in on each other.

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Daniel: In coming to college, we decided to branch out and get to know other people, which has helped a lot. Also, learning to be an individual on campus has played a huge part in preparing us to go out in the world as an individual. Also, when we come back together, we understand that we have each other, but at the same time we have our own lives to live—we have our own interests and callings. We will support each other in all that we do. Family will always be there to support you and to encourage you to go out and make a difference in the world.