At the conclusion of every school year, the Lomaka quadruplets pack four sets of possessions into a huge van. It was this van that carried them to their first day of move-in at Virginia Tech. This May, it will accompany them home after they graduate from four separate colleges within the university and move on to life in four separate corners of the United States.
On every trip to and from their hometown of Richmond, Virginia, Steve and Tina Lomaka drove and road shotgun, engaging their Hokies with conversation, laughter, support, love, and encouragement.
The Lomaka family, consisting of Steve and Tina, their oldest daughter Lauren, the quadruplets Greg, Steve, Chris, and Kate, and their youngest son Matthew, have been named the 2016 Virginia Tech Family of the Year.
“It is so gratifying to see your children grow and mature and be happy,” said Tina. “We are forever grateful for Virginia Tech for allowing this opportunity for our children to spread their wings. They are so ready to begin the next phase of their lives.”
The Virginia Tech Family of the Year award is presented annually by the Division of Student Affairs to acknowledge the people who best support the university’s students. The award honors a parent, family member, or family of a current Virginia Tech student (or, in this case, students) who has made a significant impact on the student’s college success. Presentation of the award coincides with Virginia Tech's annual Spring Family Weekend.
Separated by four minutes, Greg, majoring in statistics in the College of Science is the oldest; followed by Steve, majoring in business information technology in the Pamplin College of Business; Chris, majoring in building construction and real estate in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies; and Kate, majoring in human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Greg, Steve, Chris, and Kate have been bathed in limelight since their birth in 1993, but achieved national attention when they became the first set of quadruplets to enroll at Virginia Tech in the fall of 2012. Since then, each have gone above and beyond in their service of the university — with three serving as residential advisors and the fourth serving as the undergraduate representative to the university athletics committee, leading the Student Government Association’s Hokie Effect program, and working as a student intern with the strength and conditioning program for Virginia Tech athletes.
The quadruplets’ successes are reflections of their family’s sacrifice along the way. As parents to six, Steve and Tina Lomaka aren’t strangers to hectic schedules and compromise, and they both work hard to support their family. Tina works night shifts, caring for their youngest son, Matthew, during the day.
“Matthew happens to have Down’s syndrome, but that certainly doesn’t hold him back,” said Tina.
“My mom and dad have done everything under the sun for us to make sure we have as normal and fulfilling lives as we can, regardless of how many of us there are,” said Kate. “For my mom, her hard work changing her nursing schedule from doing day shift to night shift was an overwhelmingly supportive way for her to show us that she'd do anything to help us follow our dreams.
“My dad is just as much a rock to our successes as our mom. He’s become just as big of a Hokie fan as the four of us—he gets so excited coming to home football games and hearing about all of our stories because he knows how special this time is for us to share in these experiences together.”
As communications coordinator in the Office of the Provost at Virginia Tech, Alison Matthiessen has covered the Lomaka family for university media and connected them to local and national media for stories as well. Matthiessen nominated the Lomakas for Family of the Year.
“As I met with the quadruplets for stories over the years, during each interview, I would hear a great deal of thanks to their parents for their unwavering support to get them to where they are today and to dream big for the future,” said Matthiessen.
Beyond the strong love that surrounds the family lie undercurrents of both teamwork and humor. When faced with the challenge of paying for four separate college tuitions, the family came together—developing a game plan, and implementing separate strategies for holding each other accountable.
“Being in such a large family, the value of accountability is pushed pretty hard because you don’t want to let your siblings down,” said Steve.
Lauren, the quadruplets’ older sister, began studies at the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg the same year the quadruplets began at Virginia Tech. She will graduate one week after her siblings and will head to Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to complete her residency in emergency medicine.
Matthew is an avid saxophone player, recently playing the Star Spangled Banner before his high school’s basketball game.
Upon graduation, Chris will be moving to Honolulu, Hawaii, to work as a field engineer for Hensel Phelps. Kate will attend Virginia Commonwealth University’s physical therapy program in Richmond, Virginia. Greg will have a year-long internship in Cardiff, Wales, before working as an international pricing analyst with Elephant Insurance. Steve will work as a business technology analyst at Deloitte Consulting in Arlington, Virginia.
Matthiessen recalled her first meeting with the Lomakas this past fall.
“I told my husband after that day that I hope my family will have that same amount of love and support in it—especially considering the challenges that the Lomakas faced along the way,” said Matthiessen. “In the years I’ve been thankful to get to know the family, they never seemed phased by what many would see as overwhelming or challenging. In fact, they’ve always said how they feel grateful and blessed.”
Even as the quadruplets get ready to go separate ways, the family will remain one of Virginia Tech’s biggest advocates.
“I have mixed emotions right now,” said Tina. “My children have been safe and happy and have had a wonderful learning experience. These four years have gone by way too fast. I would be more than happy to see them stay at Virginia Tech for another four years! But, I know they are ready and, with that, so will I be ready, too.”
Written by Madeline Sault of Arlington, Virginia, a junior triple majoring in business information technology, professional and technical writing, and English creative writing in the Pamplin College of Business and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and Holly Paulette.
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