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College is an expensive proposition for any family, but the parents of quadruplets have special reason to shudder.
And so it was for Pauline Stevens, the mother of fraternal quadruplets, all boys. She and her husband, Jose Uribe, raised the four, color-coding their clothes and juggling feeding and diaper duty for four. But it was the prospect of putting them through college, especially as they began to excel academically in AP courses and high school sports, that unnerved them, even though both work full-time.
“I was very, very worried,” Stevens says.
Three of the four Uribe Stevens brothers are now finishing their freshman year at BU, thanks to Richard D. Cohen Scholarships (the fourth brother attends New York University). The Cohen scholarships are awarded to students who have shown outstanding academic promise and face exceptional financial need or qualify for a federal Pell Grant. Founded by BU trustee Cohen (CGS’67, Questrom’69) in 2009, the scholarships pay for students’ financial aid as well as any tuition increases during their undergraduate years.
Cohen, president and CEO of real estate management firm Capital Properties Services LLC in New York, credits BU with opening his mind, describing himself as an uninspired student until he came to campus.
“The BU I know gives students opportunities they couldn’t get elsewhere,” he has said. The academic environment allows “young people not only to experiment, but to find a real path for themselves. That’s what happened with me.”
There are nearly 1,000 Cohen scholars studying at BU this year, according to BU’s Financial Assistance office, and Andres Uribe Stevens (CGS’20), Jose Pablo Uribe Stevens (Questrom’22), and Santiago Uribe Stevens (Questrom’22) are among them.
Quadruplet births are increasing as a result of fertility treatments, but they’re still a rarity. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were only about 193 sets born in the United States in 2017. At age 31, Pauline Stevens says that the news that she was carrying four babies came as a shock. They were born 11 weeks before their due date in a hospital near the family’s home outside of Mexico City. Santiago came first, followed by Andres, Jose Pablo, and Pedro, each weighing just two pounds. All of them lived in incubators for the first two months of their lives.
The family moved to New Braunfels, Tex., when the boys were three years old so Jose Uribe could expand his import-export fabric business. In the town of 12,000 people just outside of San Antonio, the Uribe Stevens boys became virtual celebrities as toddlers, known to everyone and easily identifiable in their bright primary color clothes given to them by family and friends. Pauline says she didn’t employ a nanny when they moved to the United States, relying instead on help from their extended family.
“Four is very, very hard,” she says. “And we would do it over again.”
But they managed. Today, the 20-year-old brothers no longer wear matching anything, and they aren’t thrilled when they occasionally show up somewhere in similar outfits.
As they got older, the brothers shared bedrooms in pairs, rotating partners yearly. They also shared classes at school, played soccer on the same team, and worked at the same restaurant in high school. They often say things at the same time, which Santiago attributes to the fact that they have a similar sense of humor, not to any kind of psychic connection.
Another thing they agree on: leaving Texas for BU and choosing to live in separate dorms was a big transition. “It was a difficult year for sure,” says Jose Pablo, who is often the brothers’ unofficial spokesman. “Growing up with three brothers is like having a sleepover that never ends.”
At BU, they see each other rarely on weekdays because they’re busy with their own activities. But weekends are different—they’ll meet up, go to parties, or hang out together. And no, they’ve never had a conflict over a romantic interest.
In fact, despite their different personalities and interests, they enjoy one another’s company. The BU contingent got together for a dinner in March 2019 in New York, where Pedro is studying theater at NYU, to celebrate turning 20 together.
Jose Pablo credits their closeness to their mother, who has always urged them to stay connected, while finding themselves. “She really encouraged us as individuals,” he says. “She wanted each of us to be our own person.”
Santiago wants to go into business, much like his father. He’s always been a top honors student, his brothers say, and at BU, he’s studying finance, with the idea of becoming a strategy consultant at a national firm.
He and Andres have already made plans to live together sophomore year. “Growing up we shared everything,” Santiago says. “There was no individual.”
Jose Pablo, or J.P., as he is known, plays soccer for BU. In his sparsely decorated room is a poster of Muhammad Ali, one of his heroes. J.P., like Santiago, is studying business, a major that drew him to BU. While college life has been an adjustment, J.P. says he’s coming to enjoy his newfound independence.
“I have a sense of freedom,” he says. “I choose my routine, I choose when to see my brothers. At home I didn’t have that.”
So too does Andres, who lives in Rich Hall. In his free time, he designs his own T-shirts and hosts Game of Thrones viewing parties. One of the shirts features an image of Audrey Hepburn from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It reads, “Paris is always a good idea.” A favorite movie? The 1986 cult classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Andres says he got the idea of making his own designs from his mother, who works as a food photographer and who always pursues her creative passions.
“I’m definitely more on the hipster side,” he says. “I like old things.”
As for the boys’ parents, Pauline says she and her husband email their children often, a way to keep the family together even at a distance. They visited Boston recently to see their sons and watch J.P.’s final soccer game of the year. She and Jose are successfully navigating life as empty nesters, she says, because being the parents of quads has taught them the importance of rolling with big life changes.
“We are so thankful,” she says. “Our sons are happy and in a good place.”
Megan Woolhouse can be reached at email@example.com.