Born Together, Graduate Together
Twins of Quadruplets Graduate with Degrees in Psychology
By Daylina Miller
TAMPA, Fla. – For most siblings, having a brother or sister means having someone who steals your clothes, eavesdrops on your phone conversations and bickers with you in the car during family vacations. But most siblings are not quadruplets, with three other siblings of the same age.
For Sanela and Irena Dedovic, growing up as twins in a set of quadruplets meant a lot of things, too – dressing the same, finishing each other’s sentences and sharing their looks and classes with each other and two other sisters.
But it also meant crossing the stage together at their college graduation.
“It’s amazing to know that you always have someone by your side and don’t have to grow up alone,” Sanela said.
The Dedovic’s mother thought she was having twins the entire time she was carrying the four girls. Little did she know that when she went into labor, she would be delivering quadruplets.
“My dad missed the birth because he was working and he came in and everyone was like ‘Congratulations on having four daughters’ and he was like, ‘No, I don’t. I only have two’,” Sanela said.
The Dedovics grew up attending many of their primary school classes together, garnering attention from classmates and questions about their birth.
“The most common question, and the dumbest, we get asked is, ‘Do you guys have the same father?’” Irena said.
Some students in high school thought “The Quads” were a gang, Sanela said, laughing. But it was just the collective nickname for four girls who yearned to be known as four individuals.
“In high school, we were always together,” Irena said. “We were the quads, the look-a-likes. People knew us and didn’t really see us as individuals but as part of a group.”
But college gave them the independence they needed. Classmates no longer knew they were quadruplets. College was about being an individual.
But Sanela and Irena maintained a particular closeness, despite pursuing different personal interests. The twins were both pre-med biology majors at St. Pete College when a psychology course they took as an elective changed their game plan.
Instead of becoming medical doctors with their own family clinic, Sanela and Irena decided they would be psychologists and open a mental health clinic together. After they transferred to USF, they jumped eagerly into their psychology classes.
“Psychology made more sense, and I could apply it to everyday life,” Irena said. “I enjoyed the classes more and it just clicked in my head that this is something I want to do in life.”
Now that they have both graduated with bachelor of arts degrees in psychology, Sanela and Irena plan on applying to graduate school together next spring. Having a study partner under the same roof helped them get through difficult classes, and they hope to do the same thing for their master’s degrees.
Irena is currently in Turkey, working as a nanny for twin girls. Though she misses sunny Florida beaches, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to live in a foreign country and travel to surrounding countries with the family. Her nanny salary will help her cover the costs of grad school.
Sanela, on the other hand, is employed in Tampa as a research associate for the International Research Foundation for RSD/CRPS, under Dr. Anthony Kirkpatrick. Her experience there is giving her valuable insight into psychological research methods.
While it was nice that the twins have some time apart to experience college as individuals – Sanela here in Tampa and Irene in Turkey taking her courses online – the girls miss each other tremendously.
“It’s a strange feeling being apart from someone you have never been apart from,” Sanela said. “It’s hard sometimes and it really does feel like there is something missing. I know we have to all grow up, but I hope we don’t grow apart.”
Sanela and Irena are also very close to their sisters, Jasna and Arnela. As if there wasn’t a full enough house already, the quadruplets have a 14-year-old sister, Indira.
“People often ask and wonder what someone would be like with all four of our personalities combined,” Sanela said. That person is Indira, Irena said.
“Indira kids around and says we all share a brain and that to come up with an idea…” Sanela said.
“…we should all put our heads together,” Irena finished.
Barring normal sibling quarrels, the quadruplets grew up rather peacefully together. As they got older, they discovered their own interests and friends, while maintaining their close bond to one another. Sanela said that Indira maintains a different, but close, relationship with each of her older sisters.
“I want people to know that we are individuals, that they don’t have to feel guilty if they are close to one of us, but not the others,” Sanela said. “I think sometimes people felt like they had to be friends with all of us or none at all.”
The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.