The Grinnan quadruplets embarked on their academic journeys as freshmen this fall
at WVU Potomac State College, in Keyser, W.Va. Pictured during Move-In Day from
left are: Parent Mike Grinnan, Michael, Allie, Chris, Maria, and Interim Campus
President Chris Gilmer.
West Virginia University Potomac State College Interim President Chris Gilmer welcomed incoming students and their families during Move-In Day this fall. Students came through the Davis Conference Center picking up their residence hall room assignments, securing meal plans and tending to any unfinished business. President Gilmer approached Parent Mike Grinnan who was surrounded by a group of young adults, and asked him, “And which one of these students will you be leaving with us today?” Much to his surprise, Grinnan answered, “All of them.” It was in that moment that President Gilmer learned that the Grinnan Quadruplets -- Maria, Chris, Allie, and Michael – would be joining the Catamount family.
“In all my 30 years in higher education, I’ve never had a set of quadruplets on my campus,” said President Gilmer. “You can imagine my surprise and excitement when I learned they chose Potomac State College. We’re honored.”
The quadruplets are from Ashburn, Va., and were looking at schools relatively close to home and close to Elkins, W.Va., where they have family. (Ashburn is two hours and fifteen minutes from Keyser while Elkins is approximately one hour and 40 minutes from campus.) According to Michael, “We were also looking for a smaller campus because we knew we’d learn better in a more personal environment. Potomac State College is a perfect fit for us.”
When talking with the quads, there’s no doubt they are each other’s best friends and enjoy hanging out with one another. Allie and Maria are roommates and Chris and Michael are rooming together, similar to their bunking arrangements growing up at home. Allie and Michael, the two youngest of the four, are the more outspoken of the siblings.
Allie is studying biology with the goal of becoming a pediatrician. Chris is studying pre-forensic investigative science with interest in becoming a forensic scientist. Maria is a business technology major and knows she wants to be an entrepreneur managing her own business. Michael is also a business technology major with interests in supply chain and online commerce.
Thus far, the four are still learning about the various clubs on campus and spend their time outside of class studying, watching football and hanging out together and with new friends.
Maria says, “I like how you can rely on the professors who are friendly, easy to find and accessible and willing to answer questions.”
“I like the culture,” Michael chimed in. “Everyone knows everyone else, almost like it’s a family. It’s a beautiful campus surrounded by mountains. I just love how pretty it is.”
The Grinnan quadruplets are each other’s best friends. The siblings are freshmen at WVU Potomac State College. Pictured from left: Michael who is studying business technology, Chris is a pre-forensic investigative science major, Maria is also a business tech major, and Allie is studying biology.
Surprisingly though, the family learned about Potomac State College through the recommendation of their Grandmother Bobbie (Ray) Grinnan, who attended the Keyser campus for three semesters from Fall 1965 through the fall semester 1966. “I lived in Reynolds Hall my first two semesters and then commuted from home the third semester because my father was ill which is why I didn’t return for a fourth semester,” said Bobbie.
She had graduated from a very small high school in Randolph County, W.Va., and remembers it being an easy transition between high school and college. “I felt very comfortable on campus. The friends that I made were from similar rural backgrounds. The faculty were friendly and helpful. I enjoyed my time there,” Bobbie said.
And it was for all these reasons that Bobbie met up with her four grandchildren and their parents on the Potomac State campus this past summer walking around and sharing with them her experiences and stories when she was a student.
“I thought Potomac State College would be a great fit especially coming out of COVID,” Bobbie said. Her grandchildren grew up on 34 acres of wooded land and Bobbie also thought the rural setting would agree with them.
“Potomac State College gave me the inspiration to continue with my education,” said Bobbie, who went on to earn her associate degree from Fairmont State University and her Regents Bachelor of Arts degree through Glenville State University when she was in her 40s. After a career in social work, she and her husband retired to their farm near Elkins, W.Va.
Bobbie says at least one of the four siblings texts her every night to let her know how they are doing. Admittedly biased, Bobbie says the quadruplets are good kids who have always been their parents’, Sophia’s and Mike’s priority.
“It’s quite an adjustment,” said Mike, when asked about being first-time empty nesters. “You go from being busy all the time with a house full of noises to just quiet now.”
“Although we’ve reverted back to life before we had kids,” Sophia interjected. “We’re hanging out and doing more together and we get to watch a whole TV show uninterrupted. Now it doesn’t take us three hours to watch a one-hour show, which is not an exaggeration,” she laughs. “But I wouldn’t have traded it for the world taking three hours to watch a show if it meant watching it with the kids.”
The quadruplets leave behind a menagerie of pets for their parents which include 20 chickens, one turkey, one guinea pig, two African grey parrots, one Sun conure parakeet, two dogs, and a cat named Mr. Pickles -- not to mention the wildlife of foxes, raccoons, possums, bears, squirrels, deer, and a fisher that often travel their land.
Mike attended Fairmont State University one year before joining the marines. Later in life, he went back and earned a bachelor’s degree from Mountain State University. Sophia is graduated from the University of Maryland. They said Potomac State College is close enough to home but still far enough away to allow their children their independence. As parents, it was important to them to choose a college in which they could be there in a couple hours.
“West Virginia is like a second home to them. Their Nan and Pap live there. We visit there all the time,” Sophia said. “We visited Potomac State College and they just fell in love with the campus. Everyone there was so nice and helpful. It was a natural fit.”
Sophia and Mike also recognized that their kids require routines as well as quiet when studying which is why the quads chose to be each other’s roommates. “They respect each other and know each other’s idiosyncrasies,” said Sophia.
Both Mike and Sophia are retired police officers from the Fairfax County Police Department with 26 and 25 years, respectively. Mike currently serves as an investigator for the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General and Sophia is a 911 dispatcher and call taker for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.
When asked what advice they gave their children as they went off to college, Mike said, “Put forth your best effort. School comes first. It’s not cheap sending four kids to college. Mom and Dad are still working to send you to school, so you need to put forth the effort to keep yourselves there.”
That said, the Grinnan quads received scholarships and financial aid to help offset the cost of tuition. “In the end, the cost was only a bit more than in-state tuition,” Mike said. “It helps quite a bit.”
According to Sophia, as retired police officers, they are proponents of safety and awareness. “One thing we never did was paint a false picture of life. We’ve always shared reality with them -- what we learned on the streets – both good and bad. They are compassionate and empathetic kids, but they are all also fiercely aware of their surroundings and the buddy system,” she said.
“We tell them to have fun, meet new friends, have your experiences but do it responsibly and use good judgment, said Sophia. “And if one of them starts steering in the wrong direction, because we all make mistakes, they have each other’s backs. And most importantly, appreciate what you have – not materialistically – but family and each other.”