Five Siblings, Two U-Md. Campuses, Much Relief

By Aruna Jain
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 22, 2005

Pam Pisner had gotten so busy with the party planning -- guests, invitations, food -- it still hadn't really hit her.

Then, on Thursday evening at a choral concert, she tapped husband Dan's shoulder and leaned over.

"Our children are graduating from college," she whispered.

He nodded.

She burst into tears.

Nearly 22 years after their birth, the Pisner quintuplets -- Devin, Ian, Shira, Michael and Elliot -- marked yet another milestone in their lives. They will become college graduates: three from the University of Maryland at College Park and two from an Eastern Shore campus in the university system.

Last night, more than 6,100 students graduated in an evening ceremony at the Comcast Center in College Park. NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, spoke to the class that began as freshmen the same fall as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Students also heard from one of their own, Fernando Balderrama, who graduated from the College Park campus with a triple major in economics, international business and French.

Ian, Shira and Michael decided to skip the ceremony so they could be on the Eastern Shore watching Devin, the oldest by 2 1/2 minutes, and Elliot, the youngest, walk the stage at Salisbury University. Today, the other three quints will pick up their diplomas at the smaller ceremonies of their individual colleges.

Devin studied photography. Elliot's degree is in information systems and business. Ian and Michael will receive degrees in graphic design. And Shira, the only daughter, is taking home a communications degree.

Even they can't explain how they did it.

"I'm still shocked that college is ending and that my parents found some way to get us all through," Michael said. "They tried to explain it to me, but it still doesn't add up."

On June 21, 1983, at George Washington University Hospital, the Pisner five became the first quintuplets born in the District. A team of doctors delivered them; each weighed between 2.6 and 3.4 pounds.

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