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It's a Family Thing: Ferrara Quads Give First Semester at MCCC Four Thumbs-Up

12/12/17


From left, Natalie, Riley, Alex and Louis Ferrara are finishing up their first semester.

Conversation is easy among the siblings.

Heading home.

West Windsor, N.J. – Two of the women on Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) 2017-18 softball team are freshmen sisters Natalie and Riley Ferrara, of Lebanon, N.J. There are also the Ferrara brothers, Alex and Louis, who are finishing up their first semester at Mercer as well.

Add them all up and you’ve got the first pair of quadruplets at Mercer in recent history.

Thus far, the Ferrara quadruplets are giving the college solid marks all around.

The connection to a community college that is approximately 35 miles and up to an hour’s commute away from home started with older sister Bailey, who is three years the quads’ senior. Bailey played softball for the Vikings in 2015 and 2016. An outfielder, she was named to the All-Region and All-GSAC teams during her sophomore year.

“We came to Mercer as fans to watch our sister play, and we liked what we saw,” Natalie recalled. “We liked the softball field and all the athletic facilities. We liked Coach [Ryan] Zegarski, who runs a competitive softball program.”

The sisters say that choosing Mercer was an easy decision. They appreciated the relatively small size of Mercer’s full-time student body, which isn’t that much larger than the student population at Delaware Valley High School, from which all four graduated in May. Once the girls had made their decision, Natalie recalls that the boys decided to “tag along.”

Given Bailey’s positive experience and Mercer’s affordability, the quads’ dad endorsed the plan. “With the cost of tuition, it would not have been feasible otherwise for all of us to attend college at the same time,” said Louis, who is studying Business Administration.

As fraternal quads, they look like siblings, but are not identical. One might think they are just a friendly group of kids hanging out together. But spend a little time with them and you will notice the glances and gestures, and the habit of finishing each other’s sentences that let you know this is a family thing.

All four say their first semester has been a good one. Louis said, “My professors are challenging me. It’s really the first time I am taking school seriously.”

Riley, who is also majoring in Business Administration (with a concentration in sports management), agrees that MCCC is proving more challenging than high school. “You have to make an effort in the classroom.  In English class, our writing assignments force us to have an opinion and work out conflicting perspectives.”

Natalie, who is studying Health Sciences along with Alex, hopes to complete her Physical Therapist Assistant degree. While she took an anatomy class in high school, she says that her Anatomy and Physiology course at Mercer is much more detailed.

“Last week we dissected a sheep’s eye,” she said. “The lab facilities are great, with modern equipment and hands-on diagrams.”

The four say they try to complete assignments and navigate the campus independently. “But if two of us are taking the same course and we have notes that could be helpful, we share them,” Louis said. “But mainly, we work at our own pace and focus on our own responsibilities.”

They will, however, share their opinions freely if asked – in a way that only close siblings can. “We will roast each other’s essays. We can be blunt. We don’t have the same filters that you would have with someone you don’t know well,” Louis said.

Meanwhile on the softball field, the girls say that fall ball was exactly what they were looking for. Riley is a catcher and outfielder and Natalie plays right field. “We played eight games over four weekends. Then we will start winter workouts. Coach Zegarski takes it very seriously,” Riley said.

Natalie noted that mandatory study halls for athletes are helpful. “It forces you to get your work done. They help you achieve balance and find the time to do what you need to do to be successful.”

Louis, who played lacrosse in high school, is considering joining Mercer’s new men’s lacrosse program, which will have its first practice season this spring. “Our team played against Hopewell Valley High School, where Coach [Robert] Siris came from,” he said.

The boys also plan to be at their sisters’ games this spring. “We will be there to cheer them on. And, they are our ride,” Alex said with a smile.

All of the quads are thinking about the future. At present, three are already sure they will transfer after earning their associate degrees. But for now they have found a friendly place at Mercer. “We have eased into college life better than we thought we would,” Natalie said. “And we’ve become even closer and a little more separate from our big sister, Bailey.”

“We definitely made the right choice,” Riley added.

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