Move-In Day times 3!

Rice’s first set of triplets moves to campus

Moving a child off to college can be challenging enough for parents with one kid. But what happens when you have three children leaving the nest simultaneously?

That’s exactly the scenario in which Lynn and Alberto Tohme of Houston found themselves Aug. 16 on Move-In Day, the first day of Rice University’s O-Week. Their triplet children – Serena, Alberto and Anthony – are all incoming freshmen at Rice.

From left, Anthony, Serena, Alberto and Lynn Tohme. (Photo by Tommy LaVergne)

When it came time to apply for college, the triplets knew that Rice was their first choice. When they received word of their acceptance last December, they waited until they were together to share the good news with their parents.

“We were just elated,” Lynn said. “It’s unbelievable that all of them were accepted at one school — and Rice University at that. I’m extremely proud of them and of what they’ve accomplished.”

Although some parents might be overwhelmed at the idea of three children moving to college at the same time, Lynn took things in stride.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “[The O-Week advisers] are very, very efficient and very nice. We feel very welcome.”

Chris Landry, assistant director of first-year programs, said that it was very important for his office to make the moving process as streamlined as possible for the Tohme family.

“On Move-In Day, we have about 1,000 extra people in addition to all the new students,” he said. “It’s a big production, but we really wanted to make sure that the each one of the triplets had the chance to connect with their college and also spend time with their family.”

Landry said that the process ran very smoothly.

“Each college has welcomed them with open arms,” he said. “We’re excited to see what’s in store for them during the rest of the week and the next four years.”

Although many sets of twins have made Rice their home over the years, University Historian Melissa Kean said she believes the Tohme siblings are first set of triplets attending Rice together.

“Over the course of Rice’s history, it hasn’t been unusual to have sets of twins on campus, and some of them have been quite notable,” Kean said. “As far as we know, though, this is the first time that we’ve had triplets attending Rice together.”

The Tohme family arrived on campus at 7:15 a.m. with a caravan of vehicles. While they enjoy doing things together, the triplets made the decision to be part of different residential colleges.

“It’s a way to be together (on campus) while having individual experiences,” they said. “Really, it’s the best of both worlds.”

First stop was Wiess College, where Serena will spend her next four years.

Serena said the move-in experience was “amazing.”

“Everyone’s so nice,” she said. “I knew there was going to be a big celebration when we arrived, but I was still surprised at how helpful everyone was, how nice the rooms looked. They put everything in my room and everything was all ready when I got upstairs. It just made me feel so welcome.”

Next stop was Baker College, the new home for Alberto. Once again, the family received the warmest of welcomes as they arrived, and in no time at all Alberto’s boxes were safely tucked inside his new room.

“I’m really excited,” Alberto said. “Everyone at the entrance was really energetic, and it really pumped me up.”

Like his sister, Alberto said he was “very pleasantly surprised” with new living quarters.

From left, the Tohme family with University Representative Y. Ping Sun and Rice President David Leebron. (Photo by Tommy LaVergne)

While at Baker, the family had the opportunity to meet with Rice President David Leebron and his wife, University Representative Y. Ping Sun.

“We’re excited to have what we believe are the first set of triplets at Rice,” Leebron said. “We’re always excited when any student makes the decision to come here. And when three extraordinary young people from the same family decide to be together and be at Rice, it’s a great day for (the university).”

Leebron called the organization of the students and the overall move-in day “spectacular.”

“The way the students organize it and their generosity and the assistance they give really makes it possible for these students to have a really seamless experience moving to Rice,” he said.

The final stop for the family was Brown College, where Anthony will be a resident.

“I really like it,” he said. “Everyone at Brown is so nice — I feel like people here were extra nice.”

Lynn said that she enjoyed seeing the uniqueness of each college.

“I’m happy that each college is different,” she said. “They’re going to have completely different experiences, and I cannot wait to see all the good things that will come out of them being here.”

The overall move-in process was “more than I ever expected,” Lynn said.

“It was actually very easy to move in three kids, so I’m very happy about that,” she said.

The triplets acknowledged that they have always been very close and participated in a number activities together growing up — including “waking up punctually at 6 a.m. to play with Legos” and simultaneously “waking up everyone else in the house.”

“We were very noisy,” Serena laughed. “There wasn’t a lot of peace.”

When asked about moving to college, the triplets agreed that they were very happy to share the experience with one another.

“Moving to college can be pretty scary, even when you’re moving within your own city,” Anthony said. “It’s really nice to have people you’ve spent your whole life with coming with you and staying with you.”

“It’s a new chapter in our little triplet book,” Serena said. “It’ll be nice to see where (Rice) takes us.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Alberto said. “We’ll take one step at a time and see where it goes.”

The triplets acknowledged that their absence will be a little tough on their parents but plan to visit home regularly and squeeze in plenty of Facetime conversations.

Lynn admitted that the family home will feel empty without them.

“(My husband and I) were two and became five overnight,” Lynn said. “And now, they are going to college, we will become two again. It will be very difficult to adjust at home, but it’s going to be a great experience for them, really wonderful.”

Lynn said that she and her husband are “extremely proud” of all their children have achieved so far. “They’ve made it to Rice because of their own accomplishments.”

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.