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Triplets share honors as co-valedictorians and salutatorian after early struggles as premature babies

Graduations are always a time for celebration, but since their children’s birth, it has always been a triple celebration for Paul and Becky Barker from Mahoning County, Ohio.

This year, the celebration is monumental as 18-year-old triplets Sadie, Caydin, and Gage Barker not only graduated from high school, but did so with the highest honors!

These premature babies have certainly come a long way!

High school graduations are already huge milestones, but the way the triplets are ending their time at Sebring McKinley High School is nothing short of epic.

Caydin and Sadie were named high school co-valedictorians while Gage received the honor of the school’s salutatorian.

Their mother Becky Pusateri-Barker stated, “These three are amazing in everything they have done in life so far.” Becky is particularly proud after the children’s early struggles in life as premature babies.

On September 30, 2004, the premature triplets were born at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown, Ohio,  at only 34 weeks of gestation.

The three babies were originally part of a set of quadruplets, but sadly, one sibling passed away in the womb between 16 and 18 weeks. Becky shared that first-born Gage kicked off the early labor. The premature babies had to stay in the hospital for nearly three months following their births.

“Those 83 days I spent in the hospital were some of the most challenging days I have ever had, but I wouldn’t change a thing, because it gave me three of the most amazing children I could [have] ever hoped for,” Becky said. “They have been our biggest blessing and our greatest reward.”

On their high school graduation, Becky said, “It was a day full of emotion and the ultimate pride. Sitting there listening to them give speeches and articulate their gratitude to the amazing teachers at that school was a proud moment.”

“The honor stripes they wore on their gown, the medal around their neck … just gave more proof of all the hard work they had put in during their school career,” she added.

The triplets celebrated the momentous occasion with hugs, tears, and laughter, and surrounded by family and friends.

The triplets and premature babies have since grown up into remarkable achievers! Sadie and Caydin both finished with 4.0 GPAs, while Gage finished with a 3.784 GPA.

Sadie plans to attend the University of Cincinnati to get a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, and then move on to law school to become a patent attorney.

Caydin also plans to attend the University of Cincinnati to major in electrical engineering and get his master’s degree in business administration.

Gage, on the other hand, has plans to join an apprenticeship program to become an electrical lineman or a different trade, but is also considering attending college or a university.

On their excellent accomplishment, Sadie said, “We’ve done everything together our whole lives and this is nothing different, but it still feels great.”

These triplets turned outstanding students credited their family and support system for their academic performance.

Sadie added, “We have really great parents and really great teachers that I don’t know where we would be without some of them. They really pushed us to be the people we are today.”

She stressed the importance of building good relationships, always working hard, and being kind to others.

Caydin also shared his thoughts, and stated, “No matter what we do in life, we should do it to the best of our abilities and strive for excellence because, you know, if you strive for excellence then you can go really far.”

The co-valedictorians also gained scholarships for their efforts. Sadie has won $15,000 in scholarships while Caydin received $10,000 in scholarships. They were chosen as two of the 17 recipients of the Edward J. Debartolo Scholarship, which received 350 applications.

These three grew up sharing everything, including top honors in their high school. After a rocky start as premature babies, these triplets are off now to college and a bright future!

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