Meet the Lawrence sisters. Six of them are studying nursing together at Adelphi. NewsdayTV's Shari Einhorn reports. Credit: Anthony Florio, Howard Simmons, Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca; Photo credit: The Lawrence Family

The Lawrence sisters know they have a “built-in support system” when they take college classes together to become nurses — all six of them.

“We all like nursing,” says Dominique, the eldest, “and through this journey, thank God, we see why we like nursing. We like the science. We like helping people.”

Danielle, Dominique, Alecsandria, Lauren, Nathalia and Gabriella Lawrence in a nursing class together at Adelphi University in Garden City on March 6. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

The band of sisters — Dominique, Lauren, Danielle, Gabriella, Alecsandria and Nathalia — are in their first semester of nursing school at Adelphi University in Garden City. Last summer, each received a bachelor’s degree in public health from SUNY Old Westbury, and in May, they expect to graduate with a master’s in public health from SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, where they are still enrolled in classes. The sisters are earning 14 credits at Adelphi and 15 at SUNY this semester.  

Each received scholarships that lowered the cost from about $47,000 annually to $10,000 under Adelphi’s Transfer Tuition Guarantee program, which requires at least a 3.5 GPA. To cover the cost of the remaining tuition, they rely on loans and apply for other scholarships.

In attaining good grades, there’s strength not just in their numbers, the sisters say. For example, sisters good in math will mentor the others through mathematical tough spots.

“We’ll play off each other’s strengths,” notes Nathalia, the youngest of the six. “Sometimes we spread out in the classroom to see what other students are doing and then we reconvene, and we’re like ‘OK, we can learn this from that person’ and ‘we can collaborate with that person.’ ”

Six siblings together in college may be a record at Adelphi, says Kristen Capezza, the university’s vice president of enrollment management and communications.

“It’s been really exciting for us to see them feeding off of each other’s energy and motivation,” Capezza says. “Their energy is contagious.”

Left: Baby photo of Lauren Lawrence. Top: Family photo of Dominique, Danielle and...

Left: Baby photo of Lauren Lawrence. Top: Family photo of Dominique, Danielle and Lauren Lawrence. Bottom: Family photo of Family photo of Danielle, Dominique, Alecsandria, Lauren, Nathalia and Gabriella Lawrence. Credit: Lawrence family

The sisters range in age from 18 to 26, so it may not be immediately obvious to fellow students that these classmates are related, especially when some of the sisters like to sit in the front more than others.

“Sometimes it takes our classmates a minute or two to understand that we are full-blooded sisters and not nuns or sorority sisters,” Danielle says, “but when they do realize, we get plenty of questions.”

To make it to this point studying as nurses together, the sisters have overcome homelessness and the worries of housing insecurity. In 2012, their father, David Lawrence, a minor league baseball player at the time, lost the family home to a relative and has been in court ever since to get it back.

The sisters had their lives on pause as they were home-schooled and studied to get GEDs while living in their Escalade SUV or temporarily in relatives’ homes. 

For a time, they squatted in foreclosures, the memories still vivid for them. The floors had mold. The yards were full of trash.

Even where they live now in Brooklyn, the sisters say, they remain only at the pleasure of their host, also a relative. Their mother is also currently staying at the residence. 

It was their father who found Adelphi’s nursing college and benefits after poring over programs at SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Centers, geared toward New York’s underserved. They also have a seventh sister, Sarah, 17, who's enrolled in a GED program at York College in Jamaica.

“I said, ‘You’ve got to get a degree that’s worth something,’ ” Lawrence, now a freelance baseball coach,  recalls telling his daughters. “I didn’t want my life bubbling over to them and that’s what happened.”

Despite a long day in school, the band of sisters brims with enthusiasm over future possibilities. Their goal is to pursue further education and open a medical practice together.

“When I was younger, I used to have this little imaginary hospital I made that I called The Nursing Lawrence and I would take care of all my sisters wounds and everything,” Nathalia says.

But they’re not stopping at nursing. Lauren dreams about a Lawrence softball team. Alecsandria wants to learn everything about hair and nails. Daniella thinks about being a doctor.

“I hope we can do a clothing line together,” Gabriella says. “I’m the family stylist, so I would head that.”

When they talk about plans, the words that often follow are “God willing.” The siblings pray and read the Bible daily, saying they’re focused not so much on the future but living the current journey that God has put them on.

“It’s a very good experience,” Nathalia says. “I enjoy it, thank God, at school with my sisters.”

With Shari Einhorn