Full (Rising Phoenix) House


In the mythical realm, a phoenix is a singular entity, but the Chelberg family has redefined this concept, producing not one but four Rising Phoenixes—quadruplets Andon, Connor, Grace, and Will. Such a remarkable phenomenon occurs in about one in every 700,000 pregnancies, further accentuating the rarity of this family. However, their mother, Kelli Chelberg, is no stranger to the dynamics of multiple births—she herself has a twin sister, and she cheerfully adds, “Plus, my sister has twin daughters.”

A six-feet-tall family of eight, the Chelbergs consist of the quadruplets, their parents Kelli and Robert, plus book-end brothers Ethan, 21, and Drew, 15. Robert is an optometrist, and Kelli is an assistant professor at the College of Menominee Nation. Kelli adds, “I definitely am a strong advocate for education.”

As the quadruplets grow into college age, they are engaging with the GEAR UP Rising Phoenix program offered by UW-Green Bay. This innovative resource allows high school students an opportunity to earn an Associate of Arts and Sciences degree free of charge as part of GEAR UP while still in high school, providing the Chelbergs a two-year head start on college. “We’re still looking at a couple of years with five students in college at the same time,” Kelli estimates.

Rising Phoenix targets underserved communities. The Chelberg’s eligibility originates from their tribal affiliations as determined by Wisconsin Educational Opportunity Programs (WEOP), part of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Robert, an Ojibwe man from Red Cliff, serves Indian Health Services on the Menominee reservation. Meanwhile, Kelli dedicates her career to educating the future generation at the College of Menominee Nation, a tribal Land Grant college in Keshena, Wisconsin.

About a year ago, Kelli introduced the Rising Phoenix program to the quadruplets. For those curious about reaching a consensus among four individuals, Kelli outlines the distinct personalities of each. “It’s kind of amazing because they are all really pretty independent, and I have always been independent,” she comments, unveiling the distinct traits of each quadruplet. Andon, the eldest, is known for his punctuality and deliberation. Connor embodies a free-spirited persona, Grace maintains a laid-back attitude, and Will embraces competition.

The quadruplets, having attended Shawano Community High School, participated in the Rising Phoenix Program online last year. Kelli reflects on their academic journey, “They were all really pretty good students, and that was always kind of the expectation.” She believes sibling influence plays a role in academic success, saying, “I do think it’s helpful when there is a little bit of peer pressure from your siblings in terms of doing well or succeeding in school.”


We’re putting the “distinct personalities” theory to the test, separately asking each of the quadruplets the same questions by email. Answers have been edited for length.

Share an enjoyable or interesting story or observation about your experience in the Rising Phoenix program.

Andon: “I observed an interesting connection and friendliness among my peers despite not meeting them in person, particularly in my first-year seminar class.”
Connor: “I appreciated meeting people going through similar experiences and bonding with my siblings.“
Grace: “In high school, it was sometimes challenging to give 100% to work when its direct impact on my future isn’t always clear. In this program, however, the work directly affects my grades and leads to a degree.”
Will: “The unique part of my experience was the study group we created. This setup allowed us to support each other and provided a social avenue during study breaks.“

What have you enjoyed most about the GEAR UP Rising Phoenix program?

Andon: “I enjoyed the sense of freedom the program provided in choosing subjects and scheduling learning times to suit my needs.”
Connor: “I found the health classes and the conversations with my student success coach, Sam Post, enjoyable.”
Grace: “The Rising Phoenix program has allowed me to enjoy learning, and I have enjoyed picking out courses that genuinely interested me.”
Will: “I relished the program’s flexibility and the close bond it helped develop among my siblings.”

Tell us about a person or event during the program that surprised you.

Andon: “I was surprised by the level of support we received as students, especially from our student success coach, Sam Post.”
Connor: “My writing teacher’s friendly approach was a pleasant surprise. Her teaching style greatly enhanced my learning experience.”
Grace: “What pleasantly surprised me during the program was the kind and helpful staff working through it.”
Will: “The surprising support from Sam Post, my student success coach, and the First Year Seminar class helped with our smooth transition into the program.”

Did you face any challenges that you had to overcome?

Andon: “The biggest challenge was figuring out where to start with the workload and managing my time effectively.”
Connor: “My main challenge was procrastination. I struggled with completing assignments on time, especially those with a week’s deadline.”
Grace: “The added pressure of being a college student with professors that held higher expectations of the quality of work handed in.”
Will: “My key challenge was managing my time. Balancing my social life, academics, and sports was a significant hurdle.”

What advice would you give to someone considering joining the Rising Phoenix program?

Andon: “Go for it if you’re eligible and believe you can be accountable. Make the most of the program’s resources and support systems.”
Connor: “Seek help from your instructors, complete your assignments promptly, and don’t hesitate to ask questions.”
Grace: “Having siblings throughout the journey has been a blessing. We’ve grown, learned, and made mistakes together, turning this into an incredible opportunity.”
Will: “Take one step at a time and tackle the program head-on. Mastering time management and study skills are crucial.”

Any additional comments?

Andon: “The Rising Phoenix program offers an amazing opportunity for free college credits and valuable life skills while providing robust support.”
Connor: “Enjoy the experience and live in the moment!”
Grace: “Nope. I’m good!”
Will: “Staying on top of your work and dedicating ample time to it is essential, but the sweet rewards and fulfilling feeling of finishing each semester one at a time make it all worthwhile.”

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