It’s a Sister Thing: 30 Under 30 Siblings Share UCF Memories
By Camille Dolan ’98
Born just 18 months apart, Natacha (“Tach”) and Sabrina (“Sabby”) Jérôme are as close as siblings can be without being twins.
This year, they just got a little closer, if that’s possible: Natacha, always the trailblazer, was selected for the 2021 30 Under 30 Class; Sabrina is in this year’s class.
As the daughters of Haitian immigrants – their parents came to the US in the 1980s, fleeing a political upheaval – the Jérôme sisters learned early on that much was expected of them.
Growing up in Orlando meant that UCF was always looming large in the background as an ideal place for them to pursue higher education.
As the older daughter, Natacha went to UCF first.
“I think my parents encouraged us to go to UCF,” Sabrina says. “My sister was already at UCF, but I didn’t know that I would be going there until late in my senior year of high school.”
“Yes, we had high standards that were set by our parents at a young age,” Natacha says, “But they also allowed us to be kids and to do kid things, and to be involved in different sports and clubs.”
Natacha and Sabrina’s parents also helped feed their hunger for knowledge and helped them gain a variety of experiences that made them want to learn more.
“We always had educational materials at home when we were young,” Sabrina says. “And I think my parents were very intentional in making sure that we were not only driven academically, but also just driven to learn in general.”
As the older sibling, Natacha had an unofficial role in helping pave the way for Sabrina.
“She kind of just told me what to look out for in middle school and high school because she had gone through it,” Sabrina says.
That camaraderie continued at UCF; Natacha was able to give her some tips about navigating the UCF campus.
In a twist of sorts, Sabrina had a UCF experience that her sister did not. Because Natacha was named to the 2021 30 Under 30 class, the pandemic prevented her and the rest of the class from celebrating in person. But she accompanied her sister to this year’s event. The sisters recently reflected on their time at UCF.
Now the senior zone business manager for PepsiCo, Natacha credits her success in business to the education and opportunities she received at UCF.
“I appreciated receiving the award because I felt like I was seen,” Natacha says. “As a student who didn’t have the best GPA in my first year, I want students like me to know that if they work hard and focus and utilize the resources accessible to them, they can do well. Being the first in my family, I’m always just trying to do well, like just keeping my head down and focusing on an end goal.”
For Sabrina, now a rising third-year law student at Nova Southeastern University, she leaned into various multicultural organizations at UCF, and understood the importance of being nominated.
“As the daughters of low-income working-class immigrants, I think it’s really important that whoever sees this article to know that hard work is important. And if people are thinking of nominating someone, please nominate not only who you think is worthy of this award, but also who best exemplifies it. It is so important to have people who look like you honored at the university level. The result is a cumulative effect that can inspire more people to do better and to effect more change than is thought possible.”Natacha and Sabrina talk multiple times a day and are each other’s best everything.
“I love the person that she is becoming,” Natacha says. “She’s going to be the best lawyer ever. She has this big, infectious personality that just draws you into her, and if you’re in her crowd, you’re in. Her. Crowd. Even if you’re not in her crowd, she will be there for you.”
“Tach may be a little quieter and more reserved than I am,” Sabrina says, “But she misses nothing. She’s extremely hard working and very dependable. My dad uses the word ‘perspicacious’ to describe her.”