When Deborah, Rachel and Sarah Herman graduate in May, it will be a historic moment not just for the Hermans but also for the university.
Deborah, Rachel and Sarah, all seniors, will be the first triplets to walk across the stage and accept their diplomas at the same time.
These 22-year-olds are fraternal triplets separated only by two minutes. All three say they are often confused for one another. But at first glance, there are some apparent differences. Deborah is two inches taller than her sisters. Rachel has hazel eyes and her two sisters’ are brown. Sarah has naturally curly hair, Rachel and Deborah’s is straight.
It’s obvious that they share an indescribable bond. They finish one another’s sentences, have similar mannerisms and laugh at inside jokes.
Rachel, a public relations major, will accept her diploma with her sister Deborah, a communication major. Sarah will walk with them even though she is not accepting a diploma from the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism; each of the sisters was granted special permission to walk in the other triplets’ ceremonies.
After the first ceremony, the group will rush over to the Galen Center, where Rachel and Deborah will walk with Sarah as she accepts her business administration degree from the Marshall School of Business.
“Its important to share moments like that with people you care about,” Deborah said. “We shared every achievement together.”
During their time at USC, the sisters said they always had someone to rely on. Each of the Herman sisters was just a phone call or a walk across campus away from the others.
“It’s nice to know that someone will always have your back,” Rachel said.
Because they were at the same school, Rachel said they shared many college experiences with one another.
“We were going through this all together,” Rachel said. “We went to football games together, studied abroad together and share a lot of the same friends.”
But as much as graduation will be a celebration of the Herman sisters’ shared accomplishments, each one has taken her own road to get there.
Their decisions to attend USC were not made together; each triplet chose to attend USC for a different reason and at a different time. They lived apart their freshman year and eventually ended up in unique majors.
All three sisters were active in campus groups and community service at USC. Among other activities, Sarah was part of the Shanghai Marshall Global Leadership Program, Rachel was athletic chair for Helenes and Deborah conducted research with professors in Annenberg.
“Part of my identity comes from being an individual but also being with my sisters,” Sarah said.
Come graduation, the Herman sisters will continue their family’s Trojan lineage. Their father earned his master’s degree here and their mother, Jeanne Herman, works at USC.
They credit their parents for fostering an environment where they could explore their own interests and passions.
“Our parents never made us dress alike or act alike or do the same things, but they told us to be our own self,” Rachel said.
Jeanne said commencement will be an important day for her family.
“This is a milestone for our family,” she said. “It’s three rites of passages.”
All three sisters are in the progressive degree program in Annenberg and will earn their master’s degrees in the spring of 2011. After that, Sarah said she hopes to go into sports management, Deborah wants to pursue a career in writing and Rachel wants to work in the entertainment industry.
“It’s cool being the first triplets to graduate, but for us it’s an everyday thing,” Deborah said.