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As if it isn’t enough that identical twin sisters, age 26, graduated summa cum laude from the leading university of Madrid, then magna cum laude from the Sorbonne in Paris, after which they picked up Fulbright scholarships and LL.M.s from Columbia Law School, and wound up together as second-year associates at Shearman & Sterling. Or that they are both fluent in French, Spanish, Italian and English. The French-born Paraguacuto-Maheo sisters have landed identical apartments in Manhattan’s tony East 60s, making for a convenient stroll each morning to their Lexington Avenue offices. “Well, we know what we want,” said Tatziana, moments older than her sister Diana. “We believe in perseverance.” That and being side by side. “We have our private moments, and our private lives,” said Diana, who works in the project development and finance division of Shearman. Of big sister Tatziana, she added, “She’s always there when I need her, but she’s not imposing. We’re complementary, I think. That’s how we stick together.” Among the events in Tatziana’s private life is the impending birth of a son or daughter, the result of her marriage to Joshua D. Dambacher, a third-year associate in Shearman’s bankruptcy and restructuring group. Unexpected as this development was for parents so early in their careers, Tatziana said: “Everybody used to say maybe the fifth year is the right time for a baby, but I decided there is no such thing as the ‘right’ time. So the baby made sense.” Remarkably, she said, absolutely nothing changed for her in regards to her job in Shearman’s mergers and acquisitions department, an intense practice area informally known as “the Marine Corps” in water cooler conversation at the firm. “People were surprised, but everybody said to me, ‘Just do what you have to do,’ ” said Tatziana. Asked if this signaled some cultural benchmark, she quickly added, “ Yeah, I want to believe it.” Marriage and pregnancy seem to be the only thing that distinguishes one sister from the other these days. Diana explained the anomaly: “We didn’t coordinate.” But they do organize their clothes shopping expeditions. “I buy her things, and she buys mine,” said Diana. With a logic that perhaps only twins might grasp, she added, “Then we switch.” Both sisters attribute their pluck and perseverance to their adventuresome parents, Venezuelan-born Oscar Dario Paraguacuto, who died in 1997, and Fran�oise Maheo of Paris, who visits New York on a monthly basis, thanks to perquisites granted by her employer, Air France. Always traveling, Fran�oise met Oscar, an art student before becoming a business entrepreneur in Caracas, in Mexico City. They spent the year traveling through Mexico and Central America, organizing concerts along the way for spending money. Then Fran�oise decided it was time to go home, but sometime later, Oscar appeared at her doorstep in Paris. Hola, Fran�oise. Paraguacuto knew what he wanted. FULBRIGHT FELLOWSHIPS Tatziana and Diana had a plan that prompted the Fulbright Foundation to underwrite their initial journey to the U.S.: they would study international corporate deal-making in the heart of such business, New York City. In time, the sisters would take their New York experiences back to the European legal and governmental communities, which they insist should be every bit as involved in making deals with Latin American enterprises as their American counterparts. To that end, Tatziana has designs on becoming a member of the European Parliament. All seemed to be going well in their cause. The sisters say they decided on offers from Shearman specifically because of the firm’s substantial involvement in international affairs. But their agreement with the Fulbright organization contained a big hurdle: fellows must return to their home countries for two years. In January of last year, the sisters began their campaign for a waiver from the rule on the simple grounds that since the vast majority of cross-border deals were made in New York, it made no sense to leave so far short of gaining the experience and contacts the fellowship was meant to provide. “We had to convince the French government, the Fulbright people and the U.S. State Department that we were not betraying the purpose of our fellowship,” said Diana. “Everybody told us we wouldn’t get it [the waiver],” said Tatziana. “Everybody said it was impossible before 9/11, and now it’s even more impossible. We were the only ones who believed.” Last September, perseverance paid off, and Tatziana and Diana were granted waivers to their Fulbright fellowships, enabling them to remain in the U.S. indefinitely. Tatziana has decided on a bit of private persistence at some point in the future of motherhood. According to X-rays, her baby is singular rather than plural. “Having a twin is such an asset,” she said. “I’ll have to concentrate for the next time.”

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