SISTER LOVE

SISTER LOVE

SHE GREW UP BY YOUR SIDE.
SHE KNOWS ALL YOUR SECRETS.
SHE IS ALWAYS THERE FOR YOU.
SHE IS YOUR BIGGEST FAN.
SHE IS…YOUR SISTER.
IF YOU HAVE A SISTER, YOU UNDERSTAND THE SPECIAL BOND BETWEEN TWO WOMEN WHO SHARE PARENTS, DNA AND A TREASURE TROVE OF CHILDHOOD MEMORIES. IF YOU ARE NOT LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE A SISTER OF YOUR OWN, GET READY FOR A MAJOR CASE OF SISTER ENVY AS YOU READ ABOUT THE LOVING AND UNBREAKABLE CONNECTION BETWEEN THESE AMAZING WOMEN!


SERENA & SUHAD RASOUL

OCCUPATIONS:
Suhad manages her own residential real estate agency, Mosaic Realty, serving Northern Virginia. She also serves as head of the DC chapter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, a non-political, non-profit organization providing medical relief to children of war and occupation in the Middle East.

Serena is a Program Specialist focusing on Middle Eastern relations at the US Institute of Peace in addition to a myriad of other professional pursuits including being a published author and acting on TV (she appeared on the first season of House of Cards.) Serena is also mom to a 16-monthold baby girl.

BIRTH ORDER:
Suhad is four years older than Serena.

WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP LIKE WITH YOUR SISTER?
Suhad: We were born in Southwest Virginia to Palestinian refugee parents who worked very hard to give us a good life. My relationship with my sister is very authentic, honest, loving and sometimes raw.

Serena: My sister and I are close but we are opposites. I care about structure, aesthetic, presentation and perception. Suhad cares about action, movement and momentum.

Our differences result in us challenging each other to become the best versions of ourselves.

WHAT ROLE DOES YOUR SISTER PLAY IN YOUR LIFE?
Suhad: From a young age, we had to fight against the grain for the things we believed in. We had to challenge the normal expectations of deep-rooted customs pertaining to the role of women. Based on this we have a unique understanding of the internal struggle we both have faced…this goes beyond just being sisters. We recognize, understand and empathize with each other in a way that no other person can.

Serena: We are in touch every day via social media or by phone. Sometimes our interactions are great and full of sarcastic laughs and sometimes we are arguing about who is wearing who’s clothes for the day!

WHAT DO YOU ADMIRE MOST ABOUT YOUR SISTER?
Serena: I admire my sister’s strength and quick decision-making. I have always been more methodical and I take time to think through my decisions. Suhad’s ability to act and react quickly has contributed her tremendous success as a business owner.

Suhad: I am so proud of everything my sister has accomplished. From achieving a Master’s Degree at George Washington University to her being a nurturing and giving mother….I love Suhad dearly and I will be forever grateful to call her my sister.

WHAT IS THE ONE WORD THAT BEST DESCRIBES YOUR SISTER?
Serena (about Suhad): Resilient.
Suhad (about Serena): Dynamic.


JENNIFER (JOHN) ODUTOLA & CHINWE JOHN

WHO THEY ARE:
Jennifer is the owner and Medical Director of the Loudoun Rheumatology Center in Lansdowne.  She is also board certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology. Jennifer is mother to three children. Chinwe is a Washingtonian “Top Doctor” specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and she travels around the country to Acute Rehabilitation Units to treat patients with severe injuries. In addition to her medical career, Chinwe is the author of the teen fantasy novel, The Boy in the Painting, which is the first in a series called The Time Shield Series, available on Amazon.

BIRTH ORDER:
Jennifer is three years older than Chinwe.

WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP LIKE WITH YOUR SISTER?
Chinwe: Because we had lived on four continents by the time we were teens, we were very close as children. We were two little travelers navigating new territories and schools together. We remain close today.

Jennifer: Our relationship is close, loving and sometimes contentious. Chinwe is like my conscience…she lectures me on things like drinking too much coffee!

WHAT ROLE DOES YOUR SISTER PLAY IN YOUR LIFE?
Jennifer: We are in touch every day. Our upbringing and the experiences we’ve shared help us remain close. In my sister, I have a friend and confidante. She is someone who isn’t afraid to tell me when I make a mistake. She is someone I love and who loves me… no matter what.

Chinwe: We talk every day to check on each other’s wellbeing and for me to hear if my young nephews or niece have done anything funny. There is an honesty and an affection that comes from the fact that we were friends long before the outside world and dictates of society came into our lives.

WHAT DO YOU ADMIRE MOST ABOUT YOUR SISTER?
Chinwe: I admire Jennifer’s intelligence, her loving heart and her strength to capably run a busy medical practice and still be available for her husband and children. I also admire her ability to cook very delicious meals. My sister is an excellent dancer! She also has perfect diction and a classy style.

Jennifer: I admire my sister’s honesty…her morality…and her love of children. She is a wonderful aunty to my kids. Whenever I get frustrated with one of my children, I send them to my sister’s house! Chinwe is strict but she has a child-like approach to things and she has tremendous energy so my kids adore her.

WHAT IS THE ONE WORD THAT BEST DESCRIBES YOUR SISTER?
Jennifer (about Chinwe): Brave.
Chinwe (about Jennifer): Loving.

JULIE & COLETTE CUNNINGHAM


WHO THEY ARE:
Julie is a former soccer coach at Princeton University and Carnegie Mellon and a she is a former soccer champion having played at Division 1 schools William and Mary and North Carolina State. Today Julie coaches at FC Virginia, a club for elite players, and she recently started a business called AssistToU which helps match female high school soccer players with great colleges. Julie is also mom to three children.

Colette also played soccer at William and Mary and North Carolina State before going pro where she played for the USA and Italy national teams. Today Colette serves as a sergeant for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department and she is a mom to three children.

BIRTH ORDER:
Julie is five years older than Colette.

WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP LIKE WITH YOUR SISTER?
Julie: My sister is open, honest and supportive. My sister has my heart and I have hers!

Colette: The relationship with my sister is quite different than other relationships in my life. I am not guarded with my sister. I have no filter with Julie. I can trust that my sister will be there for me at the drop of a hat no matter what she has going on. My sister is the truest soul I’ve ever met.

WHAT ROLE DOES YOUR SISTER PLAY IN YOUR LIFE?
Julie: The relationship with my sister is irreplaceable and vital to my overall well-being. I am not sure how I would spend a day without my sister in it. We interact almost every day by text and we talk a few times a week. Typical interactions can be anything from texting a picture of a sunrise at her Bluemont log cabin to a simple hello message. I love getting my sister’s texts in the morning.

Colette: I cannot recall ever finishing an interaction with my sister where I feel unhappy or sad. It is always uplifting to talk to her. Our conversations typically end with ‘I love you’ and then ‘I love you more!’

WHAT DO YOU ADMIRE MOST ABOUT YOUR SISTER?
Julie: Colette is mentally tough and so street smart. She charts her own path. As a younger woman, my sister was part of the US Women’s National Soccer team. She played alongside Mia Hamm and some of the other stars people know. As a professional, she has won many awards for her job as a police officer and she has the respect and admiration from everyone with whom she works.

Colette: I admire my sister’s loyalty and honesty in addition to her strength. There is never anything too big for Julie to handle. I would say the thing I admire most, though, is how she has raised three children on her own while working full time. I don’t think it is well understood in a men’s profession like college soccer coaching how much time it takes to be a full-time coach and a full-time mother.

WHAT IS THE ONE WORD THAT BEST DESCRIBES YOUR SISTER?
Julie (about Colette): Badass!
Colette (about Julie): Inspiring.

PHOTOS BY AYSE CHRISTO
Serena Rasoul Hair & Make up: Meredith Ehler
Suhad Rasoul Hair: Sonia Kasbarian/Lindsey Curio Make up: Meredith Ehler
Jennifer Odutola & Chinwe John Hair: Sonia Kasbarian/Lindsey Curio Make up: Meredith Ehler
Julie & Colette Cunningham Hair & Make up: Meredith Ehler

Written by
CHRIS CROLL serves as Executive Director for Loudoun County Parents of Gifted Students (locopogs.org). In her spare time, she writes about inspiring people and worthwhile causes. Chris lives in Leesburg with her husband and two children.