Anastasia Gromova was about to move to Japan to teach English for a year. She and her friend Michelle Pazos traveled to Florida to spend two weeks at the Pazos’ Surfside apartment before Gromova left.
Both women died after Champlain Towers South collapsed June 24. Michelle’s father, Miguel Pazos, died with them.
It had taken the 24-year-old Gromova three years to learn Japanese. In a few months, she would have been flying to Japan to start a new chapter of her life, said Gromova’s sister, Anna.
“She was a very determined person. Many people dream of doing things, but she actually did them,” said Anna Gromova, who survives Anastasia along with her mother Larysa Gromova, her father Sergiy Gromov.
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At age 24, Anastasia Gromova spoke five languages and was set to learn a sixth
Anastasia Gromova showed early signs she would learn multiple languages and travel the world. When she was only 5 years old, one of her favorite books was an English dictionary, her mom said.
“She did not understand much of it, but she was reading the English dictionary,” Larysa Gromova said of her younger daughter.
The Ukrainian-born polyglot also knew Ukrainian, Russian and French, making five languages in total. She also had plans to learn Italian, her mother said.
In 2008, the family immigrated from Kyiv, Ukraine, to Toronto to seek a better life in Canada, her mom said. Anastasia Gromova was 12.
Years later, she won second place in a high school writing competition. Larysa Gromova said her daughter did not tell the family she was competing until she won.
“She did everything by her own,” her mother said. “We were surprised and so proud, and she was so happy.”
Best friends met at college in Canada, were spending week in Surfside
In college at McGill University in Montreal, she met Michelle Pazos during a school trip, visiting several Asian countries such as Taiwan and Malaysia, her sister said. It was the start of a beautiful friendship that was supposed to last forever.
Anastasia Gromova graduated in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in business with a focus in marketing. After graduating, she kept in touch with her friend as they both continued to live and work in Montreal.
“They supported each other,” her sister said.
After three years of working as a copywriter for a marketing firm, Anastasia Gromova was accepted to teach English in Japan.
“She realized that they will not be seeing each other for a long time,” her sister said.
Miguel Pazos, Michelle’s father, invited Anastasia to visit them in Surfside so they could spend a week together before leaving for Japan. The friends had traveled to Florida together from Canada.
Larysa Gromova said her daughter loved Miami and staying at the Champlain towers, sending her pictures of what she was seeing every day.
“I opened the window at night, and I can hear the ocean,” Anastasia Gromova told her mom.
During her last day on Earth, she went with her friend to a spa, to have dinner and see the ocean. She also read a book from the balcony of a Champlain condo unit owned by the Pazos family, her mom said.
At 1:47 p.m., June 23, just hours before the collapse, Anastasia Gromova sent one last text message to her mom.
“Love you,” she wrote.
Anastasia Gromova’s body was identified on July 21, her mother said, 29 days after the condo collapsed. She was one of the last to be identified.
Although this tragedy will mark their lives forever, the family said it will continue to remember Anastasia as the smart, kind and adventurous person she was.
“She did not need much to be happy. She was full of life,” her sister said.
Omar Rodriguez Oritz is a reporter at the Naples Daily News. You can contact him at [email protected]