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'I Found My Soulmate at NYU'

NYU alumni couples share their stories for Valentine's Day.
photo: chalk hearts on a chalkboard

In advance of Valentine's Day this year, the NYU News editors put out a call for stories from couples who met on campus—and were soon overwhelmed by the response. We heard from a freshman smitten with someone he connected with at this year's Presidential Welcome, an NYU employee whose parents met in a "Physics for Poets" course in 1968, and everything in between. Below are some memories from just a few of the many couples who eagerly reached out to us. If there's a theme that unites these stories, it's that you never know who you might meet here: The student next to you in economics class, a couple doors down in your residence hall, or in a nearby study carrel at Bobst might just turn out to be your soulmate. 

red ribbon making the shape of a heart

Timothy Sprague (Law '16) and Jade Watkins (Law '15)

Together since 2015, married in January 2018

Together since 2015, married in January 2018

How NYU brought us together:

We met in a course called "Critical Narratives of Civil Rights," taught by Peggy Cooper Davis, Aderson Francois, and Bob Moses.

Campus location(s) where love was in the air:

Vanderbilt Hall, room 218, where we had our first "date" (we ordered ice cream); the Lexus Nexus room in the basement of the library where we used to study; the 9th Floor Furman Hall auditorium where we got engaged.

Nostalgic neighborhood date spot(s):

Walks through Washington Square Park and the Village, Saigon Shack, 3rd Rail

red ribbon making the shape of a heart

Annie Nelson (CAS '13) and Michael Weisner (CAS '13)

Together since 2009; engaged to be married June 30, 2018

Together since 2009; engaged to be married June 30, 2018

How NYU brought us together:

We met in October 2009 of our freshman year in Goddard Hall. We started dating right after Thanksgiving and have been together ever since.

Campus location(s) where love was in the air:

Both Goddard and Washington Square Park share a special place in our hearts. We got to fall in love under the arch, basically! It's such a beautiful spot that's not only an incredible part of NYU but also New York City itself.

Nostalgic neighborhood date spot(s):

You can't beat a walk on the High Line, a visit to the Whitney, and a night exploring some of the amazing speakeasies in the Village! Some of our favorites include Bathtub Gin, Employees Only, and Chumley's.

red ribbon making the shape of a heart

Sapna Kakwani ( Nursing '11) and Shyam Yekanath (Stern '11)

Together since 2008; married since 2017

Together since 2008; married since 2017

How NYU brought us together:

Sapna: Shyam and I met in January 2008 during our freshman year at NYU. I lived in Weinstein, and he was a “displaced freshman” living in Carlysle. I asked my friend to take me out with her one Thursday night. We met up with another friend and Shyam in Union Square, and got into a cab to Rebel, a club. On the way there, Shyam started serenading me with a romantic Hindi song. He asked for my phone (we had flip phones back then!) to put his number in my phonebook. When we got to the club, I asked him for my phone back—turns out he left it in the front seat of the cab!

I was absolutely livid with him. One night he waited for me in the lobby of Weinstein and walked me to my chemistry lab to apologize for losing my phone. Finally, my roommate convinced me to give the poor guy a chance!

Campus location(s) where love was in the air:

Bobst Library—our relationship blossomed over our many late nights spent studying—and Kimmel, where Shyam proposed in April 2016 on the 9th floor looking out over the park! Our family and friends were standing by the fountain holding a banner saying “Sapna, Will you marry me?” and a jazz band was waiting for us in the park.

Nostalgic neighborhood date spot(s):

The Blue Note, Minetta Tavern, Comedy Cellar, Knickerbocker Grill, Upstein

red ribbon making the shape of a heart

Kevin Garvey (Nursing '08) and Lila Yuen Garvey (Nursing '09)

Together since 2008, married since 2014

Together since 2008, married since 2014

How NYU brought us together:

We met at St. Vincent's Hospital during psychiatric nursing clinical when we were both students in the College of Nursing.

Campus location(s) where love was in the air:

Washington Square Park, where we used to walk our dog, Brooklyn.

Nostalgic neighborhood date spot(s):

Silver Spurs on Broadway (RIP!)

red ribbon making the shape of a heart

Suhaly Bautista-Carolina (CAS '08) and Naiema Carolina (CAS '08)

Together since 2012, married since 2014

Together since 2012, married since 2014

How NYU brought us together:

Suhaly: We met during freshman orientation in 2004. We were 17! We first saw each other on the 8th floor of the Silver building. Naiema even remembers what I was wearing (an all green outfit down to the belt).

Campus location(s) where sparks flew:

Bobst Library. We used to meet there to study and never got any work done all 4 years (too busy staring at each other and laughing until our stomachs hurt)!

Nostalgic neighborhood date spot(s):

We used to love to go to UNO’s for their brownie bowl, but now it’s The Smith.

red ribbon making the shape of a heart

Robyn Mar (Law '08) and Ría Tabacco Mar (Law '08)

Together since 2012, married since 2014

Together since 2008, married since 2012

How NYU brought us together:

We met at a "queer women of color" NYU Law mixer organized by our friend and fellow '08 alumna Alexis Hoag during the first few weeks of our 1L year. Robyn thought Ria was smart, serious, and well-dressed. Ria thought Robyn was opinionated, social, and had a short attention span.

Campus location(s) where love was in the air:

We both loved NYU, but our approaches to law school were polar opposites. Robyn lived in D'Agostino Hall, Ria lived in Brooklyn. Robyn was the social chair of OUTLaw, Ria was on Law Review.

Nostalgic neighborhood date spot(s):

We didn't start dating until the very end of law school. But the first time we hung out together, one-on-one, was at a White Castle in the Bronx while investigating a case for Randy Hertz's juvenile defender clinic. It was snowing and approximately 10:30 a.m. Robyn immediately ordered a burger and asked Ria if she wanted one too. Ria, a lifelong vegetarian, was horrified, but managed to decline politely.

red ribbon making the shape of a heart

Renu Behl (Stern '03) and Jon Blankinship (Stern '02)

Together since 2005, married since 2008

Together since 2005, married since 2008

How NYU brought us together:

Renu: Jon and I were introduced by a mutual friend from CAS in summer 2001 (at Eight Mile Creek on Mulberry Street in Soho) but the romantic sparks started flying when I was a senior in 2002, and Jon was coming back to campus to recruit for Bank of America. I remember checking my emails between classes at the computer stations in Tisch UC, desperately hoping for an email back from him on my Stern account. I also remember running into Jon in the courtyard in front of Stern when he was on campus for a presentation.

He took me out to dinner to "advise me on the investment bank interview process" at L'Orange Bleu near my dorm at Broome Street. It wasn't until 2005, when I was at JPMorgan and he was at Bank of America, that we reconnected over the Bloomberg trading platform (how Stern of us), and began to message each other, to go out on dates together, and to fall deeply in love.

Campus location(s) where love was in the air:

Our first kiss was outside the Broome Street residence hall, and there was another memorable kiss in the courtyard outside of Stern's Tisch Hall.

Nostalgic neighborhood date spot(s):

Otto Enoteca Pizzeria

red ribbon making the shape of a heart

James L. Barry (Tisch '02) and Ben-David Fenwick (Steinhardt '01)

Together since 1999, married since 2014

Together since 1999, married since 2014

How NYU brought us together:

Ben-David: It was the fall of 1999, our second year at NYU and Move-In Day at Water Street. I ran into a friend I went to high school with in Tennessee in the lobby, and she introduced me to her friends. James was one of them.

James: Yes, my friend from freshman year at Brittany Hall introduced us on Move-In Day at Water Street. I remember we all went to dinner at Panchito's near campus. Much later, that same friend who had introduced us signed the marriage certificate at our wedding!

Ben-David: Our anniversary is November 7th, 1999, the day we were officially boyfriends. We had been dating a few months before then. James ran the guest list at the Tunnel nightclub on Saturday nights. A week before, on Halloween, I asked to skip the line because my boyfriend worked the door. It was the first time I had called him, or anyone, that (and it worked!).

James: I remember a drag queen who worked the line came running up saying that a guy dressed as the Mad Hatter was claiming to be my boyfriend and wanted to skip. I was caught a little off guard but knew it must be Ben-David. Of course I let him through! We talked a week later and made it official.

NYU location(s) where love was in the air:

Ben-David: I proposed to James under the arch in Washington Square Park. NYU is where we met, so I wanted something symbolic of our first time together.

Nostalgic neighborhood date spot(s):

James: We used to go to Dojo for a cheap meal after class, and we still eat there when we're in the area. It's gone upscale a bit!

red ribbon making the shape of a heart

Ken Abbott (GSAS '91, Stern '94, current adjunct professor at Courant) and Katherine Reynolds Abbott (GSAS '94) 

heart shaped cutout of a couple on the beach

Together since 1990, married since 1992

How NYU brought us together:

Ken: We met in statistics class as part of the GSAS economics masters program. I helped her with her homework: sampling distribution or the sample mean.

Campus location(s) where love was in the air:

We got married at the old Catholic Chapel on Washington Square South.

Nostalgic neighborhood date spot(s):

When we lived in Manhattan we would always look forward to walking through Greenwich Village to our apartment in TriBeCa.

red ribbon making the shape of a heart

Lois Rosen (Law '79) and Phil Rosen (Law '79) 

heart shaped cutout of a couple on the beach

Married since 1979

How NYU brought us together:

Although we didn't know each other before law school, we grew up in neighboring towns and went to rival high schools. Lois's mother taught at Phil's high school, and he was her student for a short time. Lois's father was in the floor covering business, and Phil's parents had purchased carpeting from him for their home in North Woodmere.

We met for the first time during NYU Law's Family Day, an event in which students’ parents or other relatives visited to get a glimpse into law school life. We each met our parents in the lobby of the Law School at the same moment. Our parents first greeted us, and then realized that they knew one another. Phil then realized that he knew Lois's mother. We then met one another for the first time.

We were both involved in other relationships when we met, so it was really more like meeting a fellow student with whom we had some connections in common. We were in different sections (which meant no common classes) so we did not see one another that often during our first year in law school. We were pretty busy making friends in our sections and focusing on our classes during most of that academic year.

After our first year was over, we both spent some time on weekends during the summer at Atlantic Beach on Long Island (which is near where we grew up). One Sunday, we met by coincidence at the beach, and Phil (who had a car) offered to drive Lois back to Manhattan. She accepted, and we stopped for a drink at a bar/restaurant called Churchill's on the Upper East Side. Lois had been dealing with a few family issues over that weekend, and they sat together for hours while she talked them through with him. Phil was (and still is) a wonderful listener. It wasn't a real "date" (although Phil did pick up the check), but it really was the beginning of our relationship. We went on our first “official” date shortly thereafter.  

Campus location(s) where love was in the air:

Vanderbilt Hall, where we spent almost all our time!

Nostalgic neighborhood date spot(s):

The only date night spots that are still around are Knickerbocker, Japonica, and the La Lanterna Caffe across the street from the Law School. For really special occasions, we went to One if By Land on Barrow Street, but usually only with our parents because we couldn't afford it! There were many other restaurants that are long gone: Buffalo Roadhouse (on the corner of Barrow and Seventh Ave), Hopper's (on Sixth Avenue), Christie's Skylight Gardens (11th or 12th Street between 5th and 6th), and Marylou's, a fish restaurant (9th Street between Fifth and Sixth).