7 Columbia Love Stories, Romantic and Platonic, That Will Make You Smile
As Valentine’s Day approaches, we’re looking back at one of our favorite traditions: the Alumni Association’s #ColumbiaLoveStories. Every year for the past eight years, the group has asked Columbians to share their love stories—platonic and romantic—for their Facebook albums, and every year the stories set our hearts soaring.
Here are seven of our favorites:
Sonali M. (CC’15) and David B. (CC’15, LAW’21)
Sonali writes: “I met David on day one (hour one) of college, as he was my next-door neighbor in John Jay our freshman year. We were best friends for all that year until he asked me to go to dinner with him at a small cafe next to Washington Square Park during the fall of our sophomore year. We began dating and became inseparable as we experienced the remainder of college together. We took a class on Indian Politics, spent hours on FaceTime when he studied abroad in Hong Kong our junior year, and hunted for the best bowl of pasta that Morningside Heights had to offer.
“Three years later, after surviving periods of long-distance and two cross-country moves, David proposed to me in Washington Square Park. We got married in January of 2020 in India in front of many of our lifelong Columbia friends. Our wedding hashtag was #GodBlessColumbiaHousing because if it weren't for that wonderful Columbia Housing administrator who decided to put our rooms next to each other eight years ago, we would not be husband and wife!”
Theodore K. (CC’64, GSAS’66) and Nancy S. (GSAS’73)
Theodore writes: "For many years in the late 1960s and 1970s, I ran the examinations at the Law School. This entailed hiring proctors and people to mark the short answer parts of some of the tests. That meant I had to hire graduate students to perform these tasks. One time, I was short on proctors and called up a candidate. I identified myself as the ‘Examination Supervisor’ and nearly put the person who would later become my wife near cardiac arrest. She had just returned home from taking a particularly grueling exam. What must she have thought?
Anyway, she regained composure and reported the next day to proctor. After the exams were over, I called her and asked her out and the rest is history. A sidebar, shortly thereafter, I became Assistant Dean, Director of Admissions at the Law School."
Diana W. (CC’10, SIPA'19), Casey H.D. (CC’10), Akua N. (CC’11), and Alice S. (CC’10)
Diana writes: "We all met as suitemates in Hartley 3C, which was part of the Living-Learning Center (LLC). A few of us actually met before our freshman year officially started because we participated in the outdoor orientation program, where we hiked, biked, and made our way down the Hudson Valley through the College Walk gates.
“After our fateful meeting, what followed were four amazing years, full of wonderful community events (mandatory pancake floor meetings!), shenanigans (there may be a time capsule somewhere on campus), and memorable Columbia moments (spotting Hawkmadinejad with a fresh kill on our snowy roof). We also collected many more LLC friends over the years. (Shout out to Severin, Jeremy, and Christine!) Our friendship has deepened over the years, as we celebrated marriages, supported each other in our careers, and welcomed babies! Who knew that the LLC also stands for 'lifelong companions'?"
Olivia T. (CC’12) and Christopher T. (CC’12, SPS’13, VPS’19)
Olivia writes: "The first conversation I ever had with Chris happened in an elevator, but it was a far cry from a meet-cute. After sizing me up and deciding that the coat I was wearing wasn't sufficient to stand up to a New York winter, he badgered me about it from the 8th floor of Shapiro to the lobby. Not the smoothest of starts. He got a chance to redeem himself the next time we spoke, during the time it took us to schlep a broken-wheeled blue bin to my storage unit on 107th Street and back.
“To my surprise, I discovered that when not fussing about outerwear, he was a pleasure to talk to. So we kept the conversations going. Chat by chat, without either of us realizing it, we were building the foundation of a relationship. Our conversations created mutual respect that quickly grew into admiration and friendship, and eventually into affection and love. A lot has changed since we were undergrads—we'll be celebrating seven years of marriage this June and welcoming a future Lion into our pride this April—but after all this time, he still worries that I’m not warm enough and we’re still each other’s favorite person to talk to."
Dyanna S. (SIPA-CBS’15) and Miki D. (PH’14)
Dyanna writes: "We met on Valentine's Day in 2013 at a 'LGBT Intergraduate School Speed Dating Mixer.' She will tell you that she was forced to go by friends and that it was the lamest thing she had ever heard of. I was pumped when I heard about the event and remember telling the organizer to 'tell all the girls!' (that I would be there).
“We met early in the event near the 'bar' area. I extended my hand to greet her and (very geekily) introduced myself as 'from the business school.' She [Miki], of course, rolled her eyes and said she studied public health. I asked if her name was Japanese, and she asked me what I knew about Japan. It was a fun conversation, so I followed her around to the various stations (it was not the kind of speed dating you have seen on television). She was a little shy too, but I had won over her friend who invited me to an after-party. The next two years were filled with study dates in Lehman, bites at Mel's, and weekends writing theses.
“We got married the day after my SIPA graduation in May of 2015 at City Hall and celebrated with our closest family and friends (many from Columbia!). We'll always have fond memories of our time on campus."
Mitch E. (CC’70) and Sande H.
Mitch writes: "It was the summer of 1969. I was cramming in twelve credits of education in six weeks at Teachers College to qualify for a license from the New York City Board of Ed. The Student Forum, a Columbia College student organization I worked with that brought speakers to campus, was running a series of programs called 'The Black and Latin Experience in New York City.' My friend Mike, who was coordinating the series, needed someone to man the Student Forum office, type, run off copies on the mimeograph, help out at the programs, and pass out fliers on College Walk. He called a friend from high school, Sande, and told her if she could get together the plane fare, he would get her a job at Columbia.
After my Psychology of Education class, I walked over to the Law School to attend the first program in the series. It was Herbert Aptheker speaking about Nat Turner. I remember some of what Dr. Aptheker had to say, but I remember better the young woman with the long dark hair and mini skirt, who handed me a program and sat in the back taking notes. I continued to attend the lectures and movies in the series and talking to the smart brown-eyed beauty. After one program she and I walked out onto the Law School bridge and sat on the Henry Moore sculpture. As we watched the traffic on Amsterdam Avenue, we enjoyed our first kiss.
Now, forty-four years later, the Thalia is gone, our joints ache if we sit on line on the grass for tickets to Shakespeare in Central Park, and Broadway seats cost a lot more than the $5 we paid to see James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander in 'The Great White Hope.' But there are now two successful grownups who call us Mom and Dad and two beautiful children who call us Grandma and Grandpa—all from a romance that began on 116th Street.”
Jo B. (LAW’80) and James B. (LAW’77)
Jo writes: “My great Columbia love story is one of sibling love. My brother James B., Class of 1977, was attending Columbia Law School, having just graduated from Princeton University with honors. I was attending Drew University and dreaming of an international life. I was the teaching assistant for Professor Robert Smith's constitutional law class at Drew and fell in love with the law. My brother suggested that I apply to Columbia where my heroes Oscar Schacter, Louis Heinken, and others were teaching.
“I was accepted and my first year was wonderful because unlike other long-suffering first-year students, I had a brother who was third-year and a big man around campus. He gave me his books, his notes, and, most important, his love, advice, and attention. Through the ups and downs of my first year Columbia Law School adventure (and there were a few ‘downs’), he was always there for me.”