From Caracas to Columbia, Meet the Paúl Family

Sitting down with Magdalena Paúl (CC'25), whose parents met on Columbia's campus in 1996. 

October 27, 2021

Magdalena Paúl (CC'25) is from Caracas, Venezuela, but her Columbia ties run deep: her parents met at Columbia in the 1990s! That's just one tidbit that University Photographer Eileen Barroso learned when she came across Magdalena and her parents during move-in day in August. She marked the occasion by snapping a few photos for our recurring Instagram series #ColumbiaStories.

Get to know Magdalena a little better below: 

What is your favorite place in your hometown?

It would have to be El Mirador, which overlooks the entire city and has the best views of the mountains.

Favorite place on campus?

The benches in front of Philosophy Hall have become my go-to spot for reading, snacking, and conversations with friends.

How and where did your parents meet?

My parents met on their first day of class at Columbia Law School. The two were pursuing an LLM, and Mom also graduated with a Master's in international affairs at Columbia SIPA. The details about their first encounter vary a bit. My Dad says he spotted my Mom on August 19, 1996, at the Columbia station as she made her way to their U.S. Legal Methods class. According to my Mom, they met while having lunch that day with another fellow Venezuelan.

Despite the slight differences in their stories, what remains true is that they were smitten during that lunch and even ended up extending the outing—arriving a few minutes late to their class. One year later, they got engaged and have been together ever since.

Did you celebrate Columbia traditions growing up?

The fact that my parents met in Columbia really contributed to the university playing an important role in our family’s story. Growing up, we’d travel to NYC almost every summer—visiting Columbia every time, which became a sort of family tradition. During our trips, we’d walk through campus and my parents would challenge my two sisters and me to spot the owl in Alma. Then we’d go to the bookstore, stock up on Columbia shirts, and buy some books. The visit wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Hungarian Pastry Shop for hot chocolate.

Tell us about the photo you're holding.

In that photo, I was playing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer for my school’s holiday play. From preschool to kindergarten, every class would sing a Christmas song and put on a little show. I had to wear a unitard for that one, which I didn’t particularly like. My Mom always cried at those shows.