Did you know that over 7,400 Columbia couples met and fell in love through Columbia?
Some were hit by Cupid's arrow on the first day of classes, while others connected years later through the Columbia alumni network.
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, we've compiled a few of our favorite Columbia love stories—written and shared by our alumni—that would give Nicholas Sparks a run for his money.
Do you have your own Columbia love story to share? E-mail us your story and photo(s) to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rob + Cristina
"Carman 12. 1985. My wife and I met our freshman year. We both lived on the 12th Floor of Carman Hall. She came from a private school in Connecticut. I came from a public school in Pennsylvania. She knew French. I knew football. We both were still dating others from back home. But not for long. For me, I knew right away that she was the girl for me—pretty, intelligent, and fun to be with. For her, I'm not so sure of her original thoughts—I was a little more rough around the edges than she was used to, but at least she thought I was cute. She came to my football games and my Fiji parties. I went with her to Bacchante concerts and Cannons. Our college romance was more on-again/off-again. But when the spring of 1989 came around and decisions had to be made about what happens next, we both knew that we wanted to be with each other. So, we each decided to go to graduate school in NYC. We never did discuss marriage, but then again, we never did discuss leaving each other. After our four years at Columbia, we realized that we were indeed meant for each other. Two years after graduating we were married (with two friends from Carman 12 as part of the wedding party). That's over 22 years and counting. We often reminisce about our college days. It's fun to share the same college stories. It's great to have the same friends from Columbia. And it's convenient to both know where to get the biggest slice of pizza in NYC. Our bond is that much stronger because we went to Columbia together. I had a wonderful time at Columbia; I became a better person by going to Columbia. But, honestly, the best part about being at Columbia was being assigned to the 12th floor of Carman. I love you, Cristina. Roar, Lions, Roar.” - Rob L. '89CC.
Carmel + Matthew
"I started dental school in August of 2003 and was assigned to live in Bard Hall with the other first year students on the health sciences campus. The first Sunday morning I was casually doing laundry while occupying all 3 washing machines. A tall, handsome, athletic first year medical student showed up and gave me a hard time for monopolizing the laundry room. I was a non-confrontational Oregonian, and I was not familiar with his New York style of straight-talk. I found him very intriguing.
We are very thankful for many of the experiences that we had at Columbia, but most of all for the opportunity to find each other."
- Carmel D. D. '07DM and Matthew D. '07PS
Michael + Alison
"Michael W., SEAS 2011 and I (Alison H., CC 2012) met during my sophomore year at Columbia when I was the RA on his floor in Wien Hall. Mike asked me out several times that year, but as a nervous first year RA, I kept him at bay. The next year I travelled abroad to France in the fall. We kept in touch, and when I returned that spring we started spending more time together, meeting for tea at Joe's every week, without fail. I accompanied Mike to his senior ball at the end of the year, and then he left to start work in Boston. We always kept in touch, and in the fall of my senior year started dating seriously, visiting each other in Boston and New York every other weekend. Shortly before my graduation in spring 2012, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, which we soon after learned was a particularly rare and aggressive form, and was metastatic. We left to meet with my surgeon at Mass General Hospital the day after my graduation, and during my surgery shortly after, Mike spent the day playing scrabble with my parents in the hospital waiting room. Mike held my hand through my continued treatment and radiation, and in December 2012, we got the good news that my treatments were successful. In late January 2013, Mike asked me to marry him at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire while on a ski trip. We are planning our wedding for the 4th of July on the Connecticut shore, near where we both grew up." - Alison H., '12CC and Michael W., '11SEAS
Evelyn + Bruce
"My entire extended family is one big Columbia love story. My parents, Evelyn (Barnard College ’70, Columbia Law School ’73) and Bruce (Columbia Law School ’73) met at Columbia Law School and married in 1974. Evelyn was one of only a handful of women at the Law School at that time, and she likes to say that she had her pick of the class! Bruce and Evelyn have three children who all attended or married Columbia graduates.
Their oldest child, Matthew, graduated from Columbia College in 2000 and holds a Master of Science in Real Estate Development, 2003. Rachel, their second child, graduated from Barnard College ’03 and Columbia Law School ’06. Rachel married her Columbia sweetheart Damian (Columbia Law School and Columbia Business School 2003). Rachel and Damian met at a bar in Morningside Heights 13 years ago and have been together ever since. Laura, Bruce and Evelyn’s youngest child, did not attend Columbia but she married Jason who graduated from Columbia Law School in 2002.
Evelyn and Bruce just celebrated their 40 year wedding anniversary last week, and they now have three grandchildren. We shall see if their grandchildren continue the Columbia love story tradition!" -Evelyn '70BC, '73LAW and Bruce '73LAW
Heather + Kyle
"I was a sophomore on the volleyball team and he was a junior on the football team when we first met...in the Columbia weight room! We were both training after-hours, since we each had internships during the summer and weren't able to work out during the scheduled team time. I asked him for a "spot" on squats, and it sparked a friendship that lasted a few months before we started dating in early 2011. Fast forward to this September, and we just got married. We had so many Columbia alumni (mostly football and volleyballers, naturally) at the wedding that the crowd broke out into the Columbia Fight Song as we got into the getaway car after the sparkler send-off!" - Heather S. '13CC and Kyle S. '12CC
Mitch + Sande
"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. Sande waited tables at a restaurant in a Boise strip mall until she had enough money and took off to New York.
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.
We saw a lot of each other that summer – Shakespeare in the park, movies at the Thalia, Broadway and off-Broadway shows, and weekend trips to the suburbs. In September, Sande went back to Idaho to finish school. We wrote dozens of letters and ran up my phone bill (in those days before unlimited long distance). I went out to Boise over Christmas and met her family. Sande came back to New York with me. We stopped into a jewelry store at LaGuardia and bought an engagement ring. We got married in Boise in June two days after graduation.
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 $5.00 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.
Our picture: We didn’t carry camera phones (or any phones) then. Sande took some pictures around the Student Forum office, which was in the building that stood next to the School of International Affairs construction site. Our only “selfie” was taken in a photo booth in the subway station." Mitch E. '70CC and Sande H.
Mom + Son
"That winter eighteen years ago might be dull and common for others, but it was neither for you and me.
It started normal as I went skiing in Vermont. But for some reason, my legs were so weak that I kept falling on the slopes. It turned out that it was the first time I actually took you skiing with me without knowing it.
When the school nurse told me that I was carrying you, I panicked and cried because I was not ready for a baby while in graduate school. But nine months later, when I first met you at the women's hospital next to the campus, instantly, I felt in love with you, and with your little head, eyes, nose, mouth, hands, and feet. Since I gave birth to you, I have split into two parts. The smaller one was you, the bigger one was not me anymore. I would be poor if I lost my fortune. I would be lonely if I lost my companion. But I would not live if I lost you for losing you would be the same as losing myself.
You grew up in the campus. I remember the little boy running up and down the stone stairs next to the Alma Mater. You have been a fast runner since you could run. It still makes me nervous seeing those stone stairs and imaging a little boy running down with laughter. You loved to laugh when you were little. After I spent a whole day doing experiments in the laboratory, letting you running into my arms and kissing your big smiley cheeks on the lawns next to the college walk turned the campus a heaven to me.
You belong to Columbia. It was in your blood. It is home. You went right back to it eighteen years later. Now the Alma Mater around whom you used to spend your toddler years is the one of your own. You are studying in the same classrooms as I used to study. Seeing you walking around the campus side by side to the little running, laughing boy has made me fall in love with you and the school all over again.
Enjoy Columbia and Happy Valentine’s Day!"
Thomas + Elizabeth
"I first remember meeting Elizabeth in the checkout line at the now defunct Furnald Grocery. She was behind the cash register and I was probably buying coffee and a bagel. I made nervous small talk but it took me years to get up the nerve to ask her out. We dated briefly our senior year, but in the end she dumped me for another guy, but she says that she sort of knew that we would end up together. After graduation, I went to Med school and she to Vet school and our paths separated for quite some time. Every now and again they would cross but the timing was often poor. 17 years after graduation, She dropped me a line that she would be in the city and I invited her to meet in my office and then we would go out for a drink. I had my office manager make her wait, so I could straighten up my office and try to appear impressive. I guess it worked, and we were married about a year later.
That was eight years ago. We have a son and couldn't be happier. We often find ourselves discussing the core and have set up a mini curriculum for our nieces and nephews. On their 16th birthday, we buy them 16 books that they should read before college. The discussions on which books to choose lasts hours and is an oddly moving target. But what we agree upon is how important and formative those years at Columbia were. We also agree that I was a bit of a dope back then, that the other guy turned out to be a bit of a jerk, and that she is still perfect (or at least in my eyes.)" - Thomas N., M.D., '89CC and Elizabeth Z., D.V.M., '89CC
Nadimire + Yves-Richard
"During her first week of classes at Barnard College, Nadimire J. '04BC along with a friend eagerly shopped for textbooks at the Columbia University bookstore. It was at that time this mutual friend, France '04BC, introduced her to Yves-Richard '02CC, a junior at Columbia at the time, also at the bookstore attempting to resell some textbooks.
However, it was not until the spring semester of that academic year and countless AOL instant text messages did their friendship blossom. On one memorable evening after a campus event, they wined down at Seinfeld's famous Tom's Restaurant. Time flew by as they got to know more about each other. They even realized that at one point they had gone to the same elementary school. Although they differ by two class years, who knows how many times they've bumped into each other in the schoolyard. Since that night, a long romantic relationship ensued.
The two married on Long Island, NY on April 15, 2012 and currently reside in lower Manhattan. Nadimire and Yves-Richard are both in the medical field, with a focus in Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology, respectively. Above their greatest accomplishment together is bringing beautiful baby Audrey into the world on July 15, 2013. Columbia and Barnard served not only as a foundation for their education, it catalyzed their friendship, and so will always have a permanent place in their hearts." - Nadimire '04BC and Yves-Richard '02CC
Ilona + Allen
"I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the start of fall semester and the early afternoon was warm with sun-filled classrooms and the lingering of summer’s warm, breezy breath. I walked into Mathematics unknowingly, without thinking, in that familiar muscle-memory way that we tend to do. Class started and went on; students scribbled and daydreamed, I listened and half-listened and maybe didn’t, and then 11:50 marked the shuffle of migrating from one classroom to the next. I stood up and walked through the aged wooden door, already leaving Stat 1211 far behind me. I walked past the lower level vending machines and up the marble creaked staircase, and finally out into the lush, grassy lawn. I was wearing my pink knitted leg warmers that day with a jean-cut off mini skirt. On top, I improvised a Columbia T-shirt lazily (but purposefully) slouched off of my right shoulder and folded asymmetrically to the side. He would later tell me that the quirkiness (if not decadence) of my leg warmers caught his eye as I walked outside of those doors and into the sunlight. He watched me walk along the pavement and down the campus steps, and then blend into the morass of high-tide college lunch. He still tells me that same story 8 years later, leaning in over the candlelight of our dinner table, in our shared apartment a bit further downtown.
We became friends after that sunny day in early October. We both lived in Broadway and shared a Statistics lab on the lower floors. We scheduled plans to do problem sets together, and made a valiant effort to carry them through. But instead we giggled away the hours and took Facebook pictures while fiddling with our TI-83s gratuitously. We laughed together and talked so much. About everything; about life in the way that you do when you’re barely 21, about romance, reeling heartache, and sometimes Kant or Kierkegaard strangely made their way in there too. We signed up for core curriculum classes together. Learned about Gregorian chants, the idiosyncrasies of atonality and Stevie Wonder all while the seasons shifted outside our windows. We went to bars and dressed up for college-themed parties. Then one day, a year or so later and nearing senior finals, he kissed me in the cold winter air on the corner barely outside of 114th.
We’re both now on the cusp of 30. He proposed just before Valentine’s Day of 2011 on the Mathematics lawn, and we got married two years ago with all of our closest college friends standing right there beside us. He’s my best friend in the world and truly my “person” in the way that you hope you can find one. We don’t have any tests to take or papers to write anymore, but we’re still a version of those silly, curious kids who met in a calc-based statistics class way back during junior year. We visit West Village bookstores and read in our favorite coffee shop on the weekends; we hear New Yorker Fest lectures and stroll through this city's incredible art world whenever we get the chance. We love learning together and apart, and perfecting that knowledge-infused and exciting dialectic. Our undergrad lives are the glue that sticks us together, and I can't imagine my world, or our world together, without that stitch of glue stick in our post-adolescent lives.” - Ilona L., '07CC and Allen S., '07CC
This is the love story of my parents:
"As a boy, Wen C. used to walk thru fields of overgrown high sugar cane and on miles of pathways that would get flooded, just to get to high school in Taiwan. No running water or sewer existed in his family’s extremely poor farm village, where he and his brothers maneuvered water buffaloes thru rice paddies—his farming mom’s workplace.
In 1963, Wen C. and Po-Ying C.—both fresh immigrants from Taiwan—married in NYC and lived behind Butler Library (now "frat row") in low affordable housing. He pursued his civil engineering doctoral studies at Columbia, and I was born in 1966 at St. Luke's Hospital—behind Columbia on Amsterdam Ave.—as a result of my parents' love story. Back then, times were tumultuous…The civil rights protests were prevalent. My Dad had limited income as a teaching assistant, yet he still sent money home to his parents… In 1968, Wen C. earned his PhD at Columbia. Twenty years later, I earned my Columbia civil engineering bachelor’s degree when female engineering students were exceptionally rare, and Columbia College had just turned co-ed.
My architect Mom died after my Columbia freshman year, but her enduring love and support for my Dad helped him become the pioneering engineer, land surveyor, general contractor, entrepreneur and real estate developer who has designed drainage, roads as well as water and sewer lines—amenities he never grew up with—for numerous subdivisions, office buildings and shopping centers throughout Sarasota County, Florida and even built numerous houses and condominiums for retirees. I am grateful for their love story at Columbia, their Columbia pride and their love for buildings, which have resulted in my being an active Columbia alumna for 25+ years and becoming a construction consulting engineer with a heart." - Lee-En C., '88SEAS
Erik + Marina
"I arrived at Columbia College in the fall of 1990 as a gangly teen. It started to become apparent to me that I was out of my social depth when they handed out a book consisting of photos of all the incoming freshman—make that "first years"—and mine stood out like a sore thumb. While others, recognizing and seizing the crucial opportunity to put on their best face for the judgmental eyes of 800 classmates, had their pictures taken either professionally or at least with some amount of consideration and design, I had gone to the booth at the local Woolworth’s (they still existed back then) and did my deer-in-headlights when the flashbulb popped. This deeply flattering photo provided many hours of joy to the other residents of Carman 3, thus helping them through the long winter of 1990-91.
The following spring, I went with about a dozen Columbians to meet a College alum who worked in the corner office of a white-shoe midtown law firm. He gave us a talk about his college days that included the story of how he met his wife on the subway at the 116th Street station. I remember pondering whether I, too, would meet my wife during my time at Columbia. It turns out that I did, though this would have come as a great shock to my 22-year-old self if you had mentioned it to me at my graduation.
I first met Marina through my suitemate, who happened to be dating her at the time. She and I became very close friends as college wore on, and—as those who attended our wedding might remember—I used to cite her as the sole exception to my working theory that men and women cannot be friends. We started dating during my first year of law school (bridging the distance on Peter Pan buses between Boston and New York), thus definitively proving my theory about men and women by eliminating the sole exception.
We married in 1999 and had future Columbians: Maddie (a vegetarian, CC '24 we hope) and Maya (our carnivore, CC '26 if we can still afford) soon after. We showed them how to find the owl in Alma Mater's robe before they could walk. We explained to them that Butler Library is the one without the books. And we take them to homecoming every year so they can learn that sports aren't everything in life." -Erik G. '94CC and Marina '94CC
Tatyana + Robert
"Dental school may not sound like the most romantic place, yet that is where our love story began. I was a first year resident in the Periodontics post-graduate program in Columbia, while my (now) husband was in the middle of his second year at the College of Dental Medicine. On what was just another ordinary day, I was on schedule to assist with teaching half of the second year dental students how to do a basic dental cleaning. The other half would be learning on a different day with a different resident. And so, as luck, good fortune, and serendipity would have it, Bobby would be learning on the day I was teaching. Bobby would also happen to be in the specific section of the clinic where I was stationed. And last but not least, Bobby would volunteer as the “patient” on whom I would demonstrate how to do this most common of dental procedures. Several months after that first meeting, we went on our very first date. It did not take us very long to figure out that this was something very special, that we shared many values, as well as dreams and aspirations for the future, and that we needed each other to make them all reality.
The first date quickly turned into a committed relationship. Bobby proposed two years later at the same place where we had our first date. We thank Columbia for not only being the beginning of our professional lives, but for giving us our love story as well." - Tatyana O. (College of Dental Medicine 2009, Post-Grad Periodontics 2012) and Robert G. (College of Dental Medicine 2012, TC 2012)
Jimmy + Vilma
"It was 2005 and I was a newly arrived SIPA student, trolling the classrooms listening to directors pitch their concentrations to earnest and debt-laden students, most us past our prime and returning to school for a second shot at glory, when I noticed her sitting in the first row, all dark features, a bit stand-offish and brooding. The professor had us introduce ourselves and when she said she was from Kosovo it made sense, and I had an angle. I approached her after the lecture, quickly mentioning my time in Bosnia as a way to open up the conversation. She responded with the kind of insult that I continue to find attractive to this day, almost a decade later. Some weeks after, while on a school trip to DC, I ran into her again behind the Treasury admiring the statue of Alexander Hamilton. I explained why he was my favorite Founding Father too, and from that moment forward not even Dr. Betts’ strict rules against fraternization could keep us apart. We were the best of friends, debating Clausewitz on the floor of the philosophy section at Barnes and Noble on Broadway and 86th, attending evening lectures on the existential nature of French historical writing from the 17th century, and collaborating on statistics projects. Our first real fight was over U.S. bombing policy in Kosovo, and even though I walked out of the bar in anger, I respected her position on the dynamics of coercion as a valid foreign policy tool; she had me at Melian Dialogue. Eventually we joined the real world and one day as her work authorization was about to run out, I asked that Balkan princess to marry me, putting an end to the incomprehensible discussions about the byzantine U.S. visa system. Today our adventure continues, overseas for almost four years now, with a dog and a child, and I am reminded every time that I receive a student loan bill from Sallie Mae that whatever the cost, and however long it takes to pay it off, it was more than worth it. Columbia provided me with much more than a degree. Happy Valentine’s Day, Vilma." - Jimmy F. & Vilma S. '07SIPA
Louis + Aylin
"Louis and Aylin met in Scottsdale Arizona in 2005 at a young alumni gathering, only 1 of 1 events. It was a cold Feb night; we chatted at the event for over an hour and went on a date the very next week that lasted 3 hours despite our busy schedules. The chemistry was obvious and easy. We got married in 2007 at the Arizona Biltmore and now live in Seattle, WA with our 2 children, Azalea (age 4) and Kenan (9 months). We hope they go to Columbia too!" - Louis '99PS and Aylin '03SEAS '03, '08BUS
Laura + Michael
"I met my now-husband during my first year at Columbia law school. He was the cute guy in Constitutional Law, and I was the girl who blushed any time he turned around and smiled at me. We finally started dating after Barrister's Ball, and moved in together a few months later. At the beginning of 3L year, he proposed. We were married last September.
I will always remember Columbia as the place where we got to know each other and fell head-over-heels in love. We pulled grueling all-nighters during exam week, ate countless quesadillas at the Heights, spent some sunny afternoons on the quad, and, finally, donned our light blue graduation robes together in the spring of 2012. I never expected to fall in love during law school, but coming to Columbia was truly the best decision I've ever made." - Laura M. and Michael M. '12LAW
Love these love stories? Here's a sneak peak of 2016 new alumni love stories we'll be sharing throughout this week! Stay tuned for more Columbia love!
Michelle + Katie
"I was a senior in high school and on my tennis recruiting trip at Columbia when I first met Katie (then a CC freshman on the Women’s Tennis Team). I was immediately impressed with her graceful one-handed backhand that reminded me of a bygone era of classic tennis. What also stood out to me was that she was so friendly and cheerful, asking me tons of questions about myself to try to make me feel at ease. To be honest, this had the opposite effect and made me feel slightly uneasy. We’ve laughed about this first encounter so many times. I was a reserved and suspicious New Yorker and Katie was an outgoing and bubbly Southern California girl - it was obvious that we came from different worlds. It wasn’t until the following year, when I was a freshman at Columbia and teammates with Katie, that we really got to know one another. We soon became inseparable, she the yin to my yang, and it slowly became obvious to everyone that we were much more than just friends.
Fast forward eighteen years and we’re still inseparable, now settled in San Francisco after years of chasing each other around the globe and living in Washington D.C., San Diego, New York and Colorado. I am happy and proud to announce that we just got married on October 30, 2015 (elatedly following the Supreme Court decision to allow same sex couples to marry across the U.S.). Our wedding was a small but elegant affair, with the ceremony being on the Mayor’s Balcony at San Francisco’s City Hall and the reception at the Legion of Honor - it was the perfect setting, surrounded by Rodin sculptures. Having Rodin’s “Thinker” at the Legion of Honor was a primary factor in choosing this venue, as it brought us back to our wonderful days together on the steps, in the classroom and on the courts at Columbia University." - Michelle H. '01CC and Katie U. '00CC, '03SIPA
Caroline + Kieran
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