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Know Your Network: Alumni sweethearts make the ultimate connection

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Valentine’s Day holds a special place in the hearts of many graduates of Goizueta Business School. On this day filled with flowers, candy, and acts of kindness, alumni couples who met or got to know each other better during their studies and later married reflect on their meeting, school, and the joy of shared memories.

Katie (Potochney) Francfort 13MBA and Brian Francfort 13MBA

When did you meet?
Brian and I initially met in 2004 during our freshman year at Gettysburg College.

Was the attraction immediate or did you grow on each other?
It depends on who you ask! Gettysburg is a small campus, so we shared some classes together freshman year. Since Brian lived in the same dorm as some of my high school friends, we’d walk back from class together and he’d let me into the dorm so I can say hello to my friends. Although I may not remember that as well as Brian does, he claims that we had a lot of great conversations that started our friendship! But it wasn’t until our junior year when we started spending more time together and began dating. 

What is your favorite Emory memory as a couple?
Welcome Weekend is one of our favorite Emory memories. We already had a great impression of Goizueta after Julie Barefoot, Heather Holland, and others sang happy birthday to Katie at a NYC recruiting event, but Welcome Weekend really sealed the deal.  It was so exciting because we both felt certain that this was the right place for us after experiencing the campus, community and meeting a lot of people who were about to become lifelong friends. It also marked the beginning of a new experience and commitment for Brian and me as we agreed to leave friends and family, move to a new city, and start a new chapter together. 

What advice would you give students, who are considering dating while still in school? Dating while still in school was a great decision for us!  It was really nice to have that go-to person you could rely on, especially in a new environment.  We were each other’s study partner, carpool buddy, and party co-host, and the best part was that we were making all new friends and memories together.  The best advice we can give is to make it a point to say “yes” to things outside of class.  School life can get busy but what’s equally as important as your grades is building relationships and friends that will last a lifetime. 

Andrea (Rodriguez) Arabia 00BBA and Michael Arabia 00BBA 09WEMBA

When did you meet?
We met our sophomore year while Michael was performing for No Strings Attached.

Was the attraction immediate or did you grow on each other?
Yes, we had an immediate attraction that grew into a beautiful relationship and friendship.

What is your favorite Emory memory as a couple?
Taking walks and having a picnic at Lullwater Park.

What advice would you give students who are considering dating while still in school?
Don’t over complicate things, if it feels right and you enjoy being with one another and respect each other, then spend time together. Enjoy those moments and see where it goes. 

Arun Dhamija 13MBA and Shubha Rao 13MBA

When did you meet?
During orientation, while at a Braves game (though we barely talked to each other that evening!).

Was the attraction immediate or did you grow on each other?
We definitely took our time getting to know each other as friends before there was anything more. The first semester as an MBA student can be overwhelming. Plus, Arun had just moved to the U.S. and was adjusting to a new environment, so there was lots going on to say the least. The fact we had common friends, brought us closer. Consequently, we ended up spending a lot of time with each other that first semester. The rest, as they say, is history! In all honesty, we continue to grow on each other every single day.

What is your favorite Emory memory as a couple?
There are so many to choose from, which is why going back to campus is like stepping back in time to all those wonderful memories. If we had to pick, there are two that stand out:  first, all the lunches we ate together between classes, talking about everything and nothing at the same time. It is such a simple act but one that we cherish because those moments brought us closer. Second, and Shubha’s pick, is our engagement photo shoot around Emory campus. Looking at those photos always brings a smile to our faces.

What advice would you give students, who are considering dating while still in school?
Dating during business school is not uncommon. Although we were very thoughtful about (1) getting into a relationship with a classmate, and (2) making it public. Imagine if it didn’t work out, and now you’re stuck with the same group of people and each other for the next two years!

Jokes aside, navigating your individual job search processes and professional goals is the toughest part because so much of it is outside your control. Our best advice for those situations is to be upfront and honest with each other on what are your deal breakers (for me, it was Arun being an investment banker; for him, it was living in different cities after graduation), where you can be flexible, and what you need from each other to make your relationship and careers work.

Also, don’t forget to spend time with your classmates too. Once you graduate, you won’t get to see them as much, so build and nurture those relationships too.

Megan Costa 01BBA and Dan Costa BBA01

Where did you meet?                                                                                             We met in Cox Hall. 

Was the attraction immediate or did you grow on each other?
We were introduced by mutual friends and Dan did not impress Megan. It would take another year and a half for her to give him the time of day. And she’s so glad she did. 

What is your favorite Emory memory as a couple?
So many good ones to choose from! I’d say it’s likely graduation. It just so happened that we were lined up next to each other for graduation and that was a really special day for both of us.  Also, we really enjoyed our classes together because it provided a great opportunity to learn a new side of one another. For our organization and management class, Dan, Megan and David Roemer 02BBA wrote a business case for what would later evolve into Dan and David’s business, Ideas United. On the few groups projects we worked on together, we quickly learned that we had “different” ways of attacking the challenge.   

What advice would you give students who are considering dating while still in school?
Go for it. Go with your Gut. Find a person that supports you, challenges you, and accepts you. Successful careers start with a strong foundation at home.

Adam Hamberg 12BBA and Marni Baron Hamberg 13BBA

When did you meet?
Halloween 2009.

Was the attraction immediate or did you grow on each other?
Immediate!

What is your favorite Emory memory as a couple?
Trips together. We went on the Goizueta ski trip to North Carolina and attended three fraternity formals in Panama City Beach.

What advice would you give students, who are considering dating while still in school?
Just because one person goes abroad without the other or graduates first doesn’t mean you can’t stay together. The time when Adam studied abroad while Marni was at Emory was actually a pivotal time in our relationship, and it made us realize how much we cared for each other. Also, we had a one-year long distance relationship when Adam worked in investment banking in New York and Marni was a senior. Adam couldn’t visit Atlanta that entire year, so Marni had to travel to New York once a month so they could spend time together. Sometimes you have to make short term sacrifices to make things work long term.

Kate Calligaro 11MBA and Will Felder 13JD/MBA

When did you meet?
Actually, we met in middle school; we were in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” together (Kate was Helena and Will was Bottom). We were friends throughout high school and college but didn’t start dating until after we had graduated.

Was the attraction immediate or did you grow on each other?
Definitely grew on each other; neither of us were at our best in 7th and 8th grades! Deciding to go to graduate school as a couple was definitely a significant step forward in our relationship and going through the graduate school application process together added another layer of complexity to an already challenging experience. Fortunately, everything worked out for the best, and after four wonderful years in Atlanta and at Emory we got hitched right after Will’s graduation. 

What is your favorite Emory memory as a couple?
We lived in the Highlands and would go get oysters almost every Tuesday night with a big group of classmates. Right after school started back up from winter break in 2011, there was a big ice storm and Emory was closed for a week. Fortunately, that didn’t stop the Fontaine’s crew from meeting up as usual. We still keep in touch with those friends on a group text ten years later!

What advice would you give students, who are considering dating while still in school?
Ensuring that you support each other while in school and after graduation is key. Business school can be very demanding, with classes, extra-curricular activities, recruiting, and your personal life all compete for your time. Once you graduate, both of your careers are going to be fast-paced and demanding. The most successful couples we know from school never let one person’s professional life crowd out the opportunities for the other. There are always compromises but making sure the other person feels that their professional ambitions are fully supported is absolutely essential. For us, one of the unique benefits of working to make a relationship between two professionals work is the ability to be a sounding board for each other, knowing that we both share a common background from our time together at Goizueta. It’s incredibly valuable to be able to talk to each other about work and know that we can easily relate to each other.

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Nicole Golston
Nicole Golston has been leading the editorial charge at Goizueta Business School for more than 10 years. As managing editor for Emory Business, she writes, edits, and manages the publication process from inception to delivery. Prior to working at Goizueta, Nicole served as Medical Editor with Pfizer Inc., in New York.