Rachel Esplin Odell ’10 came very close to missing her own engagement.
It was reading period of her junior year at Harvard, and Rachel had three papers due in succession. She stayed up all night completing a 25-page essay, raced to turn it in, and sped off to the airport to fly to Washington, D.C. to visit her boyfriend, Georgetown student and Utah native Scott Odell.
She missed the flight.
Luckily, she got a seat on the next plane and arrived in Washington, where her boyfriend took her on a tour of the White House—and then proposed to her in the Rose Garden.
The couple met in the summer of 2008 at a Church of Latter Day Saints event in the capital, where Rachel had an internship and Scott was taking summer classes. They started dating soon afterward, and about a year later, they were married at the Mormon Temple in Idaho Falls, Rachel’s hometown.
“It was a beautiful day, just perfect,” Rachel recalled. “We believe that if we’re married in the temple, we’ll be together forever, not just ‘til death do us part.’”
They spent their honeymoon in Thailand, then continued on to China, where Rachel completed research for her thesis on China’s involvement in the World Trade Organization and Scott worked for a nonprofit firm.
Scott took a semester off from Georgetown to live in Boston with Rachel while she completed her final semester at Harvard. “We didn’t want to do the long-distance thing anymore when we were married,” Rachel says. Since she had taken five classes in the second semester of her freshman year, Rachel was able to arrange her schedule so that she could graduate in December of her senior year.
“Now, looking back on it, it was fortunate that it all worked out. I personally feel that it was a great blessing,” she said. “It made it work out for our marriage. I feel it was kind of providence guiding my path.”
Since Rachel’s graduation, the couple has been living in Washington. Scott is finishing his junior year at Georgetown—though he is older than Rachel, he took time off from college to serve a Mormon mission in Mississippi—while Rachel translates research papers from Chinese to English and works as a research assistant to a Chinese studies professor at Georgetown. Next year, she will hold a one-year fellowship with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Rachel also says she was lucky to experience engagement and marriage at the same time as one of her close friends. Her roommate Stephanie Brinton ’10 got engaged within two weeks of Rachel, and the roommates’ weddings were just two weeks apart.
“It was nice to have someone to go through the whole wedding planning process with,” Rachel said.