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Some Undergrads Tie the Knot in the Ivory Tower

Undergraduates bemoaning their singledom this Valentine’s Day perhaps should read no further. The following young couples, married or engaged, have taken a romantic plunge that remains foreign to many of their peers. But the experiences that led them there—late-night talks in freshman dormitories, commiserating over lab work, and even Internet flirtation—are as familiar as the sight of a tourist taking a shot of the John Harvard statue.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Luke A. Langford ’06-’07 and Amy L. Langford walk side-by-side into the Science Center’s Greenhouse Café. He kisses her hand as they sit down. Affectionate and playful, the newlywed couple tease each other and complete one another’s sentences.

“I actually had a crush on his roommate. In a ploy to get his roommate to go out with me, I invited all of his roommates to go to see ‘The DaVinci Code,’” Amy says of their first date.

“This was the only one willing to drop everything and go. I was a little disappointed,” she jokes. “Luke? Really?”

Luke lightheartedly counters, saying that it was “partially desperation” that accounted for their spending time together at first.

The pair met a little over a year ago.

“Apparently it wasn’t really memorable,” laughs Amy, as both struggle to recall their exact meeting. She was class of 2006 at Wellesley College, but both attended the same church.

After several months of friendship, Luke and Amy found themselves apart for the first time as Luke spent a week in Bangkok, and both realized they missed each other more than they may have expected. On September 20, 2006, when he had returned, they went to a Red Sox game and Amy noticed that Luke was unusually quiet.

“I kind of got the vibe that he wanted to say something but couldn’t,” she says. Later that night, she decided to send him a message on facebook.com.

Amy says the message read: “I think you like me. One, I’m flattered. Two, I could be wrong, and I’m sorry if I am. Three, I don’t think I am.”

Luke excitedly returned the message. They started dating two days later and after two more months got engaged.

The pair married in a Latter Day Saints temple outside of Boston last January.

They now live together in Arlington and plan to work for several years before pursuing further education.

“Harvard is where I go to school, it’s not where I live anymore,” he says, smiling at Amy. “My heart is half out of this place anyway. I don’t mind it too much.”

A GOOD APPLE

Jacob L. Bryant ’07 and his fiancée Jeanette Park ’07 got to know each other the spring of their freshman year while volunteering in the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter and talking over meals. Last October, Bryant took Park apple picking, insisting that they go on a particular day.

His insistence caused Park to become suspicious, and she asked him “point-blank” if he was planning to propose that day. He writes in an e-mail that he denied it, but upon getting to the orchard and finding a private area, he did just what she had guessed.

“After getting over my nerves, I faked as though I was picking a low-hanging apple, only to end up on one knee and ask Jeanette if she’d marry me,” he wrote.

They had an engagement party in the Adams House Upper Common Room following the outing, and they plan to hold their wedding reception in the Adams House Dining Hall this July.

After graduation, the couple plans to move to Washington, D.C. and share a house with two of Bryant’s blockmates and other close friends, though Bryant and Park will likely take a floor to themselves. Bryant writes that this arrangement will allow them their own space while still having a sense of community in their living situation.

‘DORMCEST WORKS’

J.T. Scarry ’07 and Evelyn Lilly ’07 have known each other since the first day of freshman move-in, when they both took residence in the same entryway in Grays Hall. Scarry writes in an e-mail that their first interaction was likely “one of those awkward first-year ‘Hi, my name is X and I come from Y and my intended concentration is Z’ conversations.”

They got to know each other because Lilly planned to go jogging with Scarry’s suitemate at seven each morning.

“Now, as it happened, my suitemate (gay, so not a rival) never gets up because he sleeps three hours a night, so I had to answer the door every morning,” Scarry writes. “The rest, as they say, is history.”

Scarry and Lilly plan to wait until after graduation to get married, listing Memorial Church, Phuket, Cambridge City Hall, or a nice beach in Southern China as possible locales.

“If we continue to live in Boston, Widener/Lamont photos are definitely possible. But Mather is so much more photogenic, we would probably go there first,” jokes Scarry in an e-mail.

For single undergrads, Scarry and Lilly recommend dormcest as a fool-proof way to find one’s other half.

“Dormcest works, we guarantee it,” Scarry writes.

MASS. HALL MAGIC

Matthew J. Pagano ’06-’07 and Nen Cao ’06-’07 were assigned to the same small, tight-knit Mass. Hall dorm their freshman year. Their friendship blossomed into romance sophomore year, and last year they both won a fellowship to study abroad in China for a year, where they grew even closer.

On their second anniversary, Pagano told Cao that he had made reservations for dinner at the restaurant Upstairs in the Square, when in fact he was planning a candlelit dinner in Randolph Courtyard of Adams House. Pagano told Cao that he was spending the day in lab, but instead prepared for dinner, buying lobsters, crab legs, scallops, fruits, and champagne.

“I recruited the Adams super., dining hall manager, and the House masters to help me out a bit,” Pagano writes. “I set a rather fancy table up in the courtyard, and left a note for Nen to meet me there at a certain time. And when she showed up, the dinner was all set, and we ate there by candlelight.”

Pagano explains that even though it may be a challenge to “mix marriage and education” as both attend graduate school, life would be busy with or without a spouse.

“I think if you’re ready, you should try to balance everything and go for marriage, and not put it off just for the sake of a job or education,” Pagano writes.

A NERVOUS PROPOSAL

Adam J. Benitez ’07 and Katherine M. Goodson ’07 met in Greenough Hall their freshman year, yet another example of fated dormcest.

“She lived about 12 feet below me,” writes Benitez in an e-mail. “That’s providence for you.”

Three years later, the couple is engaged after a nervous proposal in a children’s playground.

“After getting down on one knee and popping the question, I started taking her glove off,” Benitez writes. “Too bad it was her right hand.”

Benitez writes that their future plans are mainly focused on marriage, and that neither are certain about continuing their education or career plans.

“In general, you should avoid asking seniors that; they might start having convulsions,” he writes.

Yet love means never having to say you’re sorry, apparently.

“Part of learning to be the right person is learning to forgive, because as great as your soulmate is, he or she is not perfect, and is bound to disappoint you,” Goodson writes. “But love is forgiveness.”

PERSISTENCE AND MARMOSETS

For Corin M. G. McLean ’07 and Ryan Boyko ’05, facebook.com helped pave the road to engaged bliss.

The two met in a rather unromantic place—the lab. Their romance sparked during McLean’s sophomore fall while working in the Cognitive Evolution lab.

“He saw me in lab meetings and thought I was cute and so stalked me on Facebook and AIM until I agreed to a meeting,” McLean writes in an e-mail. “We’ve been together ever since, despite the fact that my hair smelled like marmosets for about the first six months of our relationship.”

Boyko proposed to McLean on Virginia Beach while visiting McLean’s family. Armed with a rock from dirtcheapdiamonds.com, he proposed on the beach at night, attracting attention from unexpected sources.

“I screamed and laughed and cried so much that a police patrol slowed down to make sure nothing was wrong,” McLean writes.

McLean stresses the need to strike a balance between being demanding of one’s partner, realizing that the other person will be demanding as well, and learning to make concessions in the relationship.

—Staff writer Aditi Balakrishna can be reached at balakris@fas.harvard.edu.
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