Married Undergrads Seek Balance

Ashley Anglade

The McGinnisses are both undergraduates, he at Harvard and she at Wellesley. The couple takes a break from studying for final exams to play with their two year old daughter, Sophie.

In October, while his peers were busily cramming for upcoming midterms, Eric Westphal ’14 had something else on his mind. “I wanted to surprise my wife for our one-year anniversary,” Westphal says.

E. Hillel Z. Nadler ’11 does not consider himself a very good cook, so he does most of the housework—washing dishes, sweeping and mopping floors, and cleaning the bathroom—to help out his wife, he says.

And after attending a day’s lectures and sections, Loren S. McGinnis ’11 comes home to an apartment in Cambridge for his after school “extracurricular activity”: being with his family. “Having a family is like being involved in clubs or athletic teams,” McGinnis says, as he picked up his giggling two-year-old daughter Sophie and put her in his lap.

These three young men are both students and husbands, a dual responsibility undertaken by 7 percent of American college students, according to the 2003 United States Census. But at Harvard, the number of married students is far below the national average. Here, only 27 undergraduates identify themselves as married, according to Karen Pearce, director of operations for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar’s Office.

Though many undergraduates have romantic attachments while on campus, few of them choose to marry while students. And unlike relationships that end with graduation, these students married with the understanding that their relationship would last the duration of their lives.


“We believe that...marriage is an eternal commitment,” McGinnis says.

Whereas some say they choose to marry for religious reasons, all of them say they did it for love.


To hear Westphal, McGinnis, and Nadler talk about how they met their future spouses sounds more befitting a romantic comedy than the mundane happenings in the real world.

Westphal met his wife in their high school’s graphic design class. He was a sophomore, and she was a senior. After dating for eight months, Westphal says he was ready to pop the question, so on the day of his wife’s birthday, Westphal organized a scavenger hunt that led her to his house.

“I was hiding in the little side of the backyard,” Westphal says, “and she found me with a ring.” At the time, he was 19.

Nadler, who took a year off to study abroad, met Tova S. Weiner Nadler ’10 at the beginning of their freshman year at Harvard Hillel. Within a few months they were dating, and by the next summer, Nadler says he was thinking about marriage.

The two visited Toronto for the marriage of one of Nadler’s family friends. While strolling around downtown, Nadler led Weiner to a music store, where Nadler sat down on a piano nearby and played Sam Cooke’s love song, “You Send Me.”

“Now I find myself wanting to marry you and take you home,” Nadler sang.

The couple tied the knot in a traditional Jewish ceremony in Los Angeles last January.


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