Alumni couples who found love on the Farm
In honor of Valentine’s Day, alumni couples share how they met, recount their time on the Farm and offer students and postdocs advice on balancing school, careers and relationships.
After meeting and dating at Stanford, countless Cardinal have tied the knot, many returning to campus to get married at Memorial Church. In honor of Valentine’s Day, these alumni couples share how they met, recount their time on the Farm and offer advice for long-lasting Cardinal love, including one couple that broke up in their early 20s, only to reunite more than 40 years later.
During their freshman year in 2007-08, Bianca Argueza and Sam Saenz lived in Florence Moore Hall, but their paths never crossed. They met for the first time the following year during an orientation to become Peer Health Educators and became best friends during their senior year when they were both staff members in Casa Zapata.
“We didn’t want anyone to know when we first started dating, so our first date consisted of us sneaking out of the dorm to eat frozen yogurt together in downtown Palo Alto,” Argueza said.
The couple graduated in 2011, Argueza with a bachelor’s in human biology and Saenz with a bachelor’s in psychology. The next six years of their relationship would be long-distance as they each pursued medical school and residency trainings at separate institutions. Today, Argueza is a pediatrician at the University of California, San Francisco, and Saenz a psychiatrist at Stanford.
Argueza and Saenz, who will marry at Memorial Church in May, offered some advice for current Stanford students and researchers managing school, careers and relationships.
“Do what makes sense for your relationship, and don’t feel pressured to follow anyone else’s path or timeline,” Argueza said. “Our journey made sense to us, and that’s all that matters. Love finds a way.”
Matt Wojtaszek and Ashley Kim have been together since the beginning of their frosh year in September 2014. They first met at New Student Orientation when a group of FroSoCo freshmen took a walk around campus to get to know each other. Although Kim doesn’t remember Wojtaszek being there, their paths crossed a few weeks later when they passed on a stairwell in the dorms, and the rest is Cardinal history.
One of their most memorable experiences together on campus occurred on their third anniversary when Wojtaszek asked Kim to meet him at the Law School terrace. Kim arrived and was surprised to find flickering candles, roses and a Mediterranean dinner.
When it comes to relationships, Wojtaszek encourages students and postdocs to look at them like an investment. “Just like school or a career, what you sow is what you reap,” he said. “The more time and effort both parties put into a relationship, the more that will come out of it.”
Today Wojtaszek works for a 3D printing manufacturer. Kim, who took time off from school after her junior year, will graduate this spring with a degree in engineering (product design). After they marry at Memorial Church in June, they will relocate to Boston, where Wojtaszek will start a chemical engineering PhD program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Thea Tran and Brian Swenson met in the fall of 2009 when they were frosh living in Burbank. The pair spent the rest of their college years together, hitting the books, attending football games and planning their lives and careers after Stanford. They both graduated in 2013.
One of Tran and Swenson’s favorite memories on the Farm occurred their sophomore year when they briefly joined the Band so they could go to the Stanford football game at the University of Oregon. “One of our friends was in the Band and told us that we could go to the game if we joined the Band for a few weeks.” The catch, though, was that they would have to play the sousaphone, something neither had done before.
“So, we went to Band practice and picked up the sousaphone. And by ‘pick up,’ we literally did just that,” Tran said. At the game, they did their best to blend in. “We’re not sure who was actually playing music during that half-time show, but it sure wasn’t us. We did, however, think our dancing more than compensated for our lack of pitch.”
Tran received a bachelor’s degree in engineering (product design) and Swenson a bachelor’s in management, science and engineering. Today, Tran is in her fourth year of medical school in Colorado and plans to become a sports medicine doctor. Swenson works in corporate strategy and investing for a large health care firm in New York City. In June they’ll return to Stanford to get married in Memorial Church.
Tony Watkins and Melissa Lawson attended competing high schools in Sacramento, but didn’t meet until they were undergrads at Stanford in the early 1970s. “I was home for the summer doing a Stanford in Sacramento internship in the Democratic Caucus Office when I finally got to meet Melissa Lawson. That’s when I fell in love with her the first time,” Watkins said.
Watkins graduated in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in English, and Lawson with a bachelor’s in economics in 1975, the same year she accepted his marriage proposal. But soon she began receiving job offers, including one from a congressman who was impressed with her work at Stanford on behalf of Africans who were suffering from an extended drought.
“He wanted her to head relief efforts there; I wanted a traditional hearth and home here,” Watkins said. “Melissa wisely chose to make life better for thousands of people rather than for just one selfish and immature man. We split up.”
Over the next few decades Watkins taught middle and high school, worked for an investment company and later returned to teaching as a tenured professor at a community college. Along the way he married twice, was widowed both times, and became the father of two daughters. Lawson pursued a career in public service and education, married, had four children and eventually became a single parent.
More than four decades after they broke off their first engagement, Watkins and Lawson met at a gathering organized by mutual friends and rekindled their romance. They recently became engaged again and will marry at Memorial Church next year.
“It has taken us 45 years to return to our Stanford beginnings, and it is wonderful to know that we shall reconnect our lives at the Stanford chapel in 2020,” Lawson said. “We owe Stanford our deepest gratitude for our educational development and our first and lasting love!”