Longhorn Love Stories
For those who say you can’t mix business and love, we offer ample proof to the contrary. Romance abounds at McCombs and on campus, from first dates at Think and Drinks and fateful Preview Weekends to blind dates and chance encounters over Bono. From the class of ’94 to the class of ’12, 11 couples share their UT memories, life and love.
Jenny Leeds, MBA ’95, and Sandy Leeds, MBA ’95
Jennifer and Sandy met at the Salt Lick during Orientation in August 1993. As it turns out, they both graduated from the University of Virginia the same year, Jenny with her B.A. and Sandy with his J.D. The two started dating at the start of their second year. What was the response from classmates? “They thought Jenny was out of her mind. They still do,” says Sandy. They never took classes together, instead spending time outside of class enjoying Austin. Among their favorite destinations: Bookstop and Central Market. (“Nerds in love…” says Sandy.) After graduation, Jenny worked as a brand manager and Sandy as a money manager. They now have three kids. Jenny home schools two of them, and Sandy is a senior lecturer in finance and president of the MBA Investment Fund at McCombs.
Melissa Evers-Hood, B.S. ’94, MBA ’03, and Ken Evers-Hood, B.A. ’94
Melissa and her friends were at a gathering at University Presbyterian Church on the Drag discussing Valentine’s and the fact that none of them had dates. They hatched a brilliant plan for a “Male-bashing Dinner Party.” Overhearing their conversation, Ken piped in: “Can I come? I’ve got men to bash!” The rest is history. Melissa and Ken were engaged by May and married seven days after graduation in 1994. The couple now lives in Portland, OR with their three kids and a dog. Portland is great, says Melissa. Their only beef: You have to buy a premium cable sports package to catch the UT football games.
Meagan Pishnick, BBA ’06, MBA ’12, and Cameron Gates, BBA ’03
Meagan and Cameron met as members of Undergraduate Business Council, when she was a wide-eyed freshman and he a senior. Cameron says he’s not sure what did it, but he won Meagan over. It could have been his knowledge of the Austin scene, the fact that he was performing in a band on 6th Street or “that she could tell I was simply in love with her.” The couple has stayed together while living hundreds of miles apart, through Meagan’s undergraduate years, Cameron’s medical school and residency and Meagan’s recent return to McCombs for her MBA. Meagan and Cameron were engaged this past January 8, almost exactly eight years after their first date in February 2003. They hope to settle in Austin, where their romance began.
Kathryn Kmiecik Vernau, BBA ’01, MBA ’07, and George James Vernau Jr., BBA ’99
Sometimes it’s all in a name. Kathryn and George’s story started with Freshman Business Association. Kathryn approached George after a spring meeting to discuss meeting agendas. George recalls feeling an instant connection. (So much so that he called her later the next day, because he had no idea what she’d asked him to do.) On Valentine’s Day, George called Kathryn to ask her on their first date. Over ice cream and Dr. Pepper, George explained the history of his family name: his first name was from his dad and his middle name (James) was from his maternal grandfather. George’s future wife would need a father named James, so his son could be George James III. As it so happens, Kathryn’s father’s name is James. They were engaged on Valentine’s Day four years later and married in 2003. The couple now lives in Houston with their 16-month-old son George James III. Kathryn is a legal consultant with Huron Consulting Group, and George is president of Containerhouse International.
Angie, MBA ’03, and Jeremy Gorr, MBA ’03
Jeremy first saw Angie on a Customer Insight’s Bat Cruise during Orientation. “I must have been blinded by the bats, because I don’t remember seeing him there at all!” says Angie. Fortunately, Angie and Jeremy ended up in the same customer insights class their second semester, a class Angie nearly dropped. Jeremy called Angie one evening, under the guise of needing tips for an upcoming interview with her former employer, Dell. At the end of that conversation, he asked her out. Their first date was at the Alamo Drafthouse. Soon after, Jeremy helped Angie move. “I was a goner after that!” says Angie. The couple married in October 2004 and soon moved to Laguna Beach, CA. Their first son was born in April 2009. The couple recently moved back to Austin, where Jeremy is a senior product manager with Seilevel and Angie is looking for a job.
Courtney Naismith, MBA ’99, and David Naismith, MBA ’99
Courtney claims that she knew the day they met that David was the one. Shortly after their marriage one year later, Courtney and David began talking about graduate school. Both wished to pursue an MBA and wanted to make that journey together, despite the financial adjustments. Courtney and David were thrilled when they were both accepted to McCombs. Courtney ran the Graduate Business Conference and co-chaired the Leave-a-Legacy campaign. David was GBC president. “The most memorable moment was definitely graduation,” says David. “We were both recognized for our service and that was a special moment to share with our friends and family and each other.” David works in engineering operations at Cisco, where he has been for the past 12 years. Courtney returned to graduate school to earn her master’s in accounting and her CPA. She now teaches accounting full-time at Collin College. The couple has been blessed with four children: sons Alex, Jack and Will and daughter Claire.
Elena Campa Gormley, MBA ’01, and Brian Gormley, MBA ’02
One night, Elena headed downtown to the Whiskey Bar with her second-year classmates. Making her way to the jukebox to play some U2, she was soon joined by a tall stranger. At that moment, fate and a shared appreciation for Bono intervened. “What about some U2?” he suggested. That stranger turned out to be first-year McCombs student Brian. Flash forward a few hours later to Elena and Brian at an after-party, singing U2 and dancing under a disco ball. “We walked out of the party hand in hand and within two months, we had already decided that we wanted to be together forever,” says Elena. They now live on the south shore of Massachusetts. Elena stays at home with their two daughters, Julia and Ava, and runs her own photography business. Brian works in marketing at Ocean Spray Cranberries.
C. Noelle Herbst Coen, BBA ’01, and Jason Coen, BBA ’01, MPA ’01
In February 1999, Noelle was set up on a blind date with fellow McCombs student and lifelong Longhorn fan Jason. Burnt orange sparks flew from the start, and they spent their second date celebrating Valentine’s Day together. Jason proposed to Noelle on the State Capital grounds in November 2000. The two will soon spend their thirteenth Valentine’s Day together and celebrate their tenth anniversary in August. Noelle and Jason have two sons--Grant and Andrew--and are expecting their third child in May. “We can look back and say it has been a wonderful adventure,” says Noelle.
Stephanie Bula Nelson, BBA ’08, MPA ’08, and Roth Nelson, B.A. ’07, BBA ’07
Sophomore year, Roth served as a counselor for Camp Texas, where he met fellow BHP student Stephanie. Both were still involved with their high school sweethearts, but Stephanie and Roth remained on friendly terms. Their paths continued to cross after Roth graduated and returned to Dallas. (Due in no small part to his persistence.) After a shared dinner (not-quite-date) over the holidays and a foiled breakfast date in Austin, Stephanie graduated and moved to Dallas. Months later, a fateful encounter with mutual friends tipped-off Roth to Stephanie’s weekend plans, where he asked her out on their first real date. “Unassuming me didn’t realize it was a date until he showed up. So glad it was!” says Stephanie. Roth proposed to Stephanie at Enchanted Rock near Fredericksburg in May, and the couple wed this past New Year’s Eve.
Stacie (Harris) Cockrell, MBA ’96, and Ross Cockrell, MBA ’96
Stacie and Ross met during Orientation week. The two remained friends for 18 months before romance bloomed their final semester in the program. Ross recalls surprised reactions from classmates when they showed up on their first date together at a Think and Drink. “Given that most couples kept their ‘status’ a secret, we were met with blank stares and questions like, ‘So you came together?’” says Ross. Three months later, Stacie and Ross were engaged, and one year later, the two married. Stacie and Ross have lived in Austin since graduation. Stacie is a stay-at-home mom to their three kids and co-authored “Babyproofing Your Marriage” with classmate Julia (Pirkey) Stone. Ross co-founded Escalate Capital, where he works today.
Vanessa Huffman, MBA ’03, and Will Huffman, MBA ’03
Vanessa and Will were meant to be from day one on campus. They crossed paths at a Faculty Smackdown event during Preview Weekend in April 2001. The two met, again during Orientation, ended up in the same cohort and quickly became friends and study mates. Six months later Vanessa and Will were dating. Vanessa recalls many study dates at Will’s condo on Speedway. “We remember many hot days walking to and from campus, lugging our 50-pound backpacks!” says Vanessa. Three weeks after graduation, the couple wed in Austin, surrounded by their MBA classmates. Vanessa worked as a strategic systems analyst for the Department of Defense until the arrival of their first child. Will is a business manager and IT consultant with SMSi. They now live in Fredericksburg, VA, with their two children, Addie Rae and Enoch.