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Longhorn Love Stories 2014

It's nearly Valentine's Day. That means it's time for our annual installment of Longhorn Love Stories, where we share the stories of sweethearts who met at the McCombs School of Business and are still going strong today. From a casual study partner to a cow sticker, love can turn up in unexpected places for business school alums.

Anne and Brien Smith

Brien and Anne Smith in the Dean's box at UT football game

In the late 1970s, he was the student at the front of the class arguing with the professor about the two points missed from a perfect test score. She was one of just a few female UT finance majors and was only looking for a study partner — not a future husband. For Anne Quinius Smith, BBA '79, and Brien Smith, BBA '79, MPA '81, a test result would lead to future love. On that test, her score was about average, while he earned 103 out of a possible 105. "And then he argued the two points with the professor, [saying] that the professor was wrong," Anne laughs. "I looked at his score and I looked at my score, and I said, 'Do you want to go to the library?'"

Soon, the pair — who still weren't dating — began visiting the library almost nightly to study. One evening, Anne went out to dinner with some high school friends she had known most of her life. The group decided to swing by Brien's apartment. "When we left, they looked at me and they said, 'You're going to marry him,'" Anne recalls. "I said, 'You don’t understand, we're just friends.'" But they were right, and in late 1979, the couple married. They'll celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary in December. "All because he was the smart guy at the front of the class," Anne says.

Rebecca and Rick Szelc

Rebecca and Rick Szelc seated at table

It was like a fairytale. But instead of an enchanted forest, their story began in a small room on the top floor of the McCombs School of Business. "That little 6-by-6 foot room with walls that went about halfway up to the ceiling came to be known as Rick's office," says Rebecca Eddins Szelc, MBA '90, about her future husband's favorite study spot, which they routinely visited to study throughout school.

Two years after graduation, the couple was still dating and living in Dallas. Rick Szelc, MBA '90, suggested they take a trip to San Marcos to do some Christmas shopping. He convinced his reluctant girlfriend that it would be fun to stop by McCombs along the way. When they arrived at their old study spot on the top floor, Rick proposed.

"Twenty one years and one daughter later, we are still married, and he is still more nostalgic than I am," jokes Rebecca.

Today the two live in Dallas with their 16-year-old daughter. Rick is a managing director with Neuberger Berman and Rebecca is a director with Berkeley Research Group. 

Christy and Mark Roberts

Mark and Christy Roberts wearing leis

It was orientation week 1992 when Mark Roberts, MBA '94, noticed the girl driving the big truck. "She definitely got my attention," says Mark, who then hitched a ride back to campus with Chrystine Buchholz Roberts, MBA '94, after their class rafting trip. But it wasn't until the pair found themselves in the same microeconomics class the next semester that they really started dating. And as romantic as economics is, the couple also enjoyed socializing outside of class at weekly "Think and Drinks."

During spring break of their second year, Mark and Christy road tripped through California with several other MBA students and then married the following summer in 1995. They made their home in Atlanta and had two children. Today, Mark owns a private equity firm while Christy devotes much of her time to local non-profits.

Andrew Blake and Sandra Alcorta-Leal

Andrew Blake and Sandra Alcorta-Leal in formal attire 

 On the first day of MPA orientation, Andrew Blake, MPA '09, arrived early and was given a sticker with a cow on it that corresponded to the table where he should sit. Fifteen minutes into orientation, Sandra Alcorta-Leal, MPA '09, showed up, grabbed a cow sticker, and sat down next to Andrew. Little did either of them know, this would be the beginning of a terrific relationship. They ended up being the first couple to develop out of the program, earning the nickname "The Sandrew" from the rest of their class.

"Dating a fellow MPAer was great because we had that much more time to hang out," Andrew says. "We had the same classes or at least had classes in the same buildings at similar times and went to all the MPA events together. I think it allowed our relationship to grow faster."

Andrew and Sandra were married in November 2010 with around 15-20 people from the MPA Program in attendance. Andrew is currently a senior consultant at FTI Consulting and Sandra is a senior financial analyst in Fossil Group's global capital and corporate expense group.

Interviews by Jeremy Simon, Madison Hamilton, and April Stockwell.

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