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Cupid Merges Business and Romance at McCombs — Longhorn Love Stories 2015

The spring semester has sprung, and the wafting scents of love, coffee, and freshly printed business cards are in the air. With Valentine's Day just around the corner, we've found alumni far and wide with stories of class, chance, and true love, all from under the roof of the McCombs School of Business. From bonding over a tedious final project to sharing childhood memories in the most unconventional ways, these couples show that you really can mix business and romance. 

Sean, BBA '96, and Valorie Waggoner, BBA '95

Valorie and Sean Waggoner with their familyWhen Valorie was assigned to a group project team of four during April of her last semester at McCombs, she worried she would have to complete the entire project by herself. However, her concerns were dashed when one of her teammates, Sean, came to a team meeting prepared with research and willing to help. "Valorie was a pretty good student, and I wasn't a very good student," Sean jokes. "I don't think she would have picked me as her group project partner — I needed a little help from the teacher." After the two finished their assignment, Sean asked Valorie out on a date. The pair dated for a little over a year before getting engaged in June of 1996. 

Valorie recalls being a favorite student of the professor who assigned her the group project, while Sean wasn't quite as popular. "Sean threatened to invite her to our wedding and I said, 'We shouldn't do that, it might give her a heart attack,'" Valorie says with a laugh. Sean, who grew up in Dallas, recalls his first conversation with Valorie being about her past internship in Houston, to which Sean commented, "I hate Houston." Now, after living there for 20 years and working as a partner in a national insurance broker firm for the last 14, Sean says he supposes the city has grown on him. The couple have a 9-year-old daughter and 6-year-old boy-girl twins. 

Of course, both Sean and Valorie are still Longhorn fans, and enjoy going to the football games. "We're friends with [marketing senior lecturer] Herb Miller, so we enjoy spending some time with him, and we get back to Austin occasionally," Valorie says. 

Kyle Meyer, BBA '14, and Ashleigh Monk, BBA '14

Kyle Meyer and Ashleigh Monk photoWhat was originally a random Undergraduate Studies course on Latin America blossomed into a promising friendship for classmates Kyle and Ashleigh. After having a conversation by the UT Tower one day, the pair began to sit next to each other during class, and even became study buddies. They were inseparable, always walking to class, doing homework, or chatting at Starbucks together. "Occasionally we would branch out and I would drive us somewhere away from UT to eat and catch up," Ashleigh says. "We talked about school, our families, our friends. We could talk about anything, and that's what made our friendship so special." 

One day in January 2012, the pair went to the restaurant Hula Hut for lunch, and before they knew it, five hours of conversation had gone by. Eventually, the topic of Valentine's Day came up, and Kyle asked Ashleigh out on a date for that evening. "I just remember being incredibly nervous, and hoping that every detail went well," Kyle says. "I was honestly worried that if for some reason our date didn't go well, our amazing friendship would dissolve." Despite Kyle's qualms, their evening at Vince Young's Steakhouse was "the very best first date," as Ashleigh recalls. Kyle brought her flowers, wrote her a sweet note, and drove them in front of the Tower — where their friendship all began.

After three years of dating, Kyle proposed to Ashleigh in December 2014, and the couple will wed this September. Kyle currently works for The Coca-Cola Company in Dallas in a supply chain rotational management program. Ashleigh graduates from the MPA program this May with her master's in accounting, after which she will work for KPMG in Dallas this fall.

Rachel Simpson, MBA '13, and Bill Blackstone, MBA '14

Rachel Simpson and Bill Blackstone photoRachel and Bill met years before either of them joined the MBA program while working for Rackspace. On Rachel's first day at the headquarters in San Antonio for her training, he was giving the new hire presentations. While Rachel was assigned to the office in Austin, the two were reacquainted when Bill was transferred to the city a few years later. Rachel had just started her MBA, and it was only a matter of time before Bill pursued his MBA as well. "Since we worked at the same company, it was really fun for us to 'nerd out' on business school stuff," Rachel says. 

While Bill's study group prodded him to ask Rachel out, it wasn't until Rachel completed her MBA that the pair started dating. The week before Bill's graduation in spring 2014, Rachel joined him and his MBA class on a trip to China. When Bill didn't propose on the trip, Rachel had a sneaking suspicion that the proposal would happen during graduation weekend. Her instincts were right: During the private executive MBA program ceremony prior to commencement, Bill stopped the ceremony, invited Rachel onstage, and asked her to marry him. "As I was leaving the stage, I ran into all these girls crying and tearing up, and I felt so bad because I was just grinning from ear to ear," Rachel remembers. Luckily, she was still somewhat surprised — she thought that he would actually propose during the family luncheon the following day, not at a graduation ceremony! 

Today, Rachel is a senior consultant with Deloitte, and Bill still works for Rackspace as the leader of the Austin office. The pair are set to tie the knot this May. "I get comments of how gutsy it was to propose in front of [so many] people, but the reality is that it was an insurance policy," Bill says. "Who's going to say no in front of 400 people?"

Katherine Frolow, BBA '06, MBA '12, and Richard Rose, MBA '12

Katherine Frolow and Richard Rose photoIt was the Texas MBA Program that brought together two Virginians who spent most of their lives growing up only 20 minutes away from one another. At the time of their enrollment in the program, both of them were dating other people, so their love story was put on hold. While the pair were in the MBA program, participated in the annual MBA finance challenge, and went to football games, they didn't have much interaction. 

Despite the disconnect, their lives were intertwined with coincidences. "It is amazing how we grew up so close to one another and never knew each other," Katherine says. One of Richard's good friends at the University of Virginia turned out to be one of Katherine's high school friends. The couple also share many of the same childhood memories. Katherine says that as children, both she and Richard would go to Washington, D.C., to look at the National Christmas Tree, and to The National Cathedral for Christmas or Easter. "We have memories of the Air and Space Museum and the National History Museum, and shopping at Tysons Corner," Katherine says. "We have fun talking about what we used to do." 

The coincidences were uncanny, and as fate would have it, both Richard and Katherine learned they would be moving to Houston post-graduation, both newly single. After getting settled, Katherine began investigating Richard's relationship status. and asked him to meet her for a cocktail. They agreed to go to El Tiempo for their first date, and have spent almost every day together since. Richard and Katherine are now engaged and will be married this April. "The Texas MBA Program will always have a special place in our hearts — it was the start of the greatest journey of our lives," Katherine says.  

Jennifer, BBA, '04, and Brent Kratky, BBA, '03

Brent and Jennifer Kratky with their familyWho says love at first sight doesn't exist? It all began when Jennifer stopped by McCombs at a different time of day than usual. While taking the elevator, she noticed a handsome young man. Later that evening while out with her friends on Sixth Street, Jennifer saw him again at a bar. The pair struck up a conversation about their random encounter in the elevator, and it wasn't long before Jennifer and Brent went on their first date to a UT basketball game. "He was a pledge trainer [for the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi] that year, and he was out with his AKPsi buddies and pledges," Jennifer recalls. "After that, my friends started calling him, 'Elevator Boy.'" 

While Brent was a senior and graduated that spring, Jennifer was a junior. .When Jennifer took an internship in Chicago with Boeing that summer, she asked Brent to visit her. "That was a big moment in our relationship," Jennifer says. "We got to do all the sightseeing together, and went and saw the Fourth of July fireworks in downtown Chicago together." 

On Valentine's Day of 2004, Brent took Jennifer to a production of "Phantom of the Opera" at Bass Concert Hall. While they were out, a roommate of Brent's decorated Jennifer's room with rose petals and candles. When the couple returned to her house, Brent proposed, and the following October they married. Today, Brent is with the Department of Veterans Affairs Financial Services Center as a supervisory financial management specialist. Before Jennifer took a break from her career, she worked as a financial analyst for USAA. Today, Jennifer works directly with the Terry Foundation, interviewing students for scholarships for several Texas universities, including UT Austin. The couple have two children, a 5-year-old daughter, Tara, and a 1-year-old son, Theodore. "Being in Austin, it's nice to kind of introduce our kids to UT," Jennifer says. "We've had some fun a couple times taking our daughter to campus and walking around, and I take her to my old sorority house, too."

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