Longhorn Love Stories 2017
As Valentine's Day approaches we take a look at the love that has been kindled among the study sessions, books, and homework in the halls of McCombs School of Business. From high school sweethearts and happenstance class acquaintances, every year a handful of couples fall in love during their time at McCombs, eventually saying "I do."
Natalia Brownfield, BBA/MPA '08, and Andrew Brownfield, BBA/MPA '08
How they met: Natalia and Andrew had a class together, Intro to Tax, the second semester of their junior year. At the same time they were both going through the job recruitment process. The first time they spoke they were at a KPMG Karaoke event at Speakeasy, a bar in downtown Austin. Andrew saw Natalia sitting at a table with one of his friends. "I went over and started talking to her because I assumed she knew him," Andrew says. "It turns out she did not."
Dating: The pair had two more classes together during the summer sessions. "He was so easy to talk to," Natalia says. "We had a lot of commonalities." That summer, Andrew asked her out. "In a study session I got the impression that she was a very genuine person, and that was very refreshing," Andrew says.
The proposal: After graduation, they dated long distance. She worked in Dallas and Andrew worked in New York. "I would come down and visit quite a bit," Andrew says. Later they planned a trip together to New York. They went to lunch at a boathouse in Central Park and rented a rowboat. Out on the boat, Andrew proposed.
Making it official: Natalia and Andrew were married Oct. 1, 2011, back in Austin at University Presbyterian Church on Guadalupe Street where Andrew attended church throughout college and they later attended together. The reception was held at the Austin Club where the two were surrounded by family and friends.
Today: In October, Andrew and Natalia will have been together for 11 years and married for six. They have a son, James, who is 21 months old and already a Longhorn fan. "He's been to two games and we have taught him the fight song," Andrew says. "'Hook 'em horns' is the new thing." The Brownfields live in Dallas, where Natalia works for Celanese and Andrew for Match Group.
Mitchell Patel, BBA '07, and Kim-Anh Nguyen, BBA '07
How they met: Mitchell and Kim-Anh met when they were both 16. The two went to neighboring high schools, had their first job together, and went to UT. They both ended up at McCombs, where they rekindled their relationship.
The proposal: Mitchell proposed to Kim-Anh on a hectic day, he recalls. The couple was rushing to move into a new apartment. That evening they went to a Stone Temple Pilots concert with a couple of friends. After the concert, Mitchell led Kim-Anh to their apartment where a single rose was waiting on the door. Kim-Anh thought it was a gift from the building since they were new tenants. "That was when I took her hand, looked deeply into her eyes, and started confessing my love and desire to spend the rest of my life with her," Mitchell says. Inside the apartment, the couple walked down a candlelit path of rose petals to a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of champagne, and a jewelry box. Mitchell proposed on bended knee and Kim-Anh said "yes."
Making it official: The couple married in Houston at the Houston Club on March 14, 2009. They were the first of their friends to get married. "We just really wanted to throw a big party," Mitchell says. There were a little over 200 guests — half were friends either recently graduated or still in school.
Today: Kim-Anh and Mitchell have come full circle since their first job together as teenagers. Kim Anh has worked at Phillips 66 since graduation, and after seven years as an investment banker, Mitchell joined her there.
Rupesh Patel, BBA '05, and Roshani "Rosie" Patel, BBA '05
How they met: Before Rosie started her freshman year at McCombs she attended Business Excellence Starts Today camp, where first-year students prepare for their time at McCombs. Rupesh, a sophomore at the time, was acting as a camp counselor. He recalls when they first talked. "I just remember having a basic conversation and thinking 'wow, she is completely different than any other person I have met so far,'" he says.
Rosie remembers him being extremely helpful and interested in ensuring she had the best experience possible while at UT. At the time, she thought this was normal for older students, but she came to realize he was different from others.
Dating: On their first date Rosie was unsure if it was a date or not. "You meet so many people your first week and ask them to hang out. I decided that if he offered to pay for dinner then it was a date," she says. He did. After dinner they drove to San Antonio for the evening to explore. Once on campus again they called the police on some vandals using spray paint to graffiti, later witnessing the police chase them.
"It was a memorable and spectacular first date," Rosie says. They both remember the shooting star that passed over them that night. It seemed too good to be true. By December of that year, they both were pretty sure they had each found "the one."
The proposal: In September of 2007 the couple, now together for six years, was in town for Austin City Limits Music Festival. Friday night at ACL, Rosie remembered being pleasantly surprised by how many friends just happened to be in town that weekend as well. Little did she know, it was not a coincidence. On Saturday morning, Rupesh took Rosie to the spot where they had seen the shooting star on their first date. He got on one knee on the steps of the East Mall, and Rosie said "yes."
Making it official: They got married in Dallas on Oct. 25, 2008, in a large wedding with 550 people, which Rosie says is not atypical of Indian marriages.
Today: The couple now lives in Dallas where Rupesh is a partner at a small consulting firm, Stagen. Rosie has taken time off work to help raise their 2-year-old son, Archie.
Arlene Gonzalez, BBA '09, and Luis Gonzalez, BBA '08
How they met: Arlene and Luis, both members of Hispanic Student Business Association of McCombs, met while organizing the College 101 event, which brings at-risk high school students to campus to learn about college. For Luis, Arlene stood out in the crowd. With her looks and intelligence, he thought he had no chance. Arlene was struck by his amicable personality. As they got to know each other, she came to love his intelligence, humor, and heart.
The proposal: For Valentine's Day 2009, Luis decided to get started a little early: He surprised Arlene on Feb. 5 with a large bouquet of roses. The next day, he texted her and asked her to get dressed quickly for a nice dinner. He surprised her with a dinner on the River Walk in San Antonio. Luis had arranged a boat to carry them on the water while they ate a four-course Italian meal.
That Saturday, the couple returned home from dinner. When she came to her bedroom she opened the door to see a path of rose petals leading to Luis, kneeling. Behind him on the bed, rose petals spelled out "Will you marry me?" Arlene said "yes."
Making it official: Arlene and Luis had their "dream wedding" at Sacred Heart Church in Houston on July 10, 2010. Luis can still remember the way he felt watching Arlene walking down the aisle. "My heart almost came out of my chest!" he says.
Today: The couple now lives in Houston where Arlene works as dean of instruction at Houston Independent School District and Luis works as upstream information and analytics strategy lead at Shell Oil. The couple travels frequently together and live with their two dogs, Bevo and Rocky.