Category: Student Experience

Title: Hoyas Who Found Love on the Hilltop

Sitcom Rivals in Journalism School

Charis Hanner (G’18) is a producer at NBC News and Daniel Gomez (G’18) is a policy staffer in the Senate.

How They Met: Two alumni from the School of Continuing Studies

Charis: We were studying journalism in the School of Continuing Studies. We had a journalism class together every semester. We both started noticing that we were the most outspoken in class. When I say we were rivals, if he said something right wing, I answered left wing. If he had a historical fact, I had a historical fact. It was like a sitcom. I never expected it to go anywhere.

Daniel: We were frenemies, not necessarily rivals. We mostly had spirited discussions about politics, journalism, culture and how the program could take us closer to our goals.

How They Knew:

Charis: We were out for pizza with our cohort one night, and we were talking about falling in love. It sounds so cheesy, but I remember having a thought like, it’s going to be the two of us. I shook it off. A few months later, he asked me out for dinner one night. The rest is history.

Daniel: I remember where I stood when I asked her on our first date. It felt like a good opportunity to get to know her better. It was history after that.

Charis and Daniel were engaged in 2020. Charis converted to Catholicism, and they married at Dahlgren Chapel in 2021.

Daniel: Charis is absolutely fearless in front of the camera, and I know it’s because she draws strength from the little girl on the other side of the screen. I hoped it would rub off, but I’ll take the last name for now.

Charis: When I’m with him, I always feel at peace. And it all started because of SCS. I’m in the job I’m in, and I’m married to my husband because of Georgetown. It helped keep a roof over our heads and keep our hearts warm.

‘I Married Up’ Michael Karam (SFS'72)

Michael Karam (SFS’72, L’76) is a retired Department of Justice tax lawyer and active alumnus at Georgetown. His wife, Linda Morgan (L’76), was the last chair of the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission and first chair of the Surface Transportation Board. Linda passed away in 2015.

How They Met:

Michael: I can’t remember the exact moment, in large part because Linda was a force of nature at the Law Center. She was a law student, she spearheaded all the student committees, and she was involved in student government. I was always aware of Linda.

Their first date was at a Georgetown vs. Holy Cross men’s basketball game at McDonough Gym in February 1976. They both loved basketball, and they sat in bleachers behind the basket.

Michael: She accepted me for who I was. I was shy when it came to women. She had a way of drawing me out. I had a way of spontaneity and goofiness that appealed to her. It served us well over 38 years.

Michael proposed to Linda the night after their bar exam in 1977. It was spur-of-the-moment; he doesn’t believe he had a ring. They married at Dahlgren Chapel in 1977; the then-Law Center chaplain, Father James B. Malley, S.J., presided over their wedding. Michael worked at the Department of Justice as a tax lawyer for 28 years. Linda was the first female General Counsel of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. They had one daughter, Meredith (C’07). In 2011, Linda was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. After a two-year period of remission, the cancer recurred, and she passed away in 2015.

Michael: Georgetown was one of those places that got me through when Linda died. The dean of the Law Center was the very first call I received after it happened. It meant the world to me. Whether it was the athletic department, main campus, law center, Georgetown was there for me. I can never repay what Georgetown has done for me and my family.

Linda was a force of nature. That continued throughout our 38 years of marriage. Boy was she an amazingly impressive woman! Like all men who know what’s going on, I married up. It turned out well for the both of us, I have to say.

A Couch Proposal 

Joy Lyu Monahan (C’91, MPP’94, P’22) leads diversity efforts for AbbVie Legal, and J. Michael Monahan (C’94, P’22) is an attorney and law professor. They live in Chicago and their son is a senior at Georgetown.

How They Met:

Michael: It was 1989. I was at the Saloon Bar during happy hour. Joy popped her head in to say hello to the bartenders because she knows everyone. I had on a yellow Morton-Salt-style raincoat, and I decided I looked like Christopher Robin.

Joy: He introduced himself as Christopher Robin.

Michael: It worked like a champ. We’re still together 31 years later.

Joy and Michael graduated from Georgetown in 1994, she from the McCourt School of Public Policy and he from Georgetown College. A year before they graduated, they decided to get married.

Joy: His professors in the ICC [Intercultural Center] called him the “sleeping angel.”

Michael: I used to have long gaps between classes, so I’d sleep on the couches on the fifth and sixth floor of ICC. Joy used to call the receptionist to find out which couch I was on. I woke up from one of my naps, and we said, graduation is coming, we should probably get married. We scheduled it like you would a conference call.

Joy: We got married on June 4, 1994 and had our reception at the Car Barn. All of our favorite Georgetown professors came. The dean of the College, Fr. Robert Lawton, officiated our wedding. It was a beautiful day, a beautiful view of the school and DC. It was just fantastic.

Love in Medical School

Joseph Letzelter (C’08, M’12) is an orthopaedic surgeon and assistant professor at Georgetown. He works at Children’s National Medical Center. Jimmy Economides (C’09, M’13) is a plastic surgeon and teaches plastic surgery residents at Georgetown.

How They Met:

Joe: We were both in pre-med undergraduate classes, but we didn’t become friends until medical school. We were both volunteering for the HOYA Clinic when I got to know him. During our residency, our friendship turned into something more.

Jimmy: We met my first year of undergrad. Over the years, our paths continued to cross since we both stayed at Georgetown for medical school and residency. We became very good friends.

Joe: When we first found out the other had stronger feelings, I remember being very surprised that we had both kept this to ourselves and so lucky that we had figured it out.

How They Knew:

Joe: Easy. We were best friends before we started dating. I started developing stronger feelings for him, but didn’t think it was in the cards until one day, we both realized we meant more to each other.

Jimmy: Joe was so easy to talk to and be around that our relationship developed naturally. We were inseparable. They were engaged in 2019 and married in January 2022 in Miami. Joe: Georgetown is where we spent 13-14 years of our lives, and we continue to work with the Georgetown Medical School and hospital. It is a part of who we are and has shaped who we have become. We consider it home, and it will always be that way. Jimmy: Georgetown is home to us. It will always be the foundation of our relationship since that’s where we met and spent many years.

A Coffee Shop Meet-Cute, Kind of

Bill Rebeck is a professor in the department of neuroscience. Andria Wisler, Ph.D., is the executive director of the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service.

How They Met:

Andria: I read a story about Bill on the Georgetown website. (Thank you, GU Comms!) I was a new faculty member, the only full-time professor in the Justice & Peace Studies program, and an introvert awkwardly trying to make some friends on campus and in DC. I emailed him and tried to come up with a connection between my work (conflict transformation) and his (neuroscience). He emailed me back and told me I used too much punctuation; when I asked him to meet up, he said he had a deadline but would email me back in 10 days. I assumed I would never hear from him again. But 10 days later, there was an email from him, and we met for coffee at MUG in the ICC the next day.

Bill: She was sitting at a table but seemed so comfortable that I didn’t think she was someone waiting for me. So I just stood there awkwardly looking for someone else until she came over to say hello.

How They Knew:

Bill: After we were dating for a couple months, I took a trip to Israel. I called her most nights. I remember one night talking to her while looking at the stars. You are just going to stay with someone that you talk to while looking at stars in Israel.

Andria: It was around Valentine’s Day and Bill gave me a card with a bumblebee on it (my favorite) and wrote “I love you” in Serbo-Croatian inside the card, a language that I learned for my Ph.D.

In August 2010, Bill proposed to Andria in the main quad in front of the statue of Mary. Bill waited until a class near the statue finished. He had hidden a vase of roses behind the statue.

“I was not going to propose in front of a class of Hoyas. But then they suddenly left, and I brought Andria over to Mary and asked, and she said, ‘We are going to have so much fun!’”

Bill Rebeck

They married five months later, in 2010. Their son, Jackson, was born at the Medstar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH) Hospital in 2012 and attended Hoya Kids.

New York Meets DC

Serena Williams (C’03) is the chief people officer for Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry, and Jason Williams (C’03, G’12) is a social worker at Community Connections.

How They Met:

Serena: I first met Jason in July of 1999 at the Community Scholars orientation in the ICC auditorium. We were all first-generation college students, most of us from inner cities, so we all had so much in common. Jason was a DC native, so he was always answering questions about the city, where things were, how the metro worked, you name it. We were just friends, but I knew there was something different about him.

Jason: She was a typical New York City girl, tough and glamorous, but really understanding and curious about what life had in store for her.

Serena: We took a philosophy class together and developed a great friendship. We would hang out and eat lunch together in New South, and eventually his borrowing my notes also meant him leaving cute notes for me.

They started dating second semester of their first year. Their passion for social justice united them, and they both served as team leads for FOCI [First-Year Orientation to Community Involvement].

How They Knew:

Serena: Jason was never afraid to be vulnerable, and I loved that about him. He was also a young parent, and watching him care for his son and drop everything to be there when he needed him was so impressive, all while balancing the workload and demands of Georgetown.

Jason: Serena understood me even when I was struggling to understand myself. She also grew an incredible bond with my two-year-old son, and I just saw us becoming a family.

Jason proposed on Copper Field, Georgetown’s football field, in 2009 and they were married that same year. In 2018, they hosted their baby shower for their son, Evan, on Leavey Esplanade. They continue to volunteer through the Alumni Admissions Program (AAP) and meet regularly with young people to discuss their time at Georgetown.

Jason: Every once in a while, I think about how it feels like only last fall we were heading to our first Midnight Madness and trying to sneak food into Lauinger for late-night study sessions. Then I realized we have shared such an incredible journey over the past 22 years.

In many, many ways Serena is still the smart and beautiful young woman who motivated me to study a bit harder and sit up a bit taller.

Jason Williams (C’03, G’12)

A Lost Letter

Katrina Perito (C’14) works in communications for a French government agency, and Ben Perotin (C’14) is a law clerk to a judge for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

How They Met:

Katrina: I got mail delivered to my house for Ben. My last name is Perito, and Ben’s is Perotin, so it seems like the mailman got confused. I had heard people talk about this “Ben” person, but I had never met him. Later that night, I was out at Tombs, and I saw him from across the room. I told him I had some of his mail at my house. He may have thought I was a little weird. Later, I gave him the misplaced letter, and we’ve been dating ever since!

Ben: I remember Katrina saying, “Hey, you are Ben, right? I see you walking sometimes.” I remember thinking, who is this weird girl? Am I being stalked? I didn’t know what to make of her, but I appreciated her humor and confidence.

After graduation, Katrina taught English for a year in a small village in Normandy, France. Ben worked as a paralegal in New York City. Three years later, Ben attended law school at New York University, and Katrina got her master’s from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in French, followed by a year of working in Paris.

How They Knew:

Katrina: In 2018, I was living in France for the second time in our relationship. I was supposed to be there for a final internship, but my company wanted to hire me for a short-term contract. Ben told me to accept the offer without hesitation. The fact that he loved me enough to give me the space to explore my passions, and that he understood how important France was to me, showed me that he was the one.

Ben: Both of us have been through difficult periods in our personal and professional lives together, and I’m not sure when I realized it, but at some point it dawned on me that she was the only person I could laugh and smile with in the good times and cry and commiserate with in the hard times. That is a rare attribute to find in a relationship and a sure sign that it is someone worth holding onto.

Ben proposed in New York City in 2021, and a week later, Katrina planned another proposal in New Hampshire, saying that it was “important to me that our engagement be an affirmative choice for both of us.” They plan to marry in October 2022 in Connecticut.

Katrina: I find it remarkable that despite having such similar last names, we didn’t meet the end of our Georgetown experience – and then we ended up graduating one person apart in line! Georgetown was a formative experience for both of us in many ways.

Courting over Cookies

Guinevere Eden is the director of the Center for the Study of Learning and a professor in pediatrics at the Georgetown University Medical Center. Thomas Sherman is a professor in pharmacology and physiology.

How They Met:

Guinevere: I went to a champagne reception in the Physiology Library to celebrate a Georgetown researcher getting an R01 grant. Tom and I first started talking there. I’d seen him before but never met him.

Tom: I was in my office and saw her walk by. I thought I should go talk to her. I remember speaking with her and all these people trying to join the conversation – and they just couldn’t. We were just talking to each other.

Guinevere: Can you see? He’s got tears in his eyes. He’s a very romantic person.

Tom had brought peanut butter cookies to the reception that he was preparing to auction later that evening for a master’s program celebration. 

Guinevere: Weeks after, cookies would show up in my office. The administrator who ran our center would say, “He’s been here again.” Ginger cookies, all sorts of cookies. It was lovely.

Tom: She traveled a lot, and so I figured I would bring her cookies. It seems like forever ago. Guinevere: During a trip to Qatar, I got stuck at Heathrow because my travel documents were not up to date. Usually, I would be happy to be stuck in London, but instead I so desperately wanted to get back to Tom! We had our first date a few months later, and it moved pretty quickly after that.

Tom and Guinevere married one year later in 2007. Both of their children were born at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and attended Hoya Kids Learning Center there. 

Guinevere: After Annabelle was born, we all went to that auction again. Tom announced his cookies. He said, ‘Two years ago, I baked these cookies for a woman I was courting, and I’m now married to her and here’s our beautiful daughter.’ The cookies went for a small fortune.

Tom: They were magic cookies.

“We have a love story, but Georgetown is integral to our story. Georgetown is where we have worked for 25 years, where we met, where we had our children. Last year, I received life-saving cancer treatment here; I had stage 3 breast cancer. It’s been one-stop-shopping for us at Georgetown.  So this is our Georgetown love story.”

Guinevere Eden

Love Over Documentaries

Kimberly Marcela Durón (G’20) is assistant director for content production at the Washington Office on Latin America and Kashir Aboud (G’19) runs a sneaker and streetwear company called Customs by Kash and a YouTube channel, where they bring awareness to non-binary and trans issues.

How They Met:

Kim: We had a documentary production class together. We each had to create our own documentary. Kash explored their gender identity. I explored issues of the Central American diaspora in the U.S., which is a personal story of mine as well. We both learned a lot about the things that were important to us. I hadn’t thought much about my identity, but as I started to get closer to Kash, I was like, I really like this person, and not just as a friend. I went through my own process of understanding my identity. At the end of the semester, we showed our documentaries, and we grabbed dinner after. It was a really, really nice time.

Kash: Kim has a really good heart, and she wants to make the world a better place. She’s also a great advocate for her community and other communities as well.

How They Knew: 

Kim: I come from a Latin American and immigrant family. There aren’t folks in my family who are “out,” at least not in my generation. When I did come out at age 23, it was a thing. My family is very important to me, and Kash was very supportive. They told me that they would be there for me. Even if we needed to take a break from dating, they would be a part of my support system. That was the moment I knew. This is what a partnership is, you know?

Kim and Kash continued their relationship over their two years in the master’s in the Communication, Culture & Technology (CCT) program. Upon graduating in 2020, Kim began producing content at the Washington Office on Latin America. Kash had graduated the year earlier, and had launched Customs by Kash, a sneaker company, and a YouTube channel. 

Kim: We spent a lot of time on campus at Georgetown. We had a lot of questions about our identity there. So I think both of us look at Georgetown as the place where we discovered a lot about ourselves as individuals, but we also got to discover each other and our love grew from that place. It’s a very, very special place in both our lives.

Kash: Georgetown will always be a part of our origin story, and I’ll always have very fond memories of that part of the relationship where you’re getting to know each other. I will always be very grateful for CCT for bringing us together and for Georgetown being the backdrop to the start of our relationship.

Dance Partners

Neha Jejurikar Parikh (NHS’12, M’18) is in residency training to be an orthopedic surgeon, and Ronak Parikh (B’12) works in corporate strategy at an education tech company. They live in New York City.

Neha: We first met at the Hindu Student Association’s orientation. I was a freshman and he was a sophomore. I thought he was really cute, but we didn’t talk much.

Ronak: I met her parents first because she arrived late. They introduced us. A few weeks later, we had Rangila. It was a popular South Asian arts show with 10 different dances. I wanted her to be in my dance after our first few interactions on campus. And I thought she was pretty.

Neha: One of his friends planning the dance was trying to play matchmaker. I ended up in this random dance with him.

Ronak: Then we just got to know each other. We had a lot of other similar interests. We were both involved in campus ministry. It seemed like we had very similar values.  I probably waited too long to ask her out. I was pretty nervous but my friends were like, ‘Dude, just go ask her out.’

They dated all four years at Georgetown and were both presidents of the Hindu Student Association, where they were involved with campus ministry interfaith efforts. As alumni, they helped hire Georgetown’s first Hindu chaplain. They also were involved in the Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) and New Student Orientation. They continued to dance together through Jawani, Georgetown’s South Asian dance troupe.

How They Knew:

Neha: We started dating so early – I was only 18 – and we really grew up together.

Ronak: We learned a lot about each other’s values, because I think Georgetown is a place where you talk about that kind of stuff with your friends. We both made decisions based on the other after graduation. Every step of the way we realized we wanted to make sacrifices for each other to be with each other.

In 2016, Ronak proposed in Gaston Hall where they first danced together. They married in 2017. On the inside of their wedding bands, they engraved Georgetown’s motto, “Utraque Unum” or “both into one.”

“The way she serves her patients embodies ‘men and women for others’ and ‘cura personalis.’ That is so core to Georgetown, to our upbringing and to our values system. It’s how we think about our careers and why we do what we do.”

Ronak Parikh (B’12)

Neha: For some people, Georgetown is an experience and then you move on from it. I think because both of us had that experience together, it stays reinforced in some ways. It’s nice to have those shared values moving forward in our lives.

Ronak: It was not only such a formative experience but, moreover, it allowed me to meet Neha.

They are expecting their first child in April.