Love at HBS is a celebration of the diverse expressions of love that exist on our campus and in the world around us. This project showcases stories of love from students at Harvard Business School.

Laura Sandoval & Javon Tai, Class of 2021

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Whenever classmates ask us “where did you two meet?” we always look at each other, awkwardly smile, and say “we met at HBS.” Confusion usually settles in as they gaze at Laura’s ring finger, and we quickly explain that we met six years ago while participating in the Summer Venture in Management Program (SVMP), a one-week HBS MBA immersion for diverse, rising college seniors.

At SVMP, we developed a friendship, which turned into a relationship a year later during Laura’s work trip to the New York City Wine and Food Festival. We started off long-distance—flights between New York City and Minneapolis, lengthy FaceTime calls, and random gifts characterized the first seven months of our relationship. It was difficult, but we knew we had something special.

By chance, Laura inched her way closer to me. She was tapped for a role in Philadelphia, and I was serendipitously staffed on a project there for over a year. Eventually, she found an opportunity close to New York City, and lived in Harlem while I was in Brooklyn.

We spent every weekend together. Hours spent cooking, laughing, and watching movies turned into hours studying for the GMAT as we jointly decided to pursue our MBA degrees. It was during this time that I crazily decided to propose to her and secure our future together.

Now, as HBS students, we fondly reflect on our long and winding journey that showed us that our love is enduring. No matter what lies ahead, we’ll always have each other.

Rabbiya Hanif & Carlos Sanchez, Class of 2021

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Now, this is a story all about how our lives got flipped-turned upside down. And we’d like to take a minute, just sit right there. We’ll tell you all about our Section D love affair.

It all began on the first day of RC year, when we learned we’d be seatmates. In true HBS fashion, our first conversation was a bit awkward, driven by Rabbiya (not Carlos, who has the social graces of a pre-marriage Prince Harry and the jaw-dropping good looks of a young Jon Hamm…see photo).

After breaking through the proverbial ice, we quickly realized we’d become the best of friends. We both had a passion for fun and humor, much to the dismay of our professors, who began cold calling us to scare us out of having distracting personal discussions during class. On this foundation, we fortified our relationship with trust and (often brutal) transparency. Finding someone willing to be real with you so early on during our time at HBS was invaluable and made HBS feel like home.

Some advice: find yourself a best friend who is not afraid to give it his or her all (i.e. kayak you across an entire river as you pretend to move your paddle) and ask the tough questions in life (i.e. What are your goals? Do you really want that job? Why do you eat so much dining hall sushi?). We know this semester will be challenging since our new seats have forced us into a long distance relationship, but our relationship will be sustained by constant eye contact and shenanigans outside of the classroom.

While romantic love isn’t in the cards for us (…one of us happens to have a secret marriage), the love we share and the genuine care we have for one another are among the greatest gifts HBS has given us.

Leila Meliani, Class of 2020 & Mike Cox, Class of 2021

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It’s hard to believe that we met nearly ten years ago. We were introduced by a mutual friend at a football game between our two schools, Howard University and Morehouse College. What began as a friendship turned into a love that grew over several years of long-distance dating, six cities, two separate MBA application cycles, and way too many flights to count!

It wasn’t easy to balance our personal and professional lives amid constant change. Despite the distance, we did our best to grow our careers and our relationship while aligning our paths to finally meet in the same place.

That place turned out to be HBS.

We’ve experienced life at HBS both as students and as partners, an arrangement that offers the benefit of calling two sections home (love to sections J and A!). Learning how to support each other in school and at home has been an incredible part of our journey. We feel grateful to have this time to build our futures together.

Mae Abdelrahman, Class of 2021

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I think about my mom every single day.

We share a bond that I will never be able to duplicate with anyone else. We always have each other’s backs and we push each other to be better versions of ourselves. My mother and I express our love by sharing stories, laughing uncontrollably, and passionately debating. My mom taught me to be curious, to question everything, and to never stop exploring.

These traits that she instilled in me have taken me far from home, but her love and comfort always bring me back. No matter how far apart we are, I know that my mom is always there for me. Whether I’m excited, nervous, or scared, I can call my mom at any hour and she always makes time to talk to me.

My mother has given me so much; I owe all of my accomplishments to her. I’m not sure how, but one day I hope I will be able to repay her.

I love my mom more than I can express in words.

Chichi Anyoku, Class of 2021

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He’s the only boy I let play with my hair.

His smile is contagious and his laugh is pure joy.

He is growing and learning and changing each and every day.

When a baby is born, the world changes around it. Because of little Alex, my life has changed for the better. I am his Auntie Chichi.

I am learning about life through a new set of eyes. His curiosity reminds me that the world is full of magic.

I am becoming a better aunt with each and every playdate. He plays with my curls and together we laugh.

I am becoming a better sister to his dad, my brother Ikenna. He is changing too.

I am becoming a better version of myself – filled and fueled with the love of a child.

Soltan, Class of 2021, & Nina Bryce

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Our wedding officiant called Nina and my story a “love at first sight that took awhile for that second look.” The first time we met was at a Morehead-Cain scholar mixer event at UNC. She approached me, her recognizably warm and glowing demeanor immediately disarming. "I've heard of you,” she said, “we have a lot of interests in common.” We chatted about travel and sustainable agriculture. “Let’s stay in touch, I’d love to get to know you better,” I said. We exchanged numbers and went our separate ways.

By our senior year, somehow we’d managed to share two disciplines and never sit a course together. We’d both been committed to the local sustainable food movement. We’d spent three years hanging out in neighboring houses, even the same houses, just never at the same time. Then one Saturday, working at the Farmers Market, we ran into each other and learned we were both registered for the elusive “EATS 101,” an interdisciplinary food studies honors seminar, in our upcoming last semester.

We finally took each other up on those phone numbers, texting under the table at our first EATS dinner. I’d never seen such starry eyes. Every week, after an hours-long heated seminar discussion, we cooked, arranged flowers, wined and dined together at class dinners. And on a field trip to Asheville, for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Biltmore Estate kitchens and vineyard, the snow was not the only thing falling.

That magical weekend was seven years ago, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Julio Cedeno, Class of 2020

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Never could we have imagined the lives we would have together.

Never could we have imagined meeting the love of our lives in our freshmen dorm.

Never could we have imagined sharing one of the most formative experiences of our lives together as Stanford undergrads.

Never could we have imagined getting married one week after graduation.

Never could we have imagined being blessed with travel opportunities from eating arepas in rural Colombia to shark-diving in South Africa to watching the sunrise over ancient temples in Cambodia.

Never could we have imagined handling long-distance from the United States’ East Coast to Australia’s West Coast for nearly three years.

Never could we have imagined doing business school back-to-back, trading off being the student and partner, and doubling up on the friendships and memories.

Never could we have imagined a Texas guy and California gal surviving four east coast winters.

We have given up planning and stayed open to the doors God opens, following our love for each other even when sacrifice is involved or making choices others deem crazy (see getting married at 21). We have course corrected when things are not working and recognized that our long-term marriage must always win out over any short-term decision. We have never regretted choosing the other person over the job, city, or opportunity that is right in front of us.

Never could we imagine what is next.

Tarun Galagali, Class of 2021, & Angeli Patel

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The night I fell in love with Angeli was the night that we drove to my hometown.

She was a first-year law student who was just about to start a summer internship in the area. It was our second time seeing each other, and for the record, we were still “just friends.” She told me on Instagram that I had to show her the roads when she moved down to South Bay. On the Sunday evening before work, she got her wish!

Our first stop was Jollyman park. We went outside and took a walk. As we neared the basketball court, I stopped talking and abruptly sprinted to touch the rim. I got it on my third try. Angeli laughed and "wooo'd" me. I felt rather proud.

We got back in the car, driving by grand vista points and un-grand tutoring centers. I didn’t want to stop talking to her, so I found something or the other to tell a story about.

Around 10:00 PM, we neared my childhood home. The lights were still on. I asked Angeli if she wanted to knock on the door and see who lived there. Anyone may have hesitated. But Ang got out of the car, and came with me -- recording the whole interaction on her phone.

In the two years since, Ang and I have been on car rides around the world, from Marseille to Melbourne. And while they each have their place, nothing comes close to that magical night in Cupertino.

Greg Hahn, Class of 2021

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“Love is patient, Love is kind…”

We hear this familiar passage so often at weddings, but until I met Seiko, I didn’t know what ‘love being patient’ really meant. After our second date in August 2016 I told Seiko, “I’m going to sea for a few months, but I’ll be back soon.” She didn’t understand that as a Navy man my life was packing my bag, boarding the ship, and leaving. I couldn’t tell her where I was going or when I would get there. Without prompting she said, “I will wait.”

Seiko waited through three different carrier patrols totaling nine months of sea time, but for me the hardest waiting would come after I left the Navy. Four days after our wedding, I left Japan to move to HBS. Although Seiko’s visa application was submitted several months earlier, we couldn’t say when we would see each other next.

We did our best to stay close, but we could feel the stress of school, work, moving, and a 14-hour time difference weighing down on us. In the waiting, love was a choice we both made every day. We chose to be patient with one another, kind to one another, and to trust each other and the depth of our relationship despite the uncertainty we felt.

When Seiko finally arrived in Boston, I brought her to section Friendsgiving. We had waited for so long to be together. As she walked in everyone shouted “Welcome Home!”

We knew our waiting was over.

Justin Crist Lee, Class of 2021

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For me, love happened when I least expected it — when I stopped looking and really felt like I had nothing to lose. Ben and I met on the night of my going away party, before one of the many times I left New York City (only to return again).

Ben is a bright light in my life. Together we have our own world. But sometimes it feels like the outside world keeps pulling us in different directions. We’ve chased each other across the country, and the majority of our relationship has been long distance.

But the times we share together cement our inseparable bond.

When I met Ben, I didn’t find my other half. I found a full whole person who made me feel like a fuller whole-r person myself.

By habit and necessity, each time we part, we begin counting down the days until we will meet again. He is my home. And the more we fall in love, the more time away feels like time wasted.

Thank you for your love and everything you’ve taught me. I can’t wait to continue to build our life together.

Alice Liu, Class of 2021

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What is home?

Kai and I bought our first home in New York in summer 2017, after being together for 5 years and having moved many cities. We love our home. We love that it made us feel rooted, at least somewhere.

Within one year of moving in, we welcomed our first child, and our home became this beautiful place where we grew a bustling life: Leaving home to go to the hospital to give birth hoping we’d all come back safe and sound; feeling so helpless with a crying baby in the dazzling nightlights of NYC; celebrating milestones in our careers; and finding out that we would be going to different business schools.

After we moved out of our New York home, I started school at HBS with our daughter Mia, and Kai at Wharton. We no longer have the luxury of seeing each other every day, and to make up for that, Kai travels up every single week. I do miss our New York home for how easy it was to love each other. But we don’t regret leaving – our love as a family grows stronger each day.

Home doesn’t have to be a fancy space. It can be mental space that houses all the memories. It can be a child that reminds us of what we look like and who we are. It can be a source of power to make us stronger and better human beings.

Home is where the heart is.

Kanako & Kaz Sakai, Class of 2021

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Our love evolved at a very high speed. We joined the same 5-week project, Kaz as a manager and I as an analyst. After 3 weeks from our first meeting, we started to go out. After 3 weeks from our first date, we got engaged.

For the past 5 years of our marriage, we experienced a lot, including having our beloved son, Ren, and both of us joining HBS, and we learned a few things.

1. Love is something that makes you want to do anything for your beloved one.

As parents, we both strongly hope that Ren will not suffer from unnecessary obstacles (such as language barriers) and we are committed to give him all the support needed.

2. Love is something that makes you happy, strong, sad, angry, tired, ... and happy.

Seeing Ren develop everyday was full of happiness. But there were also sleepless nights and irritating moments. I learned love is not just about happiness. But in the end, I still feel love brings full of happiness and has enriched my life more than anything.

3. Love is something that brings you to the world which you could not have reached if you were alone.

When we started to consider doing an MBA, I was reluctant because I wasn’t sure if I could handle both studying and raising Ren. But, as Kaz deeply thought about my life and encouraged me to continue to pursue my career, I was able to come here at HBS.

Kamal, Class of 2021, & Ashley Wheeler

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Ashley and I met during our freshman year at West Point. We were both simultaneously adjusting to military and college life, and our relationship developed because we both needed each other to cope with the stresses of leaving home. Ashley helped me escape the everyday grind of West Point by offering a shoulder to lean on and a listening ear – usually over dinner. Through our daily dinners, we built a strong relationship and I considered her my best friend.

From freshman to junior year, Ashley and I committed to being just friends, but something changed during our senior year. She studied a semester abroad in Brazil while I stayed back at West Point. Going through a semester without each other clarified just how much we valued our relationship. When Ashley returned from Brazil, I knew things would be different. The distance drew us closer together, and we decided to start dating for the remainder of our senior year.

Looking back, we have spent nearly ten years together, traveled around the world, and lived in four different states. We got married in 2013 and just welcomed twins in December 2019. It’s amazing how much has changed in our lives, but our friendship has endured the test of time and distance. Who would've known that those dinners and conversations together would develop into so much!