Wedding Bells Class of 2017

Gregory M. Hewett ’17 and Jenni L. Pfeiffer

Gregory M. Hewett ’17 and Jenni L. Pfeiffer, a student at the Graduate School of Education, have been together for more than seven years, but it once seemed like their relationship might never get off the ground.

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In high school, a mutual friend invited Hewett and Pfeiffer over for a game of pickup football. The two teenagers ran up for a pass at the same time, crashed into each other, and tumbled onto the grass.

A few weeks later, Hewett and Pfeiffer went on their first date: a Zac Brown Band concert, followed by ice cream. More dates followed, and by the end of high school, they were discussing marriage.

Hewett and Pfeiffer met in the fifth grade at Preston Smith Elementary School in Lubbock, Texas. He was the “cool guy,” an athlete who played football and baseball. She was the mysterious new girl whose family had just moved from Colorado.

Hewett had a crush on Pfeiffer, but they hung out with different friend groups. He saw his opening the summer after freshman year, when she broke up with her boyfriend. After their first date, they began seeing each other constantly. They both loved listening to music, and she taught him to dance; they played endless games of frisbee. She went to his football and baseball games, and he watched her play volleyball. They were crowned king and queen of their senior prom, and named “high school sweethearts” in their yearbook.

One day, while driving home after dropping Pfeiffer off at her house, Hewett realized that he might want to marry her someday. She felt the same way. Though he would go to Harvard and she would attend the University of Texas at Austin, they decided to give it a try long-distance.

“My first year at Harvard was tough,” Hewett remembers. “I was missing Jenni a lot. It was hard to find my place in social groups and things.”

But the distance gave Hewett and Pfeiffer a chance to get to know themselves, and each other. On late-night phone calls, they each learned how the other confronted new challenges and stresses. Hewett, a joint concentrator in computer science and electrical engineering, found his home in the Harvard College Engineering Society and on Dunster House’s intramural football and rowing teams. Pfeiffer studied applied learning and development at UT Austin’s College of Education, and worked as a student-teacher.

Pfeiffer traveled to Boston a few times a semester, or Hewett traveled to Austin. In Austin, they kayaked on Lady Bird Lake and ate pizza at Home Slice. In Boston, they strolled through the Common and visited the Museum of Fine Arts.

“Whenever we were together, we never took the time for granted,” Pfeiffer says. “Every moment we had to be together was so special.”

Last February, Pfeiffer and Hewett had planned to spend the weekend of Valentine’s Day together in Austin. But when the date neared, Hewett began sending Pfeiffer short notes containing puzzling clues. First, he said, he wouldn’t be visiting Austin, after all; then, he told her that they’d be going somewhere else, and she might want to pack clothes for warm weather. When Hewett arrived at the airport in Austin, he presented Pfeiffer with two tickets to Florida.

The couple traveled to the Florida Keys, where Hewett’s cousin lives. One night, Hewett took Pfeiffer to a private resort, where the couple boarded a boat and sailed to a beachside hut. They sat a table strewn with rose petals, and an “island photographer” asked if he could snap their picture.

Pfeiffer had a sense of what was coming.

“I’m kind of a penny pincher, so she knew this was it,” Hewett jokes.

Hewett had prepared a speech, but when he got down one knee, his mind went blank. He told her, hands shaking, that he wanted to spend his life with her. She screamed, and said yes.

Pfeiffer soon received more good news. She had been accepted to Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, where, because she had graduated a year early, she would start the following year. In the fall, Pfeiffer moved into an apartment only three minutes away from Dunster House. Now that the couple lives in the same city, they don’t make it to museums as often, but they find that simple activities—like studying together or going out for drinks—feel just as special.

After they graduate, Hewett and Pfeiffer will travel to Dripping Springs, Texas, for the wedding. They’ll honeymoon in Saint Lucia before moving to Seattle, where Hewett will work for Microsoft and Pfeiffer will look for a job as a teacher.

When she sees her elementary school students, especially the fifth-graders, tease and flirt with each other, Pfeiffer can’t help but wonder what the future might hold for them. “I’m like, oh my gosh,” she says. “This was us!”

—Staff writer Maia R. Silber can be reached at maia.silber@thecrimson.com.

Rachael C. Stein ’17 and Bridget L. Curzi

Rachael C. Stein ’17 and Bridget L. Curzi have shared a lot of fun dates, from driving up to Portland, Maine to playing arcade games on an island off the coast of southern California. But their most memorable, according to the two, occurred at the Boston Dragon Boat Festival last June.

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Curzi and Stein had been looking for a dog to adopt for several weeks—their dates, at that point, mostly consisted of visiting pounds. At the festival, they saw a “very cute” dog across the crowd, and decided to approach the dog’s family. It turned out that the dog was up for adoption. “So literally that day we decided to get a dog, and life changed forever,” Stein says.

Indeed, the dog catalyzed Stein and Curzi’s decision to move in together for Stein’s senior year (“I don’t think you can keep dogs in dorms,” Curzi jokes). The two had been dating since 2014, and now live in an apartment in the West End, near Mass General Hospital.

Stein, a sociology concentrator, and Curzi, who manages a co-working space, met online nearly three years ago. Their first date was at Miracle of Science, a “very cute little bar” near MIT, according to Stein. A few months after they started dating, Curzi moved to Los Angeles for six months, during which time Stein visited regularly.

That the two are “polar opposites” makes for a balanced relationship, according to Curzi. Where Curzi is “free-spirited and ‘go-with-the-flow,’” Stein is “logistically sound and slightly more regimented.” Curzi says that Stein is “thoughtful and fun-filled…she plans things so, so well.”

But Curzi plans things well, too—namely her marriage proposal to Stein. Curzi popped the question just this past spring break, when the couple was on vacation in Puerto Rico with Curzi’s sister and her boyfriend. Curzi organized a kayak trip in a bioluminescent bay at night. “So we were paddling out, and with the bioluminescent bay, when you touch the water it lights up, so as soon as it to a point where it was really dark and the water was really lighting up every time you touched it, my code to my sister was, ‘Do you have the bug spray?’ So she was like, ‘Sure do,’ and she paddles over. They got there, iPhone ready, and I just turned around in the kayak and said, ‘Will you marry me?’”

“There was a light-up ring box and everything,” Stein adds. And, because it happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, “everyone was out that night, and it was a good time to celebrate.”

Stein and Curzi are planning on getting married in June 2019; they’ll be living in Boston for the next year, as Stein will be working at BCG. After that, who knows: The couple hopes to spend some time in New York City, and eventually move to the West Coast, because they’re tired of the cold.

Stein says she and Curzi share a group of tight-knit friends and family that Curzi “would literally do anything for.” It’s this dedication and “engagement in the world around her” that Stein so admires in her future spouse.

Mostly, the two anticipate many more memorable dates to come. “We try to have fun. Life’s too short not to go on little adventures,” Curzi says.

—Staff writer Lena K. Felton can be reached at lena.felton@thecrimson.com.

Ronald D. Laracuente ’17 and Lauren Klitz

How did you meet?: “We met in high school. We were both kind of band nerds. I played trumpet; she played flute. We spent a lot of time in marching band and practicing together. We became really good friends. Eventually we started dating.”

First thing he noticed: “She’s just super nice to everybody, a sweet compassionate person. She has such a warm presence. She is really well loved by her friends. That is just something that just radiates off her, just a genuinely sweet person.”

Your most memorable date?: “I was a senior in high school and she was ready to leave for college. We were both kind of bummed out and not sure what we wanted to do. So we just met at a cute restaurant in Coral Springs. It was kind of early so there was nobody there except for another table. And it was just a really good conversation and we concluded that we really liked each other and we had a strong friendship and a strong emotional connection. It was worth it to continue. So it was a really happy conclusion. And we were talking about this and the other table at the restaurant—it was this older couple—came over to us and they said ‘Oh you kind of remind us of us when we were younger.’ And we were like ‘Wow this was perfect timing and it was such a beautiful moment.’ And they were like ‘Can we buy you a bottle of wine or something?’ and I’m like ‘Hey, I’m 17’ but it was really cute. I think she would say the same.”

How did you propose?: “I kind of knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her around sophomore/junior year of college. There was one time when she visited for my birthday during my sophomore year of college. And I was like this is really great and I could see this going on forever. After that, I picked out a ring and I had a jeweler back at home and we made a custom ring. I was thinking maybe I should do it when we were both finished at school and maybe we should do it when we begin our new life together, because I am beginning medical school so we are moving in together after college. Basically, I got a little antsy because I had the ring and I was like I have to do this thing. So she visited me for a little longer than a week and the second day she was here, I planned this really nice date for us where we went to all of these spots around Cambridge and Boston where we have been to past times she visited. At the end of the day, I proposed to her by the aquarium and it was really nice.”

How would your friends describe the two of you as a couple?: “I think fun, cute, goofy. It is weird because we have known each other for so long. I knew her when she was just a kid and she knew me when I was 15. I was such a weirdo. We kind of take all that stuff and we have grown as individuals. I do not know if I would be the same person had I not dated her, because it is such a formative time. But, we have all of those memories of weird times in high school. It keeps us fun and young.”

—Staff writer Michael S. Avi-Yonah can be reached at michael.aviyonah@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Jill E. Steinman can be reached at jill.steinman@thecrimson.com.

Talia Weisberg ’17 and Evan B. Crane

Talia Weisberg ’17 and Evan B. Crane, a senior at MIT, noticed each other the first time they met at a Shabbat meal at a rabbi’s house in the fall of 2014. Though Crane had a girlfriend at the time, Weisberg stuck out to him at the meal.

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“I remembered thinking that Talia was very intelligent and cute and pretty cool,” Crane says.

At the meal, Weisberg was struck by Crane’s explanation of his personal “Jewish journey.”

“I thought it was really interesting, really sincere and authentic so I also noticed him,” says Weisberg, who concentrates in the comparative study of religion and lives in Lowell House.

The pair met again while helping to plan a series of events between the Jewish communities at their respective universities. But the meeting was not a coincidence.

“Unbeknownst to Talia, I kind of wanted to organize this event so I could spend more time with her because I remembered her being cool,” Crane, who had by then broken up with his previous girlfriend, says. “Throughout that weekend, I remembered trying to talk to Talia and trying to flirt with her and she was kind of avoiding me the whole time.”

Finally, after the event, with the help of a mutual friend Crane asked Weisberg on a date at J.P Licks, where the pair spent hours talking.

“He was falling asleep. I noticed him getting tired throughout the whole date,” Weisberg says. “But I didn’t want to say to him that he looked tired.”

Crane proposed in late September of 2016. The two had lunch in Harvard Square and then went to J.P. Licks, where they sat at the same table as they had on their first date.

“Talia had no idea that I was nervous. I was nervous as crazy. I was sweating,” Crane says. “When we were at lunch, I went to the bathroom because I was texting with her friend who was bringing the flowers and my friends were coming.”

Though the weather was overcast, Crane asked Weisberg to walk with him on Weeks Footbridge.

“We got approximately halfway and I put my arms down on the rail on the side and started looking out over Cambridge and she started to do the same,” Crane says. “Then I reached into my bag then I pulled out the ring and I opened the box.”

After Weisberg said yes, the two met with friends to take photos.

“On the way back from Weeks Footbridge, we saw a corgi. It was really exciting,” Weisberg says.

“And that’s how Talia knew it was fate,” Crane adds, laughing.

The wedding will take place on Aug. 20 in a traditional Jewish ceremony. The couple plans to stay in Boston, with Talia planning to work in government and Evan planning to work in biotechnology. They also anticipate going to J.P. Licks a few more times.

—Staff writer Kamara A. Swaby can be reached at kamara.swaby@thecrimson.com.

Corbin J. Miller ’17 and Brittany A. Barrett Miller

How did you two first meet and what were your first impressions?:

Corbin: We were set up on a blind date. So Brittany was serving a mission for the LDS church, and her mission president, the guy who was in charge of her mission, is good friends with my dad. [We went out] after she got home in the summer of 2015.

Brittany: My first impression of Corbin was that he was super easy to talk to, and I could automatically just be myself. We had a really good time. Our date was almost too short—I was hoping it would go longer. We went to dinner.

Corbin: My philosophy with the blind date was to keep it short because you never know how it’s going to turn out. If it’s good then I’ll ask her out again, and it was really good so I asked her out again.

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What was your most memorable date?:

B: In the summer we had been dating for a couple of months, and we took a tram up the ski resort Snowbird in Utah. Super pretty views, we were up on the top for a little bit taking pictures. It was just fun to talk the whole way up, and then afterwards we had a little picnic. They had a small concert outside, and it was really fun.

How did you propose?:

I proposed to her on the Weeks Bridge. There’s actually a video of it on Facebook. I got my teammates to help me out. We made signs that said “Marry me?” and we got coordinated with women’s crew coach Liz O’Leary to get two launched boats. So my teammates went on the launch boats after we had our team meeting down at the gym, and they took off and went past the Weeks Bridge. Brittany and I came along and walked on the bridge. They came by on the launch boats and yelled her name and had the signs up, and then she looked and I got down on one knee and proposed. Luckily she said yes.

B: That was on Sept. 24, 2015. We got married on May 21, 2016

Can you tell us a little bit about the wedding?:

B: We got married in the Bountiful Utah LDS temple. It was a kind of a rainy day in the morning, and as soon as we came out to take pictures and be outside it was all sunny and nice and perfect. We had a reception at a golf course in Bountiful. We had an ice cream bar, and dancing and all the traditional stuff. We did our honeymoon to Oahu, Hawaii.

C: There was a lot of family. We had a lot of friends make it out from Harvard, past teammates that came out as well. So it was a lot of fun.

What had the timeline of your marriage been?:

B: We moved back here in August.

C: We dated in Utah, she out and I proposed here and then we had a long distance engagement. And then we got married.

Any post grad plans?:

C: We’re headed back to Utah where I’ll be working on tech startup with my brothers and dad and Charles Zhang.

B: And we’re having a baby boy in September! That’s a big one too.

C: We’re open to suggestions [on names.]

And where do you see yourselves in five years?:

B: We’ll probably have a couple kids.

C: Yup. Definitely still happily married. Maybe grad school? We’ll see. Hopefully things are going well with the start up. I could be maybe in business school later down the line.

—Staff writer Celeste M. Mendoza can be reached at celetse.mendoza@thecrimson.com.

Joan H. Zhang ’17 and Eric A. Graves ’14

When Joan H. Zhang ’17 first met Eric A. Graves ’14, he was the music director of Under Construction, the Christian a capella group for which she was auditioning. An applied mathematics concentrator in Currier House, Graves was immediately impressed by her voice, which he describes as rich, smooth, and comforting. Zhang, now a psychology concentrator in Leverett House, initially found him serious. A tour to Taiwan showed her otherwise.

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There, Zhang saw a sillier side of Graves. Conversing with him felt like talking with an old friend; she decided she wanted to know him better. “Over time, we really opened up our shells a little bit, and our true colors meshed pretty well,” she says.

The two interacted together so well that they began dating the summer after he graduated. Graves started working in New York City with Frederic W. Cook and Co, where he currently remains, while Zhang continued her undergraduate studies at Harvard. Still they decided to give long distance and their budding romance a chance.

Though Zhang believes the distance allowed the two to establish their own identities and learn to treasure the rare moments they had together, she does not deny the drawbacks. “It takes a lot of trust between both of us to know that the other person still cares, even when you don’t have the face-to-face time,” she says.

Graves echoes her sentiments. “The distance is like a mixed blessing,” he says. “It’s a good test for the relationship.”

Such trials came in various forms. Zhang recounts an instance in which she debated between choosing a summer internship in New York or one in San Francisco, the latter of which she preferred. When she reached out to Graves for an opinion, he responded by asking her what she wanted. She explains that the moment helped her realize he was the one. “That’s continually been the way that he’s treated me,” she says. “Especially as a woman who wants to be very ambitious, it’s super important to have that partner who is willing to support you and willing to lift you up.”

“Something interesting about [our relationship], at least from my perspective, is that it has been something that’s grown stronger over time,” Graves adds. “The patience builds and the trust builds and the understanding builds.”

In fact, Zhang calls Graves one of her best friends, noting that her friends say the two are perfect for one another. “My blockmates have a verb called ‘Joan’ing out’ because sometimes I’ll just be sitting there and I’ll start daydreaming…. Both of us, in some ways, can go into our own little worlds and just be oblivious,” Zhang says as an example.

The couple also greatly value family, and they share a deep respect for each other. Zhang says that she appreciates Graves’s humility and honesty, while Graves describes Zhang’s ambition and purpose as an excellent model for others. “I’m constantly amazed at how capable she is and how she excels in everything she does,” he says. “Underlying all of that is a passion for a very meaningful topic, which is mental health and tackling mental health issues. It’s very admirable.”

Graves proposed to Zhang on Oct. 21. She had three requests—that the event occur with her family present, be captured on camera, and surprise her—and he successfully fulfilled each one. After an exhausting day at a computer science conference in her hometown Houston, Zhang came home to Graves’s proposal, while her parents overlooked and her brother filmed. “I had butterflies in my stomach. The proposal itself was kind of cheesy, but it was fun,” Graves says.

The couple hopes to hold their wedding in the fall of 2018, tentatively in Houston. Looking 10 years into the future, they see themselves returning to Atlanta, Graves’s hometown, where they can take care of his mentally disabled older brother and hopefully Zhang will have her own healthcare technology start-up.

When asked for three words to describe their relationship, Zhang offers a saying from the Bible: “Love is patient.” From a brief glance into the trust, joy, and selflessness that defines Graves and Zhang’s time together, the description is fitting.

—Staff writer Ha D.H. Le can be reached at ha.le@thecrimson.com.

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