Apparently, a good bit.
Around Valentine's Day, we delight in the stories we've heard about couples who met, fell in love and made a lifetime commitment while they were students at Gillings School of Global Public Health. To all our other areas of global expertise - in air, water, infectious disease, maternal and child health, cancer prevention, nutrition and obesity, and so many others - we now add matchmaker.
We'll feature a few of our favorites here. Let us know if you have a love story to add.
Divine intervention, she calls it
Steven C. Wayling (MSPH , 1987)
Aimee McHale Wayling, JD (MSPH, 2009)
Married Oct. 28, 2008
Officiant: Jeffrey Simms, MSPH, MDiv, director of professional development and alumni relations,
Department of Health Policy and Management
Among School-affiliated guests at the Waylings' wedding were (front row, left to right) Steven and Aimee McHale Wayling, Aimee's daughter Caroline, Jeffrey Simms; (Second row) Cheri Poss, MSPH ('09), Rebecca Garr Whitaker, MSPH ('09), Elizabeth Walker Kasper, MSPH ('09), Drs. Morris Weinberger and Andrea Biddle, Cathy Padgett; (Third row) Wayne Psek and Greg Boyer (HPM doctoral candidates), Drs. John Paul and William Zelman.
spring 2008, Aimee McHale was in a panic. A master's student in health
policy and management, Aimee had just learned that her summer internship
had fallen through, and she was scrambling to find another.
Cathy Padgett, career services coordinator for Aimee's department,
gave a quick call to 1987 alumnus Steven Wayling, who worked with the
World Health Organization in Geneva.
Sure, Steven said, after learning she had a law degree and
excellent qualifications - it might be that she could help a supervisor
in his own division who was eager to finish some priority projects.
"Steven offered me the job in our first conversation," Aimee said,
"and just a month later, my daughter Caroline and I were moving to
Geneva for the summer. Professionally, it was an extraordinary
opportunity - but it was even better on a personal level. Divine
intervention caused that other internship to disappear. Somebody was
saying loud and clear, 'Here's where you need to be this summer.'"
"In all my years of working in career services," Padgett said, "I
had never had a student 'date' his or her preceptor. Aimee had heard my
'Don't get attracted to people at work' lecture, and that's why, even
though she didn't report to Steven, she wouldn't mention her attraction
until the internship was finished. The joke after that was that I was
not only running the intern program but also a dating service on the
side! I didn't set out to match Aimee up with a husband, but as it
turned out, I can't imagine the two of them not being together."
Love means never having to grow up
Katie O'Brien (MSPH, 2010)
Alex Keil (MSPH, 2010)
Doctoral candidates (expected 2012/2013)
Married Oct. 2, 2010
Attending a Durham Bulls baseball game the first week of school are (left to right): epidemiology friends Jonathan Todd, Pam Klein, Alex Keil, Katie O'Brien and Cassidy Henegar.
and Alex met during orientation to the MSPH/PhD program in epidemiology
in fall 2007. They were standing in line, waiting for Nancy Colvin, the
department's student services manager, to take their "mugshots."
Neither of them was looking to date someone from the same graduate
school program, since that could only complicate things.
But thanks to a couple of student happy hours and a particularly
engaging game of darts, the vow was pushed to the wayside. They began
dating about a week after classes started. "It seemed like a good idea
at the time," Katie said, "and we have yet to find any evidence that it
was not a good idea."
"We followed our nerdy trend," she said, and became engaged right after a
Society of Epidemiologic Research meeting in California. "How could
you not be put into a romantic mood by seminars on marginal structural
models ?" Alex asks.
They married in an old cotton mill and spent their honeymoon examining skeletons from human sacrifices at old Mayan ruins.
"Neither of us has a clue what we want to be when we grow up," Katie said. "We probably never will."
Love is in the air ... or is it in the water?
Leah Teuber Flowers (MPH, environmental sciences and engineering, 2008)
Riley Flowers (doctorate in environmental sciences and engineering expected 2012)
Married April 24, 2010
Riley and Leah met in March 2007 at the open house for prospective
environmental sciences and engineering students. He had flown out of a
blizzard in Chicago for his first trip to the South, and the 70-degree
weather almost sold him on UNC before he arrived on campus.
Attending the wedding reception were (left to right) Jen Chu (MS, ESE, 2009), newlyweds Riley and Leah, Bonnie Lyon (doctoral student, ESE), Pat Marion, Alex Valencia (MS, ESE, 2008) and Ryan Kingsbury (MS, ESE, 2010).
In their first introductory seminar, Leah walked up and introduced
herself to Riley. "The rest of the morning was set aside for break-out
sessions and other seminars," he said, "but I missed them all, because I
was out enjoying the beautiful weather, walking around campus with my
future wife (although I never would've thought that at the time)."
That fall, they were pleasantly surprised to learn that they both had
decided to come to UNC and were going to be working in the same lab. In
fact, they were Dr. Phil Singer's only new students that year. They took
classes together, went to group meetings, participated in school
functions, and got to know each other better when they drove together to
attend a water conference.
In December 2008, Leah defended her thesis and moved back to Alabama,
and they told each other goodbye for what they thought might be forever.
But only two weeks after she left, Riley said, "I drove down and convinced her to come back."
By March 2009, Leah had taken a job in Raleigh, N.C., as a wastewater
engineer at a consulting firm. The two were engaged in September and
married in April. The child they are expecting is due to arrive on their
Two heads are better than one
Jennifer (Baham) Wheeler
Third-year epidemiology doctoral students
Married Aug. 7, 2010
The Wheelers' wedding portrait
Brad-and-Jenni story began on the first day of orientation at UNC in
2008, when an icebreaker session brought them together. Throughout the
semester, they were friendly and would chat and sit next to each other
in class. In spring 2009, they worked as lab partners. They agreed that
the first year in EPI was challenging but rewarding.
They didn't know how "rewarding" school could be until the following summer, when they began to date "officially."
Two years, ten shared classes and double doctoral qualifying exams after
their first date at a baseball game, they were married. Their
half-anniversary falls the week before Valentine's Day, so February
brings a lot to celebrate.
"Life as a married couple at UNC has been fun," Brad says, "but not
without its challenges. Coordinating two busy student schedules requires
significant flexibility. But it helps to have another epidemiology
student close by when we have questions - and living in a household with
two graduate stipends makes life a little easier to balance!"
Learn more about Brad's and Jenny's courtship on their wedding site, www.bradandjenni.com
North Carolina is my home
Annah Layman Wyss
The Wysses on their wedding day, with grandparents
(third-year epidemiology doctoral student)
(second-year epidemiology doctoral student)
Married Dec. 28, 2010
From Farmington, Utah (Richie's hometown), to Spokane, Wash. (Annah's),
to Provo, Utah (where they both received bachelor's and master's degrees
at Brigham Young), Cupid followed this couple around, holding off on
archery practice until they had made their home in North Carolina.
Richie is interested in pharmacoepidemiology and epidemiological methods, and Anna is studying cancer epidemiology.
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