Hundreds have met their match at Swarthmore — it’s called the ‘Quaker Matchbox’ for a reason. So this Valentine’s Day, we asked for heartwarming stories of the alumni who met their special someone because of Swarthmore. And our Matchbox Couples did not disappoint. Alumni who hail from near and far shared their first encounters, with some even recalling the unique experience of crossing paths during the annual Pterodactyl Hunt.
Click on the pictures below and read more about how our alumni first met their significant others, as told in their own words. Happy Valentine’s Day!
The Matchbox Couple stories featured here were self-submitted to the Communications Office following social media solicitations in both 2023 and 2024. If you would like to submit your Matchbox Couple story for a future post, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matchbox Couples 2024
Xavier Serrano ’23 and Katherine Carlson ’23
"Katie and I met on the first day of freshmen orientation in the Scott Amphitheater, where we told each other our life stories as part of an orientation activity. When Jim Bock gave an address to our class during that orientation, he said that given Swarthmore's match-making reputation we may very well be sitting next to our life partner at that moment, which of course, we were. We began dating shortly thereafter (during orientation!) and have been going strong ever since. Over four years later, we've graduated from Swarthmore and we're living in Boston with our cat Cookie. Katie is pursuing a Master of Library and Information Science at Simmons University, and I am working as a research programmer at Boston University."
Ben Hamilton ’03 and Alicia Muñoz ’03
"We met during orientation week, and although all our new friends immediately saw the chemistry between us, Ben was the last one to realize he had a shot. Our first night out together involved a Paces party and watching The Princess Bride in Willets, and our first kiss was the night before classes started, after the traditional screening of The Graduate. We were together throughout Swarthmore and married a year after graduation. Now we live in Minnesota, where Alicia is a professor at Macalester College, Ben runs the STEM tutoring center at Metro State University, and we raise our three kids Vicente (8), Araceli (5) and Mireya (5)."
Cheryl Warfield ’71 and Donald Earl Mitchell ’69
"We met at my freshman mixer when Don, a big upperclassman, was cruising for chicks. The dance was in Sharples Dining Hall. He noticed my homemade pink dress with a green belt and asked me to dance. I invited him to climb on the roof of Sharples to get acquainted. He was hesitant, but did it! Today, we, our children, and our grandchildren all live in adjoining houses on our farm in Vermont. He has continued to write and I have continued to do social justice work.
We still hang out with other Matchbox Couples from Swarthmore: the Putnams and the Wolfsons especially. The photo includes our daughter-in-law Susannah, also a Swarthmore alum. We are so grateful to Swarthmore for bringing us together."
Fran Altvater ’91 and Ed Bernstein ’91
"We met at a mugging -- freshman orientation week when the Alumni Office gave out mugs to students. Best friends while at Swat, we married in 1999 and are still together. When we married on campus in 1999, we stopped in to see if we could get a replacement for one mug, broken in our moves across the country after college and then for grad school. The Alumni Office obliged and we still have our two mugs!"
Frank ’68 and Vera Brown ’70
"We met at Sharples Dining Hall at a late dinner after one of Frank's seminars. We started dating the next day, and over the next few months we discovered that we were soulmates. Thirteen months later we got engaged in the library (during a study break) in what is now the Color Room. Now, more than 55 years later, Swarthmore continues to be near and dear to us because it was the beginning of 'us' as a couple. Also, Swarthmore reinforced our social values of kindness, cooperation, fairness, and peace, which have served us well over the years, and which we have maintained to this day.
Swarthmore contributed to our continuing fitness by reintroducing us to bicycling more than 30 years ago, and which we continue to enjoy together. We get so much enjoyment from attending Swarthmore alumni and Athletics events and interacting with other members of the Swarthmore family. When we attend those events at Swarthmore, we are rejuvenated and feel like we are coming home -- so much so that we now have a home near campus."
Nathan ’16 and Zoe Scalise ’17
"Zoe and I met through Swarthmore Christian Fellowship and I joined wind ensemble to have an excuse to spend more time around her. Zoe played horn, I played trombone, and Andrew Hauze (who was later the organist at our wedding) kept arranging the horns and trombones so that we were next to each other. By the end of that semester (Spring 2015), we were dating. We got married in 2017 at the Swarthmore Presbyterian Church, where we’d both volunteered with the youth group, and had our reception at what was then the brand new Inn at Swarthmore. We now live in Cheshire, Conn. Zoe is a software engineer, I recently completed my DMA in composition at the Hartt School and do various musical jobs, and we’re both very busy with our 9-month-old son, Caleb.
"Fun fact: When I went back to visit Zoe after I graduated, we would often play duets together. So, I proposed by arranging 'Here Comes the Bride' so that she’d start on her own and I could drop to one knee with the ring. This also means that we are – to my knowledge – the only people ever to have gotten engaged in a practice room at Swarthmore."
Delvin Dinkins ’93 and Davirah Timm ’93
"Davirah and I met just outside of Sharples (beside the huge oak that stood there), the day before freshmen orientation. We hit it off immediately, becoming best friends by sophomore year. We'd study together, go for walks in the Crum, watch TV, and eat gobs of Ben & Jerry's that we picked up from the local Wawa. We'd graduate in the spring and reconnected that fall while getting our master's... 550 miles apart. I proposed a couple of days after Valentine's Day 1994. Some 30 years later we are loving life, two adult children in the mix."
Megan O’Connor ’99 and Jake Travers ’98
"We were both participating in the Psi Phi Pterodactyl Hunt. He was a hunter, I was a pterodactyl. He hunted me down and it was fireworks from there. We thank Swarthmore for everything!"
Naomi ’91 and Brian Zikmund-Fisher ’91
"Brian and I met when we lived on the same hall -- Hallowell Third -- our sophomore year. He was an 'escort' at the library and I used to pretend to need to go so I could get him to walk me home. We've been married 31 years, two great kids."
Nancy Noble ’72 and Jim Holland ’71
"We met on my 18th birthday, the day before classes started my freshman year. Jim's brother Randy was dating my roommate Ilona Szucs and they introduced us. By Christmas of that year, we were committed to each other. We have now been married for 50 years and are both retired from teaching English (Jim) and music (me). I still conduct a community chorus in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., and Jim skis a lot on Mammoth Mountain. We both enjoy word puzzles (a tradition started at Swarthmore where we did TheNY Times crossword together). We have many fond memories of walking through the Crum and going to concerts and movies at Swarthmore."
Raven Bennett ’17 and Derek Graves ’18
"We met in the Swarthmore improv comedy group Vertigo-go. Our first meal together was dinner in the foyer of Sharples. Our first kiss was on the fire escape outside the window of my dorm room in Woolman. Over nine years later we are married, live near Dartmouth College where I attend medical school and Derek works remotely as the director of STEM education for The Grayson School, and have a Matchbox daughter together named Vivian."
Lana Everett ’74 and Joseph Turner ’73
"I had seen Joe around, but he was dating another girl in Parish Hall. His best friend started dating one of my best friends, the other girl dropped Joe, and I double-dated with Joe and the other couple. While I had decided that I was 'over' Swarthmore men and would blaze my own trail, chemistry took over and Joe and I quickly fell in love. We're celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary this year! We enjoy an active life in Steamboat Springs, Colo."
Christopher ’93 and Maeghan Maloney ’93
"We met in McCabe and talked for three hours about the Supreme Court. When we left, we put on matching blue ponchos. Our first date was a Jungle Book singalong followed by Vertigo-go and a Pro-Choice Task Force party. Today we're both trying to create equity in Maine's juvenile justice system. Our oldest, Atticus, just graduated last year. Our younger son, Colin, is waiting to hear about acceptance."
Laura Post ’09 and Fletcher Coleman ’09
"Fletcher and Laura met on the first day of Chinese class sophomore year. All students were tasked with making basic introductions at the start of class. Fletcher said he was from Ohio. Laura asked, "Where?" Fletcher replied that it was a small town that nobody would ever have heard of, but Laura was a transfer student from Kenyon College, smack dab in the exact same middle of nowhere. Several study abroad trips and years of friendship later, we started dating fall of senior year. We have been together for 15 years and been married for eight. We are both professors (art and art history) and have a beautiful, hilarious, almost-2-year-old!"
Eric ’97 and Kate Dempsey Walton ’95
"I noticed Kate as a late addition to the indoor track team just prior to the conference championships in November '93. She was rejoining the team after finishing the varsity basketball season and I was taking up shot put after literally breaking my skull in my first-ever rugby practice earlier in the fall. We started talking during the track team's spring trip to Florida and began dating shortly thereafter. We got engaged in the summer of '95 after she graduated and began her master's in biology at Rutgers. We were married two weeks after I graduated in June of '97. We adopted our daughter, Laura, in 2005, live outside Ann Arbor, Mich. We celebrated 25 years in 2022 by getting matching tattoos we designed together."
Samantha Bennett ’13 and Rory McTear ’13
"Rory and I first met in Willets at a party during orientation week before our freshman year officially began! We grew up only 15 minutes away from each other and played softball/baseball at Swarthmore, so perhaps it was meant to be :) We’ve now been together for 14 years, married for two years, and have a 3-month-old baby named Poppy."
Lin Gyi ’09 and Eric Loui ’09
"We met during freshman orientation, and I made a terrible first impression. We luckily had a second chance to make an impression on each other in junior year for Screw Your Roommate. Eric works in cybersecurity, and I work as a child and adolescent psychiatrist. We have been together for 16 years, married for nearly seven years, and we welcomed our baby boy, Felix, last March."
Pat Myers Westine ’61 & Peter Sven Westine ’62
"We met several days before his freshman week started in September ’58. (The Athletics Department was holding pre-season hockey and soccer camps.) We dated and got pinned in May ’59, engaged one week before I graduated in June ’61, and married 2 months after he graduated in June ’62. Two children and five grandchildren later, our granddaughter graduated from the College in ’20, an engineer like her grandfather, with a computer science degree too! We were married 46 years until Peter's death in 2008 and I moved to Ashby Ponds, a continuing care retirement community in Ashburn, Virginia."
Bob Mueller ’68 & Martha Spanninger ’76
Bob Mueller, class of ’68 (graduated ’73) and Martha Spanninger ’76 met at the 2006 Swarthmore reunion. They were introduced by Marty’s freshman year roommate Nancy Levantrosser Anderson ’76. (Their kids went to school together at Germantown Friends.) They danced that first night away to The Narwhals with Swarthmore friends they had in common, who assumed they had known each other for years! He lived in Philly. She in NYC. Their courtship was advanced by Amtrak, taking Swarthmore “lifelong learning classes” in NYC with Phil Weinstein, Tom Bradley, and Hansjakob Werlen.
They married in June 2008 in the Theresa Lang Fragrance Garden. That night they would dance all night again to the Narwhals — this time with friends and family from near and far! They continue to take LLL classes and every year and they are part of a group (including Nancy, their cupid) who host a weekend seminar on Martha’s Vineyard with Phil Weinstein.
Jodie Landes Corngold ’80 & Eric Corngold ’80
I came to Swarthmore as a junior from Pomona College doing a one-semester exchange. On my first day, I met Eric in Willets (where we were both living) and quickly segued from exchange student to transfer student. Eric and I graduated in 1980. Eight years later we got married, surrounded by the people who had been my best friends at Swarthmore and are my best friends still today."
Margaret Gillespie ’82 & Jason Greenberg ’82
"We are a class of 1982 Matchbox couple. Last summer, we returned to campus for our 40th reunion and also celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. We like to think of ourselves as the good that comes out of Willets. We met at the very start of orientation our first year both living on Willets 3 South. Four years later, we were married just down College Avenue at Trinity Episcopal Church by the Rev. P. Linwood Urban, aka Dr. Urban, Department of Religion. We had both taken his classes and Margaret was a religion major. In our senior year, much time was spent side by side at a table in the biology library in Martin. Jason was a biology major, and that year the religion department was housed in Martin. More than just an excellent education."
Laura & David Gehrenbeck ’91
"I was a sweet summer child in October of freshman year (1987). With very wet hair and waning energy after evening swim practice, I had dragged myself up the hill from Ware Pool to Sharples. My roommate — the magical and radiant Mikala Woodward ’91 — introduced me to her friend as he was leaving the dining hall and I was trying to lift my fork. I thought, “Oh my goodness… he looks like someone I could really snuggle with.” Apparently he thought, “She has really poor posture.” Well, impression made.
One chance meeting at the Old Club, one Monty Python Film Festival, and one epic night of dancing at the fall formal later, our fate together had been sealed. He spent his junior year in Moscow. I spent a junior semester in Grenoble. We married a month after he returned to become that weird married couple during our senior year. Thirty-two years of wedded delight, many jobs, three kids, two dogs, seven countries, and one terrible separation (ongoing) due to war in Ukraine and we still burn like freshly struck matches.
Thank you, Quaker Matchbox for making me eat my words.
(Special acknowledgment to Cygus Vanni for excellence in roommate-matching.)"
Dave Gertler ’83 & Sue Kost ’83
"As a freshman, I got to know Roxanne Fisher ’82 through some mutual friends. She invited me to visit her at home during winter break of the following year. In central Pennsylvania, where Roxanne lived, the big winter event is the Pennsylvania Farm Show. So we went to see the tractors and butter sculptures and livestock. (Rox especially loved pigs.)
In one hallway of the massive Farm Show complex, a young woman was staffing a hamburger stand. Seeing her, Rox asked me, “Oh, do you know Sue Kost? She goes to Swarthmore too.” I didn’t, so Rox introduced us.
When the next semester started, there was a familiar-looking student in my German class: Sue from the Farm Show. Professor Faber assigned the students to pair up and write an essay in German. Sue and I decided to co-write a Farm Show essay. Working together, we became friends.
Fast forward six years. Living in West Philly that summer, I decided to drop by Alumni Weekend even though it wasn’t a reunion year for our class. I ran into Sue on Tarble Lawn. It turned out that she was also living in West Philly, where she had just graduated from Penn Medical School and was about to start a pediatric residency at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Thanks to our geographic nearness, it was easy to start hanging out together, which turned into dating.
This string of coincidences — meeting each other hours from campus at the Farm Show, being in the same German class right after that, both of us visiting campus in a non-reunion year while living in West Philly — felt like fate. And fate led us to marry in 1992 (in the Amphitheatre, where my parents — another Quaker Matchbox couple — got married in 1958). Our thirty years of marriage, and our three terrific kids, are products of the Matchbox and of Rox’s gift for bringing people together.
(Sadly, Roxanne Fisher passed in 2008, but her legacy endures in many ways, including a tree dedicated to her along Magill Walk near the train station.)"
Julie Felice Marcus ’89 & Stephen Schwartz ’84
"The fall of 2017, I’m playing tennis with a woman I had only just met on the court. She’s quite good, so during a break between games, I ask about her tennis story. She says, “I played college tennis at a small school outside of Philadelphia.” My ears immediately perk up at that reference. So I say, “Funny, because I attended a small school outside of Philadelphia too! You don’t happen to be a Swattie?” The rest is history. We missed meeting each other at Swat by one year. But cosmic karma prevailed in the end."
Patrick Hart ’06 & Scott Storm ’08
"We actually met because, yes, we were set up at Screw Your Roommate! It was February of 2006 — Scott was a sophomore and I was a senior. I had been set up with someone else but he dropped out at the last minute, and my friends scrambled to find a match. For Screw, we dressed up as Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, and eventually found each other in the chaos of Sharples that evening.
Scott and I hadn't met before, but he had seen me trying to get Swatties to volunteer for Democratic candidates in Parrish Parlors, and hence tried to avoid me. : ) His first thought when we met was, "Huh, it's that guy." But we had a lovely burrito bar dinner in Sharples and a lovely time at the dance that night, and pretty soon, we were officially boyfriends.
We had a really fun spring that year, doing dates at "fancy" local restaurants like Peace a Pizza and Bertucci's, taking in local cultural attractions like the Philly Art Museum and the Barnes Foundation, and doing an epic walk through Philly culminating at Penn's Landing. But as the school year came to an end, we always knew our relationship had an expiration date, since I was graduating and heading home to Boston and Scott was staying in Pennsylvania for the summer, and then of course had two more years at Swat. So we sadly had to say our goodbyes...
But we remained friends for years, and then in 2010, I came to visit Scott in Media, where he was then living, and our relationship started to rekindle. We got back together, were married in Boston in 2015 (with our wedding co-officiated by Kenan Jaffe ’06 and Katie Santohigashi ’08 and our wedding parties being full of Swatties), and now live in NYC. I work at the City University of New York and help support nonprofit organizations, and Scott teaches English at an NYC public school and is completing his PhD in education at NYU. Swat played a huge role in getting us together, and we're so happy to still have so many Swatties in our lives today!"
Nida Atshan Osei ’13 & Kwame Osei ’11
"My husband and I met at Swat in 2009. We were a Screw Your Roommate setup one year later. We have been together since and married for 6 years. We have a 4-year old son, Malik, and a 2-year old daughter, Maysa. Kwame proposed at the amphitheater in 2016 when we were visiting campus. Swarthmore holds a very special place in our hearts."
Jon Saltzman ’17 & Becca Mayeda ’17
"Becca and Jon met during Dana Hall freshman orientation in fall 2013. They initially bonded over long study dates in McCabe, and by freshman spring, their study dates had migrated to Kohlberg classrooms. Swarthmore helped them grow as individuals and as a couple, and by the time they were seniors they had a double together in Wharton. After graduating they moved to Philly, where Jon started a soccer team named after Cunningham Field, and Becca started medical school. At their wedding in Kauai, over 20% of the guests were Swatties (including Jon’s mom, Audrey Newell ’75). They are currently living their happily ever after in the Philly area."
Bryce Bussert ’23 & Anna Bussert ’23
"We met on a bus on the way back from a tutoring orientation, where Anna was a little confused why Bryce kept talking to her. We then became friends and gained appreciation and respect for each other through the Swarthmore Christian Fellowship — and through mutual friend/legendary Swattie Daniel Swanson ’21. Over COVID, we wrote letters back and forth, Anna's written on fancy stationery and Bryce's on such items as a Teddy Grahams box and a Georgia wetlands map. We fell in love and started dating in September 2020, learned Greek together for a year and a half under Prof. Kyle Mahoney, and got married in June 2022 (the summer before our senior year)! We've been loving both marriage and college as we enter our last semester at Swarthmore, together."
Sharon Roseman Buckingham ’81 & Stephen Buckingham ’84
"Stephen was "the old guy" when he arrived as part of the Class of 1983, having done construction work for five years after high school. I worked in the post office in the fall of 1979 when he came to the window, gave me 13 pennies, and asked for a 13-cent stamp. I told him that if he gave me 13 pennies, I had to give him 13 one-cent stamps. He gave me a strange look (as was appropriate), I gave him one 13-cent stamp, and it took me almost two more years to be introduced to him, on Parrish Lawn, in the spring of 1981, shortly before my graduation. We very quickly knew that we were supposed to be partners. Almost 42 years later, we are still partners, and he actually IS an old guy."
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