From MBAs to Marriage: Michigan Ross Alums Share Their Love Stories
Students make plenty of connections at the Ross School of Business, from lifelong friends to impactful professors, alumni mentors, and more. Some lucky students even meet their significant other while pursuing a degree at Michigan Ross.
As a part of our annual Valentine’s Day tradition, we asked a handful of Ross alums to share their stories of finding love while attending business school. From group project meet-cutes to dates in the Ann Arbor winter snow, these alums detail some of the favorite memories they shared with their partners at Ross.
An alphabetical advantage
Deborah Fisher and Gary Culyer
In their very first week as MBA students, Debby and Gary noticed each other in their statistics lab — and continued to notice each other in all of their other classes, realizing that they were in the same course section together.
“It was not a coincidence, as course sections were assigned alphabetically, lumping last names A through F together. Lucky for us!” Debby said.
At a party hosted by a classmate whose last name also fell under the A through F category, Gary and Debby officially met for the first time. Gary asked Debby out on a date to see the movie Jaws, and Debby accepted — even though she already had a date that night and had already seen Jaws.
After that, the rest was history. Following a move to Boston, Massachusetts, after graduation, they each had rewarding careers in business – Gary as a community bank CFO, and Debby as a senior leader in higher education. The couple celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in 2020 and are now enjoying retirement, spending their time golfing throughout the United States and Europe. They’ve each hit two holes in one — so far!
The business of love
Donald and Murside Jean
Donald and Murside grew up eight miles apart in the suburbs of Detroit, and both attended the University of Michigan for their undergraduate degrees at the same time but never ran into each other until they were both earning their MBAs.
In the fall of 1988, Donald says he was solely focused on his MBA studies and job search — until he met another student in his section, Murside Turan, and everything changed. The two hit it off and started spending all of their time together, both in and outside of business school.
“We didn't have much money at the time, but both of us feel that our two years together in the Michigan Ross MBA Program was one of the best times of our lives,” Donald said.
The two graduated from Michigan Ross in 1990 and were married in 1994. This year will be their 30th wedding anniversary, and they have four children together, three of whom have earned Master of Management degrees from Ross.
“We obviously don't know what the record is for most Ross degrees in a family, but our total of five has to be at or near the top of the standings,” Donald said.
Two of hearts
Susan and Howard Pastroff
BBA ’62 and MBA ’62
Susan (née Ferber) and Howard Pastroff met by chance when Howard was invited to brunch by his cousin, who happened to know one of Susan’s sorority sisters. The two met at the bridge table in the sorority house and chatted about their classes, information that Susan made sure to remember.
“I ran into Howard a few times after that in the business school… possibly because I knew his schedule and knew where he would be!” Susan said.
The two began spending time together and formed a strong friendship that blossomed into love. Susan fondly recalls Howard helping her with her accounting homework at Drake’s over glasses of limeade and sweet rolls. During their days at Ross, they also played plenty of bridge together, a hobby they still share to this day.
After Susan’s career as an application software designer and implementor and Howard’s career in wholesale distribution, they recently settled in Lewes, Delaware. Susan and Howard celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2022 with a family trip to Scotland. They are the proud parents of four children, three of whom also went to U-M, and have seven grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
An unscripted Follies love story
Leena and Justin Williams
BBA ’02/MBA ’07 and MBA ’08
Leena and Justin first met as cast and crew members of Follies at Ross. During rehearsals, the two struck up a friendship that continued outside of the club. Leena and Justin fondly remember sticking around after meetings to write for the Follies show and laughing together until late in the evening.
“I remember being impressed with her razor-sharp wit and riotous sense of humor and also thinking she was one of the most beautiful people I'd ever met,” Justin said.
After graduation, the two briefly lost touch before running into each other completely by chance in San Francisco in the summer of 2008. Leena and Justin’s friendship picked right back up where they left off, and after Justin moved to San Francisco three months later, the rest was history.
The two got married in 2013 and are now celebrating 10 years of marriage. They are the proud parents of two children.
A fateful group project
Fu Keung (Edward) Lau and Amy Wong
BBA ’01/MAcc ’02 and BBA ’01
Before studying at Michigan Ross, Amy and Fu Keung attended schools just a half mile apart in Hong Kong. Fu Keung knew many of Amy’s classmates from joint school events, but the pair never met until their freshman orientation at U-M.
After orientation, they didn’t see each other much besides running into each other in the dining hall every now and then. But that all changed when they were both accepted to Michigan Ross and found themselves in the same working group in their finance and organizational behavior classes.
“Through endless group meetings to prepare papers and presentations, we started out hating each other but ended up falling in love,” Fu Keung recalled.
As the two grew closer during their years together at Michigan Ross, they shared many happy memories, including a date at Pizza House made memorable by their trek home from the restaurant in the snow, which Fu Keung remembers as being very romantic (and cold).
After graduating from Ross, the two stayed together long distance for 10 years before settling down in Hong Kong together. Today, they are married and are the proud parents of three children.