Posted Friday, February 09, 2018 - 1:10 PM

Pratt Pairs: Valentine’s Day 2018

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This Valentine’s Day, the Office of Alumni Relations is sharing the stories of alumni who fell for each other while they were students at Pratt.

Read about the couples’ magical moments, their favorite date spots, and relationship advice they have for Pratt students today.


Manoela Madera and Gray EdgErton

MANOELA MADERA AND GRAY EDGERTON

How and where did you first meet?

We met the first day of Bill Hochhausen’s 3-D foundation class in fall of 2003. Being late, we sat opposite one another at the last available table and soon found we had identical class schedules.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

We pitched a tent on the roof of the Pantas dorm.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

We love going to the Rubin Museum, drawing in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and finding new adventures together, like when we snuck into Admiral’s Row to take photos.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Be fun, be spontaneous, be serious, be silly. Always keep raising the vibration and push each other’s creativity.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We have been together for 14 years now, and have a two-year-old daughter. We formed KiiK Create, a multidisciplinary creative collaboration that tackles projects ranging from site-specific murals to graphic and textile designs.

Photo: TostFilms


Mitchell and Mary Silver

MITCHELL AND MARY SILVER

How and where did you first meet?

We met in the 17th-floor lounge in 1985. Pratt used to hold a reception on move-in day for freshmen. I actually saw Mary on the front steps of 215 Willoughby Avenue earlier in the day. For me, it was love at first sight. I still remember what Mary was wearing. I was hoping she would go to the reception that night. She did and the rest is history.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Meeting each other for the first time and falling in love. Also, attending movies at Memorial Auditorium.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

Our first date was in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It still remains our most memorable date.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Be best friends and don’t try to change the person. Love your partner for who they are and not who you want them to be.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

Mary is Director of Afterschool Education for Brooklyn Community Services and Mitchell is the Commissioner for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.   


ALEXA WILSON AND SARAH CHAVARRIA

ALEXA WILSON AND SARAH CHAVARRIA

How and where did you first meet?

We both had work-study our first year at Pratt and met at an America Reads orientation meeting in 2012. Sarah was on time and Alexa was late—the only seat left when Alexa arrived was next to Sarah. Alexa asked Sarah for a pen and we shared names. We were acquaintances, until a year later we became roommates in Willoughby. 

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

We didn't become an "official" couple until May 20, 2015. We know this date vividly because that was the day Alexa was hit by a car. It was inside the ambulance that Alexa asked Sarah to be her girlfriend. We have lots of memories at Pratt, especially since we were roommates for two years!

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

We would take walks to the Brooklyn Bridge late at night, and would ask each other questions, cry, laugh, walk in silence, and share memories. It's how we fell in love with each other and this city.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

For other queer lovers out there: Respect each other's desires, limits, pronouns, and identities! Be proud of your unique queer love and do not compare yourselves to other heteronormative couples. Queerphobia is terrifying at times. We would get harassed just for sitting too close to each other. Find strength in each other. This binary world is not ready for your passion, but your presence and love is ALWAYS valued. CELEBRATE each other!

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We recently got married on December 18, 2017, at Manhattan's City Hall! Alexa is a model maker/manager at Gensler. Sarah is an artist and educator at the Brooklyn Museum and Groundswell Mural Project.    


Carlos Cabral and Sue Jekarl

Carlos Cabral and Sue Jekarl

How and where did you first meet?

In 1990, we met in Willoughby Hall through a mutual friend. We started dating soon after, and we were so into each other all our friends referred to us as "The Unit."

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Our best memories as a couple involved bonding over our time spent together critiquing each other's assignments and balancing our strengths and sensibilities to push each other to be better artists conceptually . . . and then we'd go to Kum Kau!

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

Hands down the Dojo Restaurant on West 4th was our favorite place to eat while scouring the city. It was a quick walk from Canal Street, which at the time was a favorite haunt of all Pratt students.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Be yourself and embrace your youthful optimism. Forever.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

Sue volunteers for many causes and does a lot of pro bono graphic design/illustration while raising our two boys. Carlos has leveraged his design skills to help create animated characters in some of the most memorable Walt Disney animated movies of late.


Ted and Betsy Lewin

Ted and Betsy Lewin

How and where did you first meet?

Betsy: We first met on the Pratt campus. Ted said he had fallen in love with me the moment he saw me two years earlier but was too shy to act on it. I finally got to meet the guy that my roommate had told me I should meet because we would be soul mates. She was right. It was Ted. He was her boyfriend's roommate. He showed me pictures of his pet lion and chimpanzee, and I was hooked.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Ted: There was a curfew at the women's dorm back then. So I used to walk Betsy home, then go stand outside her window on Willoughby Avenue. She would throw open the window in her room and we would talk for hours like Romeo and Juliet.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

Betsy: We used to go to a club in the Village called Ed Winston's where you could dance. It was there that we first professed our love for each other.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Ted and Betsy: Stow your cell phones.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

Ted and Betsy: We've been married for 55 years and live in our brownstone a few doors from Pratt. We're both still writing and/or illustrating picture books, over 400 combined so far, and we've traveled the world for 40 years doing research for our books. We each have a Caldecott Honor and were recently inducted into the Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame.


Allen and Maria Wilpon

ALLEN AND MARIA WILPON

How and where did you first meet?

Higgins Hall, Waterfronts Design Summer Studio, 1984.  

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

First kiss on the balcony of 200 Willoughby Avenue. Dorms overlooking a balmy Manhattan skyline. 

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

Central Falls in Manhattan and Chinos in Brooklyn. Terrific memories. 

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Balance your social and school life. 

Where are you now personally and professionally?

Maria is a Principal at Stantec leading the Higher Education and Healthcare market sectors. Allen is Design Consultant and Professor of Industrial Design at Pratt Institute.  


Sarah oeftering and richard colwell

SARAH OEFTERING AND RICHARD COLWELL

How and where did you first meet?

We met at a typical Taaffe party. Who knew that night would turn into a lifetime, but here we are eight years later. 

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Some of the best memories are taking breaks from whatever project was the most immediate crisis, grabbing a slice at Luigi's, and lying out on the lawn.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

Our favorite spot was Graziella's on Vanderbilt for gnocchi night. We would grab a table on the roof in the summer and wish we were still in Rome. 

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

The most important thing is to support each other. We all have dreams and to have a partner who can understand and help you achieve your goals is invaluable. 

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We moved to Portland, Oregon, three years ago to get some fresh air. It’s such a wonderfully creative city and we've both found great firms to build our careers. We'll be getting married in June and can't wait to explore every corner of the northwest.  


Wayne and Karin Smith-Spanier

Wayne and Karin Smith-Spanier

How and where did you first meet?

Karin was in the Graduate Fine Arts Photography program, and I was in the Graduate Fine Arts Printmaking program . . . that must be 1978 or 1979. She was new to printmaking and I was the studio assistant, so I assisted her. The rest is history . . . 40 years together.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Hanging out all night in the printmaking or photo studios, working and enjoying everyone’s company. Great characters in a graduate fine arts program—very eccentric and creative.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

Our first date was at Panchitos, a Mexican bar on Mcdougall in the village. Maybe it's still there? We continued to go back for years, they had great sangria. 

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

As a couple’s counselor told us many years ago: "Lower your expectations of each other." That takes the pressure off.  It seems to have worked.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We moved upstate to Woodstock, and now in nearby Kingston. Karin is a ceramic artist making and selling beautiful pieces. Wayne is a builder, primarily doing design and restoration on old farmhouses.


ANDREA DIBNER AND GERARD OROZCO
 

 ANDREA DIBNER AND GERARD OROZCO

How and where did you first meet?

We met as “housemates” at our shared apartment on Myrtle Ave in 1994. It was the first day of my senior year and the first day of Gerard’s first year in architecture school.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

Hanging out at the “Pratt Beach” on the weekends with our dogs.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

Favorite Date Spot Now: Atera Restaurant, NYC. Great design, food, service, and allows us “designers” to sit back and let someone else design an amazing experience for us!

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Don’t overthink the relationship. Nothing is ever perfect and sometimes the most beautiful part of the something/someone is their imperfection. Talk, laugh, and cry with each other, and always be honest, even if it hurts.

Where are you now personally and professionally?

Professionally, we are equity partners at Tobin Parnes Design, an architecture/interiors firm, where we have found a strong foundation in our passion for art, architecture, and our work together (although it does take patience and hard work to work as a couple for 25+ years!).

Personally, we settled in Clinton Hill with our three lovely dogs and turtle. We love being so close to Pratt and have enjoyed watching the campus come back to life.


MATT AND MONICA BOOKBINDER

MATT AND MONICA BOOKBINDER

How and where did you first meet?

Matt was an orientation group leader on the first day of school, and he made sure I was in his group. I thought he was cute, but was way too excited about Pratt! We later connected through a mutual friend halfway through that year.

What is your favorite Pratt memory as a couple?

With all the things New York City had to offer, we most enjoyed lounging on the beautiful Pratt lawn with each other, our friends, and the Pratt cats.

What is your favorite date story or date spot in New York?

On our first [double] date in Little Italy, Matt switched with me to sit next to the hot heater pole so that I wouldn’t be sweating. I knew he was a keeper! Little Italy was one of our spots, and we’d get the most delicious tiramisu and eat it on the cab ride home.

Do you have any relationship advice for current students?

Be honest and genuine in everything you do, including love and relationship—and go in deeply with no regrets. Become a better version of yourself each day and aim to serve your partner in the best way you can. Allow your partner to help you grow and connect deeply on a soul level. Above all else, love yourself first. 

Where are you now personally and professionally?

We live in Philly, PA and have a seven-year-old daughter. Matt is the VP of Creative Services at CID Entertainment and Primesport. Monica has spent the last 15 years as an Art Director/Graphic Designer. We created “m squared creation” in 2006, where we sell our other creative work. 


Do you know of other Pratt pairs and partners? The Office of Alumni Relations would love to hear from you. Please share your stories by emailing alumni@pratt.edu.