Two of my former students are getting married today – Sarah and Tyler. I will attend their reception this evening where I am sure I will also see a bevy of other EM alumni that remain close to them. Sarah and Tyler are not the first pairing to come out of our program, there have been a number of them over the years. It makes sense, many relationships that result in marriage start in college.
Even though I acknowledge above that college relationships often become marriages, I do believe that the EM program is likely one of the programs that fosters a higher rate of relationships within it than many other programs. Why is that? Well, I have a few theories…no hard data, but my anecdotal evidence resides in the number of pairings I have learned about over the years.
First, EM is about relationships. There is a tremendous focus on partnering with other agencies and working with a wide variety of subject matter experts. EM folks have to be able to develop and nurture relationships with these partners to best serve the needs of their community, organization, or business. Hence, EM folks are focused on relationship building and that seems to translate into a better appreciation of the value of relationships.
Second, in our program we nurture connectivity between the students – in their own cohort and in the cohorts that have preceded and followed them. We become a family created by shared interests, passions, and experiences. Our students spend a great deal of time together both in college-sanctioned extra-curricular activities and in outside social engagements. This creates bonds that endure.
Third, the EM program includes many group projects in its coursework. The focus is often on the collaborative efforts of a team. Part of that process is spending time with folks and learning about their strengths and weaknesses. Indeed, these projects often become a lesson in balancing the strengths and weaknesses of a collective to produce the quality of product necessary to meet the end goal. This lesson can engender great respect and appreciation amongst team members; and, sometimes that respect and appreciation is the little spark that ignites a relationship between two students.
I must confess, that while not a matchmaker by any stretch of the imagination, I am sometimes purposeful in the group placements I make. I really think about the way the group dynamic will challenge my students to grow and I recognize the growth that happens together creates a bond. Sometimes I see the expected evolution of such placements; but, to be fair, more often than not I never see the pairings coming. I often say (and indeed, said it just the other day to a student who was telling me about a new coupling) – “Who would have thunk those two would pair up?” And yes, that is the level of my professional discourse when engaged in such important dialogues – I no longer have thought, it goes directly to thunk.
I have to say, it charms me to see these pairings result in enduring relationships that go on to become marriages. It reminds me that there is added value to our program beyond the academics and career development…there is a chance for folks to find kindred spirits. Today, two of those kindred spirits will wed and that is reason to rejoice.
Congratulations Sarah and Tyler! I wish you decades of happiness together. And as for your wedding gift, well any one of my current or former students should be able to tell you what I am giving you - something that EM folks like us uniquely appreciate. ;-)
Day one thousand two hundred and two of the new forty – obla di obla da