A match made at Tandon
It was not exactly love at first sight. When Mary J. Calabro (MS ’74, Ph.D.’77) was assigned to share a math department office with Bill Hery (BS’67, MS’71, Ph.D.’74), the first thing she noticed was his long, unruly hair — a tonsorial choice that branded him as a “hippie” in her mind. The two soon bonded, however, over their mutual interest in skiing, and they forged a deep friendship that included their third officemate, Diane Forastiero.
Beyond skiing, the pair had a love of mathematics in common — and on occasion those pursuits merged: when Mary was prepping for her qualifying exams, she sometimes toted her textbooks along on ski trips so that she could prepare as they waited on the lift line. Because Bill had already successfully completed his own exams, he was able to give advice and tell her what to expect.
That was not the only time during their courtship that Bill served as something of a mentor and cheerleader. As the stronger skier (thanks to the many lessons he had taken), he helped her hone her own skills, sometimes not telling her they were headed to a more challenging trail than she was used to, lest she become nervous. “Even when she doubted herself, I never did,” he says. “I knew how capable she was.”
A natural partnership grew — both on and off the slopes — and the pair married in 1977, in a small ceremony planned around an already-scheduled ski trip. “We didn’t have much money back then, so it wasn’t lavish,” they recall, “but many of our fellow math graduate students and lifelong friends from Brooklyn Poly were able to be there, including Bob Flynn; Erwin Lutwak, who’s now a professor emeritus; and, of course, Diane.”
After teaching for a time, both embarked on jobs in industry: Bill as a researcher at Bell Labs, and Mary as a computing and information manager at ExxonMobil. She was among the first married women at the company to accept an out-of-state post “married, unaccompanied,” since Bill was tied to his own job at that point and could not relocate with her. He did, however, fly to London to be with her regularly — a state of affairs made possible because he could do some of his own work via the then-nascent internet.
Before one visit, Mary requested that Bill bring her a pair of green boots that she had neglected to pack. Searching the house from top to bottom, he was unable to find them, until she had an epiphany. “Look for what you think are brown boots,” she instructed. There’s a lesson there that, once learned, can contribute to a happy marriage, they say: Understand that no two people, no matter how much they share, will ever see things exactly the same way.
Other lessons they’ve gleaned over the last 45 years: Don’t just plan the wedding. Plan your lives. As much as possible, decide in advance how you will handle career and financial decisions (before they become critical), where you’d ultimately like to live, and other important issues. Weigh what you’re passionate about and what seems practical. In the midst of those serious life decisions, make sure to do fun things together, whether that’s skiing, playing tennis, or simply taking a walk — all still favorite activities of theirs.
Tandon students wanting to excel in the classroom and workplace have no shortage of academic and career role models, but for anyone wanting to learn how to forge a successful, long-lasting marriage, it would be hard to top Bill and Mary.
More Tandon-made Matches
Adil Aziz (Construction Management, BS ’15) and Kavita Bahadur (Electrical Engineering, BS ’15)
Meeting for the first time
On the very first day of orientation, in 2011, a mutual friend, Mohit, introduced Adil and Kavita casually, and they quickly became friends. They often hung out together — usually in groups — and met at 7 a.m. each day to train as members of the school’s Cross Country team.
A pivotal incident
During one early morning run in Fort Greene Park, Kavita was run over by a dog that had been allowed to roam off-leash. Understandably shaken, she was helped up by Adil, who abandoned his own run to make sure she wasn’t badly injured and to walk her back to the campus. He exhibited a tender, caring side that had never been on display, and by 2013 their friendship and team spirit had morphed into something deeper.
After graduating in 2015, the two found their dream jobs in technology and consulting. One night in late 2016, Adil planned a dinner at the Chart House, an elegant restaurant in New Jersey. Although they had talked about a future together, it was nonetheless a surprise when Kavita’s dessert plate emerged from the kitchen, bearing the words “Will you marry me?” written in chocolate.
Not to be outdone by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (Brangelina) or Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez (Bennifer), the couple coined their own portmanteau, Kadil, and created the wedding hashtag #chillwithkadil. The ceremony took place in 2018 in New Hyde Park, with Mohit (naturally!) as an honored groomsman.
In the air at Tandon
The couple, who hail from different religious and cultural traditions, say they still cherish the diversity found at the school. It’s an atmosphere that encourages aspiring engineers from all backgrounds to work together to create a better world — and it allowed Adil and Kavita to work together to achieve their life goals, as husband and wife.
Adalia Leander (Chemical and Biomolecular Science, BS ’10; Management of Technology, MS ’12) and Nicolas Vansnick (Electrical Engineering, MS ‘13)
Meeting for the first time
It’s hard for Nicolas and Adalia to pinpoint their very first meeting, they say, since they were often together as part of large friends groups. Eventually, however, they began singling each other out for special notice.
An entrepreneurial spark
The couple realized that they shared important characteristics, namely ambition and entrepreneurial drive. Adalia was earning a graduate degree in the management of technology—a field that allows graduates to integrate business and tech on a strategic, organizational, and behavioral level—and as a student, Nicolas cofounded the BotFactory, a successful startup that made creating electronic circuit boards easy and cost-efficient.
On a visit to visit Nicolas’s family in Belgium, the couple planned a side trip to Paris (where unbeknownst to Adalia, he planned to propose). That romantic gesture was aborted, however, when he discovered he had inadvertently left the ring back at his family home.
Plan B, however, went seamlessly: upon their return from Paris, Nicolas arranged a trip to the Grand-Place, the picturesque central square of Brussels, where he dropped to one knee to propose.
It’s hard to top a picture-perfect proposal at what is widely considered to be one of the loveliest of all UNESCO World Heritage sites, but Nicolas and Adalia, succeeded, inviting more than 200 guests to not one, but two destination events: the first in Belgium and the second in Adalia’s native Trinidad and Tobago—complete with day trips to Amsterdam and Paris.
The couple, who live in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, maintain busy careers: Nicolas at the helm of BotFactory and Adalia as a manager at a New York City-based fintech company. As parents to a three-year-old daughter, they keep just as busy at home and say communication is the key to juggling it all!
The Tandon connection
Many of the groomsmen at their 2017 wedding were close friends from NYU, and the friendships the couple forged during their time as students continue to be an important part of their lives.
Radhika Mandra (Computer Science, MS, 14) and Raghav Ravisekar (Computer Science, MS, 14)
If you happened to be strolling by the large windows along the Dibner Building one balmy evening in July 2016, you may have witnessed a festive scene: Raghav Ravisekar proposing to his girlfriend, Radhika Mandra, in the balloon-filled lobby in front of a crowd of cheering friends. The two had met at Tandon back in 2012, and Raghav had the touching idea to pop the question in the very spot where they had first laid eyes on each other.
It’s been a whirlwind few years since that party, and we recently caught up with the couple to learn more about what’s going on.
Q: Was the wedding as much fun as the engagement party?
A: It took place later in 2016, and it was wonderful. It was a two-state wedding: we traveled to India and held both a Tamil ceremony and a Marathi one.
Q: By the time you got engaged, you had both found great jobs. Are things going well on the career front?
A: All is going very well. As a managing consultant, Raghav currently oversees a team of nine at Murex, a fixed income and derivative trading firm, and Radhika is working as a senior infrastructure engineer at the the BlackStone Group.
Q: Is there any other news to report?
A: The best news of all! Our son, Riaan Raghav, was born on February 12, 2021. One silver lining to the pandemic and working from home is that we’ve had more of an opportunity to enjoy him and watch him grow.
We know a lot of couples who met at about the same time as we did, and we’re the first to have a baby, so everyone is excited for us. The same crowd from our engagement party at Dibner will be helping us celebrate his first birthday.