SIPA Love Stories: The Newest Connections

As promised, we’re wrapping up the SIPA Love Stories mini-series with alumni love stories submitted last week. It’s been an emotional ride reliving Seeple’s relationships. I hope this series gave you some additional insight into the program, and the student life offerings on campus. But most of all, I hope it reminded you to be kind to one another and to always look for the good in people. This may have been a romantic series for the United States’ Valentine’s Day holiday, but the message of love can be received in any form.

Andy_Michelle Gala

Andy_Michelle Eva lunch

Andy and Michelle’s Love Story:

“My wife (Michelle) and I met at Columbia through Date My School (we were the first to get married as a result of the website). I was at SIPA and she was at the School of Nursing working on her masters to become a Nurse Practitioner.

We met on 17 February 2011 and were married on 29 April 2011. When you know, you know. This Friday, our daughter (Eva) will celebrate her first birthday.

I’ve attached two photos, both from this weekend. One is from a gala event we just attended, and the other is of Eva at lunch with me on Monday before our Daddy-Daughter day at the Denver zoo.”

—Andres (Andy) Lalinde





John and Silvia’s Love Story:

“My husband John Heller, years after his graduation (class of 2000), once ran into former Dean Lisa Anderson from the School of International and Public Affairs and she asked him what had he taken away from SIPA. That’s easy he replied: a wife… “talk about a School of International Affairs”.

I (Silvia Siller) had started SIPA in 1997, coming from Mexico and was living in Columbia Housing in Riverside Dr. and 109. I had a Chinese roommate, Samantha Ing, who transferred one semester later to SIPA and became good friends with John. In January 1998, she celebrated the Chinese New Year in our dorm and she invited her new class mates. That was the first time I met John, a good looking and refined man. (Although till this day he does not remember meeting me that time and we still debate our first encounter since he only remembers when I came to a party he organized)… John and I started dating at SIPA, trying to maintain our relationship secret… with no success. Sometimes we would sneak a kiss in the elevator of the main library of Columbia, or in the SIPA library. Before dating, we ran into each other in the Asian library where he prefered to study, or in the always crowded coffee shop in the lobby of the SIPA building, We also had one class together where we had a rule not to look at each other if we were presenting in front of the class….

But the footprint of our love story is that he actually proposed right at the Alma Matter statue in the middle of Columbia University in May 2001. Today against all the odds of relgion, despite cultural differences and countries, languages and more.

We have been happily married for almost 14 years. We have now three children, Daniel Joseph (11), Gabriel (9) and Amalia (5).

John still works in International Development at the Synergos Institute since he graduated and Silvia Siller balances her life between motherhood, international communications for philanthropy, poetry and flamenco dancing.”

—Silvia Siller


Find the entire Love Stories collection in Columbia Alumni Association’s Facebook album.


And just for our current student and alumni readers, check out CAA’s collection of e-Valentines here.