Alumni Love Stories

Cement your Love in the Bricks

Love is in the air and on the Bricks!

We asked MiamiLaw alumni to share their tales of romance and we received everything from an introduction that ended in tears, studying partners turned lovers, and bad first impressions – all ending in lasting love.

If you met the love of your life while at MiamiLaw, email alumni@law.miami.edu to share your story. We would love to hear from U!

Nanci Schanerman, JD ’11 & Scott Merl, JD ’11

Nanci Schanerman, JD ’11 & Scott Merl, JD ’11
Coral Gables, FL
Scott and Nanci met in their first year of law school. They were both in the same section and quickly became friends. They grew very close until one day, Scott and Nanci attended a Miami Heat game together against the New York Knicks. There was magic in the air that night (clearly because Dwyane Wade stole the show with 45 points, 24 in the 4th quarter, and 10 assists to snatch victory away from the Knicks), and what started out as friendship turned to romance.

From that point on, Scott and Nanci were always a unit. Whether it was cheering on the Hurricanes in football, basketball and baseball, or studying in their adjacent cubicles in the law library, one wa s not far from the other. They dated for almost 6 years, when one night, after seeing their favorite performer, Usher, Scott got down on one knee and Nanci said Yeah! They got married on November 14, 2015 and there is an Ibis flying through a U prominently featured on their Ketubah (Jewish Marriage Contract) to symbolize where it all began.

Alison Harke, JD ’90 & Lance Harke, JD ’90

Alison Harke, JD ’90 & Lance Harke, JD ’90
Miami, FL
Never did we know that fateful day, when 1L classes started in the Fall of 1987, that our lives would change forever.

Alison and I found ourselves both in the same section (B) and with our lockers next to each other, a winning combo that led to becoming boyfriend and girlfriend that same year, marrying upon graduation, and setting off on a life journey that has included four beautiful sons and a boutique law practice in Miami Shores we built from scratch, along with Alison’s sister Sarah Clasby Engel (class of 1993) and our dear law partner Howard Bushman (class of 2000). We truly owe our lives to the U.

Summer DeGel, JD ’13 & Brandon DeGel, JD ’13

Summer DeGel, JD ’13 & Brandon DeGel, JD ’13
Orlando, FL
Brandon and I met our first year of law school at one of his intramural beach volleyball games. A friendship quickly grew between the two of us. After many fun nights out in Brickell, Brandon and I finally realized that we wanted to be more than just friends. We dated our last three semesters at UM.

After law school, Brandon began working in Miami while I moved to Indiana for a federal clerkship. A year later, Brandon proposed on the beach in San Juan Puerto Rico. Brandon and I married on September 5, 2015 in Evansville, Indiana, and we moved to Orlando. I am working as an eminent domain attorney at Gray Robinson and Brandon as a real estate litigator at Winderweedle, Haines, Ward and Woodman. We are enjoying life together in our new home with our two dogs, Lincoln and Carter.

Melissa Rossman, JD ’12 & Bernard Mantel, JD ’12

Melissa Rossman, JD ’12 & Bernard Mantel, JD ’12
New York, NY
Bernard: Some couples say it was love at first sight when they met...the more I hear Melissa tell her side of our story the more I realize that the same can't be said in our case!
Melissa: I first noticed Bernard within the first couple weeks of our 1L year. We were in the same section, he was constantly raising his hand and talking - loudly - in class, and was always wearing his Yankee hat (I am a Red Sox fan). I immediately decided that I did not like this guy. A couple weeks later, I was going out with some friends and discovered that Bernard was joining us. While I was not initially thrilled with the idea of spending the evening with him, I realized within minutes of our first conversation that my initial impression of Bernard was completely wrong.
Bernard: I'm a huge music nerd, so I knew I liked Melissa when I realized that we were into all of the same bands. I brought her a few mix CDs and albums I thought she'd like out of the blue a few days after we met and we really hit it off from there.
Melissa: Over the next year we became close friends, but I always hoped it would turn into something more. I would try to find him in his go-to spots in the library so we could study together. From the Bricks, I could always hear him coming before I saw him (again, his voice carries) and would make sure to get his attention.
Bernard: We naturally gravitated towards one another and started hanging out all the time. We'd trade outlines, watch baseball, study together, you name it - we even took a road trip to Atlanta over Spring Break to catch one of our favorite bands! It was a really exciting time.
Melissa: At the start of our 2L year, we made our relationship official - that was more than six years ago! We have since moved to New York and established our lives and careers together. We are getting married in December in Manhattan.

The Honorable John Thornton, JD ’77 & Mindy Thornton, JD ’78

The Honorable John Thornton, JD ’77 & Mindy Thornton, JD ’78
Miami, FL
It was not an auspicious introduction when first year student Mindy Sterman arrived for her practice moot court round, conducted by members of the Moot Court Board. At its conclusion, she left in tears, sure that she’d never survive life as a lawyer, having been put through the ringer by second-year student and board member, John Thornton. Fortunately, Mindy survived the freshman moot court experience and joined John on the Moot Court Board, where she realized that John is actually a really great guy. John’s impromptu invitation to a Stephen Stills concert on the patio sealed the deal. They eventually became partners in later moot court competitions, interned together at the State Attorney’s Office, and genuinely enjoyed their time at the Law School. To this day, they count among their best friends the group of classmates and members of the law school family with whom they shared this special experience.

Thanks to the Law School, John and Mindy not only found each other, but also a profession that has brought them both tremendous satisfaction. John practiced criminal law for close to thirty years in his own firm, and is now a circuit court judge in addition to being a long-time adjunct professor in the litigation skills program. Mindy practiced local government law at the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office for over thirty-five years and now is an appellate lawyer at Cole, Scott & Kissane. They are most proud of their thirty-seven year marriage, and their two sons, David and Ryan, who work in Miami and have wonderful families of their own. The Thorntons owe it all to the U!

Lauren, JD ’15 & Nicholas, JD ’15

Lauren, JD ’15 & Nicholas, JD ’15
Cincinnati, OH
Every relationship has a defining moment or significant spot that is solely their own. A spot that speaks to them unlike it does to anyone else. This significance is so important it becomes their favorite place in existence. On November 9, 2012, during our first semester of law school, we crossed paths on the bricks. Groups of students were trickling downstairs as the notorious CST exam finished. Although most 1L’s were anxious to be anywhere else but campus, we both stopped by the bricks, likely with the intentions of unwinding after our first law school exam and commiserating with friends over the stress of impending finals. Our eyes met and sparks flew. We were sleep-deprived and not looking our best, but at that moment none of that mattered.

With finals approaching, the bricks became our meeting spot. While most new couples meet at clubs or restaurants or even online, we spent countless hours sitting outside in those green chairs surrounded by beautiful scenery studying, laughing, and ultimately falling in love. We visit the bricks each year taking a picture in the same spot wearing the same clothes we wore on the day we met to replicate that life-changing day.

Although the bricks has no fancy monuments, pyramids, or government buildings on the premises, it will always be our favorite place because it contains the memories of our love story etched in brick ensuring that our Miami Law Love will last forever.

Joelle Simms, JD ’10 & Mark Simms, JD ’10

Joelle Simms, JD ’10 & Mark Simms, JD ’10
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Joelle and Mark first met at UM Law orientation through a mutual friend. Following orientation, they discovered that they were both in the same 1L section, Section B. Having all of their classes together and living in the same apartment complex, Joelle and Mark quickly became friends, and, one year later, began dating.

They were married in 2012 and welcomed their son, Wesley, last summer. Joelle and Mark live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and work as securities litigation attorneys in the Fort Lauderdale office of Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C.

Daryl Greenberg, JD ’11 & Jake Greenberg, JD ’11

Daryl Greenberg, JD ’11 & Jake Greenberg, JD ’11
Miami, FL
Daryl and I met during the first week of orientation. Although we were not in the same section (and did not have a single class together) we immediately became very close friends spending most weekends exploring Miami together, as we were both new to Miami. In the spring of 2008, we realized that we were meant for each other. We started dating in March 2008 and, after finals, took a long road trip home together stopping in Atlanta (Daryl’s home), D.C. (for fun) and New York (my home). After Daryl went back to Atlanta for the summer, we stayed in touch and ultimately moved to the same apartment complex in Brickell for our 2L year.

Daryl and I continued dating throughout 2L and 3L year and travelled to South Africa to meet Daryl’s family in 2010. After graduation, Daryl and I moved in together and embarked on the next chapter of our lives. We were engaged in the summer of 2012 and married in November 2013.

Daryl and I recently celebrated our third wedding anniversary and are proud parents of our son, Harvey Leo Greenberg. We are lucky that we found each other at The U and have made our home in Miami.

Lauren Lee Pettiette, JD ’14 & Abraham Rubert-Schewel, JD ’14

Lauren Lee Pettiette, JD ’14 & Abraham Rubert-Schewel, JD ’14
Brooklyn, NY
Abe was teaching high school in Jackson, Mississippi, and I was a third grade teacher in Baker, Louisiana. Both of us were called to apply to law school as a way of serving as a greater voice against the injustices that many in our home and school communities faced on an everyday basis. With the help of the Miami Scholars Program, Dean Marni Lennon, and Myles Cochran, Abe and I both selected Miami Law as the place to start our advocacy careers, and in turn, we found each other.

As fate (or the HOPE Office) would have it, Abe and I were both in Section D and sat next to each other with two of our now closest friends. The four of us would pal together as a “law firm,” study group, lunch buddies, and now, each other’s bridesmaids and groomsmen. Although studying for our final exams, preparing for Moot Court, and practicing for Trail Advocacy took up a lot of time, I also have great memories of Abe and I tutoring the young men of Empowered Youth, cheering on the ‘Canes, zealously serving our clients in the CYLC and Immigration Clinic, and advocating for children and families through Historic Black Church Project. Our partnership was molded from compassion, integrity, camaraderie, respect—and “HOPE.” When we started dating our 3L year, we both knew we could tackle life’s challenges together with good spirits and great support networks.

Today, Abe and I continue to fight the good fight in New York City. Abe is a Criminal Defense Attorney for the Legal Aid Society where he zealously advocates for his clients in the courtroom, and I am the Senior Director of Education at HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services (HSVS) where I advise and supervise the education of the children and youth in our care with a special focus on our college access and success programs. On February 11, 2017, Abe and I are getting married in my hometown, and we will say a special toast in thanks for our Alma Mater. Cheers!

Amanda (Vahabi) Levine, JD ’  & Zacharie Levine, JD ’

Amanda (Vahabi) Levine, JD ’12 & Zacharie Levine, JD ’12
New York, NY
The day was August 17, 2009. It was my first day of classes at UM Law and, though I didn't know it at the time, the day I met my soulmate. I took a seat in an empty row towards the back of lecture room LC 170, nervous for the new adventure ahead. A few minutes later, Zach filled the empty seat directly next to me. Neither of us had any idea at the time that these would be our assigned seats for all of our classes that semester. To this day, he tells me his seating choice was strategic and that I immediately caught his eye. We immediately had a connection and spent our weekends hanging out with the same group of friends. Our friendship turned romantic a few weeks later.

It's been almost 8 years now since Zach sat next to me in LC 170. We are married, living and working in NYC with our beloved dog, saving for our first home, and making plans to start our family. We frequently visit Miami and reminisce about all the incredible memories we had there. I gave Zach a love brick as a wedding gift so our love could be forever embedded on campus within the same bricks that led us to each other. I couldn't imagine my life without Zach, and all of the great friends I met at UM Law. UM Law will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

Julia Kosinski, JD ’11 & Saul Cardenas Soto, JD ’12

Julia Kosinski, JD ’11 & Saul Cardenas Soto, JD ’12
New York, NY
Julia and Saul met at law school in 2009 - Julia was a 2L and Saul had just begun his 1L year. Saul had supposedly seen Julia around campus since his first week there, and after about a month or so, gathered up the courage to ask one of their mutual friends to help set him up with her. They met up one night in the Grove with a bunch of friends (Julia came armed with her section E backup) and the two of them ended up talking for hours. Later that same week, Saul asked Julia out on an official date (on his birthday no less) and they soon became inseparable.

In 2012, upon Saul's (JD) and Julia's (LL.M.) graduations, they moved north to Connecticut where they now live. Several years later, they married in Tarrytown, New York along the Hudson River in front of many of their dearest Section E and Section G friends.

Presently, Saul is in-house legal counsel at Commonfund, an investment firm, in Wilton, Connecticut and Julia is an attorney at Bridgewater Associates, a hedge fund based in Westport, Connecticut.

Nejla Calvo, JD ’15 & Edward Proenza, JD ’15

Nejla Calvo, JD ’15 & Edward Proenza, JD ’15
Miami, FL
Nejla Calvo and Edward Proenza met during their second week at UM Law through mutual friends. They quickly grew fond of each other and formed a strong bond through conversations on the bricks, study sessions in the law library, workouts at the UM gym, happy hours, and lots of dancing. During law school, both Ed and Nej became student leaders in their respective fields of interest. Ed was the two-term president of the Hispanic Law Student Association (HLSA). Nej was the President of the Society of Bar & Gavel and Director of Equity Playhouse. They both supported one another in all of their endeavors during law school and continue to do so in their legal careers.

Edward is an associate attorney at Blaxberg, Grayson, Kukoff & Forteza, PA, working in condominium and homeowners association law. Nejla is an Equal Justice Works Fellow at Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. working in housing advocacy and landlord-tenant law, with a focus on mobile home parks. Edward recently proposed to Nejla in Parque del Retiro in Madrid, Spain. The two UM law alums will say "I do" in early 2018.

Lisa (Seto), JD ’13 & Jonathan Hixon, JD ’12

Lisa (Seto), JD ’13 & Jonathan Hixon, JD ’12
Boston, MA
Lisa and I met when I was a 2L and she was a 1L. We were both attending a party at the Shore Club on South Beach with friends. After some persistence on my part, Lisa agreed to go out to dinner with me, and the rest, as they say, is history.

We got married in New York City in October 2013 and had a daughter, Isabel Mei, on March 17, 2016. We currently live right outside of Boston where I am an Associate at Hackett Feinberg, P.C. and Lisa is an Assistant Vice President at State Street Bank.

Jessica Fishfeld, JD ’13 & Jordan Fishfeld, JD ’12

Jessica Fishfeld, JD ’13 & Jordan Fishfeld, JD ’12
Chicago, IL
For all the reasons in the world, Jordan and Jessica should not have ended up together. She was a double ‘Cane from Tampa, and he was a die-hard Gator fan from Boca Raton with a mild fear of commitment. What started off as mutual respect turned into a friendship, which blossomed into a love. To really understand why Jordan was so attracted to Jessica, you need only see our photo. The real mystery is why she was so attracted to him, and the answer turns out to be simple. She likes nerds. You see, Jessica was a talkative know-it-all who was always raising her hand in class and staying after to ask the professor questions. She took all of her classes very seriously, and she especially loved Elements. She attended the Elements Dean’s Fellow sessions, and often discussed the material with her Dean’s Fellow. This is where it gets interesting, because as it turns out, Jordan was her Dean’s Fellow. He had helped 1L students acclimate to law school and unravel the mystery of Professor Anderson’s Elements class for two years, so he was able to breeze through her questions like a pro. In talking with Jessica, Jordan quickly discovered that she was as passionate about the law as he was. The pair became fast friends, and began to spend more time together socially. After the semester ended, they began dating.

After completing her first year, Jessica accepted a job offer at Sidley Austin in Chicago, and Jordan moved there with her to take a job at Katten Muchin Rosenman. Once settled, he left the legal field and started a financial technology company and also gives much of his time to charity work. Jessica continues to excel at Sidley. The two were married in March 2015, and are very excited for the arrival of their first child in June 2017.

Joseph Matthews, JD ’14, Liana (Nealon) Matthews, JD ’13

Joseph Matthews, JD ’14, Liana (Nealon) Matthews, JD ’13
Joe met second-year law student Liana during his law school orientation, which left an indelibly fateful impression on him. It motivated Joe to join the Equity Playhouse, which Liana was the Director of. They became friends during rehearsals and they connected with a mutual love of music and family. They grew exponentially close until the day Joe gathered the courage to buy Liana a cup of coffee on a brisk Miami night. As intentions became clearer, a carefully crafted friendship became a sincerely passionate romance.

They were engaged in 2014, married in 2015, and had their first child, Joseph Jr., on June 6, 2016. Liana is an assistant public defender at the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office and Joe is the Associate Director of Student Recruitment at Miami Law.

Sherry Tropin, JD ’78 & Harley Tropin, JD ‘77

Sherry Tropin, JD ’78 & Harley Tropin, JD ‘77
Boy meets girl. A story as old as time. The place: UM Law Library, 1975. The boy: Harley Tropin (’77). The girl: Sherry Magerer Tropin (’78). Love at first sight? Well, maybe not. At first Sherry said ‘just friends’. But Harley persisted and by 1976 love had bloomed. The rest is history.

We got married in 1978 after Sherry graduated. We live in Miami and have raised three wonderful sons, including one UM Law graduate, David (’09). We made our home in Miami and Harley’s law practice is in Coral Gables. Our connection to the law school is still strong. Harley loves teaching in the Litigation Skills program and guest lecturing in the Mindfulness Program. We remember fondly the law school years….outlines, posting of grades on the wall, the Rathskeller and the many lifelong friends we made in addition to finding each other that day in the library. Our happy story would not have been possible without UM Law School.

Raphael M. Bastian, JD ’91 & James Boink, Jr., JD ’93

Raphael M. Bastian, JD ’91 & James Boink, Jr., JD ’93
James and I met after the UM Law Equity Playhouse, early 1991. His friend had to talk to my friend, so we were forced to chat with each other. Our first date was set up by other mutual friends, Robin Rosenbaum (JD ’91) and her cousin Stephen Talpins (JD ’92). We went to the Bakery Center to see a movie, as Robin and Steve coaxed us to sit next to each other and tried to spark the conversation. On our next date, we managed to get through dinner and conversation on our own without any help from well-meaning friends! I was a 3L and headed off to Washington, DC, to work for the Justice Department, and James was just finishing his first year at UM Law. Somehow, through the long distance, his exams and my business trips, our different schedules, my having very little leave and no more winter or spring breaks, we managed to make it work. We were married in February of 1995, so will celebrate our 22nd anniversary in 2017. After a few years in Columbus, Ohio, we ended up back in Miami, have three kids (Kateri, Marika and Holt), and still love catching up with all those UM Law friends who made sure we got together.

Desiree Marengo, JD ’12 & Seth Masson, JD ’12

Desiree Marengo, JD ’12 & Seth Masson, JD ’12
I met my now husband, while at UM law. In fact, we met on our first day in our first class, LRW. We were in the same section, D (which apparently our section was aware of our chemistry way before we were). We quickly became best friends and were even appellate brief/oral argument partners for our end of the year LRW project. We studied abroad together through UM Law's LEAP program the summer of 2010, all while staying close friends. It wasn't until our 3L year when we realized there was something more. We recently married (December 17, 2016) and are both practicing law in Miami.

Alyssa Landino, JD ’15 and John Moscarino, JD ’15

Alyssa Landino, JD ’15 and John Moscarino, JD ’15
Cleveland, OH
Alyssa Landino and John Moscarino were in Section E together as 1Ls at Miami Law. Although they spoke a number of times throughout the year, their romance sparked after 1L oral arguments in LCOMM. As any law student will remember, this is an incredibly intimidating experience. On the morning of the oral arguments, John's partner left law school altogether, leaving John to complete the argument in front of a panel of three judges alone. After word spread of John's bravery, Alyssa invited him to have some drinks at the Rat with some friends. John pulled Alyssa inside to buy her an IPA, and the rest was history.

After graduation, John and Alyssa moved to John's hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. They live and work downtown with their rescue mutt, Joey. John asked Alyssa to marry him in December of 2016 and they will tie the knot in May of 2018. Alyssa is an associate at McDonald Hopkins, LLC and John is an associate at Moscarino & Treu, LLP.

Livia Chaykin, JD '12 & Jared Chaykin, JD '13

Livia Chaykin, JD '12 & Jared Chaykin, JD '13
West Palm Beach, FL
In the summer of 1999, I was a counselor-in-training at tennis camp, where I met Livia, a camper who was not so quiet about her love of all things Florida Panthers and Miami Hurricanes. We quickly became close friends; I even lit a candle at Livia's bat mitzvah! It wasn't until the Summer of 2001 when we enjoyed our first date: a movie and a milkshake. We dated exclusively throughout high school, attending each other's homecomings and proms, and then decided to "take the leap" to attend the University of Miami together. (Livia and her family were avid UM fans, so there was really no other real choice!)

Throughout our time at UM, we realized just how well we worked together and truly shared such similar interests. As corny as it sounds, we enjoyed spending every moment together--from attending classes to volunteering and leading campus organizations. Together, we hung out on "the bricks" as undergrads, trying to blend in with the law students, and talked of one day opening our own law firm.

Throughout our time at UM law, our love continued to blossom. During Livia's 2L summer, we were married on the ten-year anniversary of our first date, and Livia shortly thereafter became pregnant with our son (I still don't know how she graduated at the top of her class taking exams 9-mos. pregnant, but you're not surprised if you know her). Our dreams came true in 2013 when I founded Chaykin Law Group, and Livia soon joined me. UM shaped who we are, and gave us a sense of community and family for which we are forever grateful. Go 'Canes!

Melissa (Jonas) Cohen, JD '12 & Brandon Cohen, JD '12

Melissa (Jonas) Cohen, JD '12 & Brandon Cohen, JD '12
Delray Beach, FL
Melissa and Brandon met 2L year in one of the many classes they had together. Starting off as friends, they would talk in-- I mean, between classes. By 3L year, they had weekly "appointments," walking with each other to Jamba Juice and Starbucks every Thursday. Despite their consistent friendship, Brandon didn't ask Melissa out on their first date until the day of graduation, just 3 days before Brandon moved back to New York and Melissa back to Boca Raton! Despite the distance, their relationship blossomed quickly and by the following summer they were engaged!

Brandon and Melissa got married in January 2015 and now live in Delray Beach with their beautiful 11-month old son, Ian. Between their continued involvement with Miami Law's HOPE programs and as owners of an LSAT Prep company in Coral Gables, both Brandon and Melissa still spend much of their time in-and-around campus and were recently featured on the Miami Law website. As the fifth brick on the Love Bridge in their family, Melissa and Brandon are proud 'Canes and owe much of their lives and success to The U!