The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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Put a ring on it: The continuing tradition of alumni marriages

By Julia Anderson

Tristan Ashettino ’18 and Alejandra Rodriguez Wheelock ’17 met in a philosophy class and are engaged to be married this December. Contributed photo.

Grinnellians marry Grinnellians, or so rumor has it. According to who you ask, up to 60% of Grinnell students and alumni will end up marrying another Grinnellian (others claim the statistic is closer to 20 or 30%). Some couples meet during their shared time at the College, while many others meet long after graduation, able to bond over their common Grinnell experience.

Shida Jing and Libby Farrell, both ’19, are mere weeks away from joining this exclusive group of alumni. The two became engaged this semester and plan to get married in the afternoon of May 20, the same day as the College’s commencement ceremony. Deanna Shorb, Dean of Religious Life, will officiate the wedding in Herrick Chapel.

Though packing a graduation and a wedding into one day may seem ambitious to some, Farrell and Jing feel fortunate to have the opportunity to include their friends, family and other close members of the Grinnell community.

“The matter was just like when to do it, but we thought at graduation, all of our friends and family are going to be in one place. … All of our friends are kind of from all over, and they’re going all over, so it’s kind of hard to get everyone in one place,” said Farrell.

The couple, who are both mathematics majors, met during their first year but did not begin dating until the spring of their third year.

“We first met in our first year in a mentor session of a math class. We didn’t become friends until second year, where we took our first math class together. … We became best friends, actually, with each other for a long time,” said Jing.

Before officially becoming engaged, Farrell and Jing discussed the possibility of marriage.

“I wasn’t surprised when he proposed. We had been talking about it for a while, and we had been talking to our families about it as well,” Farrell said.

“Even when we were just friends before we dated, sometimes we would half-jokingly be like, ‘hey you know, I think we’re really compatible, if we someday got married, that wouldn’t be a surprise,’” Jing added.

Tristan Aschittino ’18 and Alejandra Rodriguez Wheelock ’17 are another engaged couple who met at Grinnell, in a philosophy class during Aschittino’s first year and Rodriguez Wheelock’s second year. After four years of dating, the two became engaged in March and plan to get married in December in Guatemala City, Rodriguez Wheelock’s hometown.

“We had a philosophy class together then and I complimented her sunglasses while she was sitting in front of me. We stayed after class to view a 1651 first print of Hobbes’ Leviathan in Burling basement and then we walked to Noyce together. I asked her out then to get coffee at Saint’s Rest, a Grinnell tradition. She was intellectually curious and beautiful, and very intriguing, almost poetic with her language,” wrote Aschittino in an email to The S&B.

The couple has had to navigate challenges of long-distance dating at times, such as when Aschittino studied abroad in London and when Rodriguez Wheelock traveled for a year on a Watson Fellowship. They plan to move to the Twin Cities, Aschettino’s hometown, soon and live together as a married couple.

“I think Grinnell helped give us the habit of dissecting the world around us and generating new perspectives on problems. This way of thinking, which we really used throughout our journey to get our philosophy degrees, helps us always have something to talk about and disagree in a constructive way. Also, the multi-cultural makeup of the student body helped us navigate having a relationship with different cultural backgrounds, since Tristan is American and I am Guatemalan. I am sure Grinnell showed us to ask the tough questions and see multiple perspectives,” wrote Rodriguez Wheelock in an email to The S&B.

Angela Matsuoka ’04 and Rob Barron ’02 overlapped in their time at Grinnell but did not connect on a level deeper than acquaintances until Barron returned to campus in January of 2003, visiting as an alum.

“We hit it off one night during his visit to The Pub, an off campus bar on Main Street. … We got married in May 2005, at a small bed and breakfast on the Northern California coastline,” wrote Matsuoka in an email to The S&B.

For Matsuoka and Barron, the values and education they honed during their time at the College impacts both who they are as individuals and the way they interact as a married couple.

“We see the world and our roles in the world very similarly. We have different passions but both use our interests and vocations to serve others. We celebrate our Grinnell heritage whenever we think critically, act thoughtfully and communicate effectively in all facets of our lives. And now, as parents (to a six-year-old and one-year-old), we are able to pass on those shared values to a new generation,” Matsuoka wrote.

Libby Farrell and Shida Jing, both ’19, are planning their wedding for May 20 in Herrick Chapel. Photo by Shabana Gupta.
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