Valentine's Day, Alumni Couples

Celebrating Valentine’s Day: Georgia Tech Led to Happily Ever After for These Woodruff School Alumni

February 13, 2024
By Chloe Arrington

Few people would begin their college experience thinking their future spouse is walking into the same school, or classroom as them. That iconic moment in the television series How I Met Your Mother when characters Lily and Marshall meet on their first day of freshman year seems more like a romantic trope than a reality, but the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering has proven to be lucky in love for some.

This Valentine’s Day, the Woodruff School is sharing the love stories of three alumni couples who not only started their college and career journeys at Georgia Tech, but also the rest of their lives together.  


Ryan and Caitlin Greene’s Story Starts on Sorority Row

Ryan and Caitlin GreeneRyan Greene, ME 2000, and Caitlin Greene, IE 2002, crossed paths before Caitlin had officially decided to attend Georgia Tech. “One of Ryan's fraternity brothers was my host for the President's Scholar weekend and that's when I first bumped into Ryan at the Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) house after all of our orientation activities were complete,” Caitlin explained.

It was 1998, and the few people who had cell phones still needed two hands to operate them, and one of social media’s biggest developers was just starting high school. “I didn’t even have an email address to share. In the end, we had a nice chat there and assumed we would probably run into each other again once I started school,” said Caitlin.

Amid a busy first-year schedule and workload, Caitlin joined the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, which as fate would have it, was right next door to the Fiji house. Her hope to run into Ryan again was soon realized when she literally bumped into him on the street one day. “He was coming back from swim class, and he invited me to lunch at the fraternity house. That was the start of our relationship!”

When looking back at some of their favorite Tech memories, one that stands out was their first real date at the 1998 Homecoming game, where Georgia Tech toppled the University of Virginia in a thrilling win and Ryan was named Mr. Georgia Tech.

“Our time studying abroad together in Oxford was also an incredible, life-shaping experience that we both shared and opened our eyes to other cultures, new relationships, and further learning,” said Ryan.

Drawn to Georgia Tech for the academic rigor, the Institution, and the opportunities beyond the classroom, Ryan and Caitlin not only see Georgia Tech as the start of their relationship but also as the strong academic start to a myriad of career possibilities.

Caitlin, who wanted to be an entrepreneur, now runs their family flower farm, Peach House Farm, and Ryan is a managing operating partner at Francisco Partners Consulting, which is the operations arm of Francisco Partners, a technology-focused private equity firm with over $40 billion in assets under management.

Their journey at Georgia Tech has kept them both involved as active alumni who want to help foster the connection, community, and real-world readiness that the Institute provides for future Yellow Jackets.


Elias and Lisa Margonis Had Fate and the City of Houston Step In

Elias and Lisa MargonisMilkshakes at Westside Diner started a friendship between Lisa Margonis, ME 2003, and Elias Margonis, ME 2004. That friendship has now turned into a life together where they have traveled the world and taken their mechanical engineering roots into unique careers in patent law and consulting.

Though the pair never dated while at Georgia Tech, the shared experience of the Woodruff School helped them become friends and stay in touch after they graduated. For Lisa, a role as a patent engineer took her back to her home city of Houston (where she earned her J.D. at the University of Houston) and as fate would have it, Elias joined the company Air Liquide in their Houston office the same year.

After reconnecting, and Lisa showing Elias all the best the city had to offer, there is now a friendly debate as to who made the first move. “I’m pretty sure it was Lisa,” joked Elias, “but maybe it was me with the milkshakes back at Westside.”

With a first summer together full of fun outings, club sports, and even a memorable dance-off, they soon realized that not only did they enjoy the same recreational activities, but they also shared a common set of values and drive that has helped them build the life they now share with two their children. They have taken on every adventure possible and lived in several places including Philadelphia, Copenhagen, and Idaho.

The family is now settled back in Houston, where Lisa is a patent lawyer, and Elias a consultant, but both remain active in the Georgia Tech alumni community. “We both have great friends from Georgia Tech, not just from mechanical engineering, and that helps keep your ties strong,” said Lisa.

The couple hopes to inspire future Yellow Jackets by showing the atypical career opportunities that can come from the strong foundation mechanical engineering provides.


The End of an Evening but the Start of Something More for Shay Natarajan and Ashok Rajendar

Shay and Ashok“We met at a birthday party of a mutual friend from Georgia Tech,” explained Shweta (Shay) Natarajan, ME 2009, M.S. ME 2012. “I left the party early and bumped into Ashok, who was also leaving at the same time. We ended up spending most of the night walking around midtown Atlanta.”

Ashok Rajendar, M.S. ME 2011, Ph.D. EAS 2015, says it was serendipitous that they left the party at the same time. “It was only after we met that I realized we'd been in overlapping friend circles for much of the previous two years We had so much to talk about as we walked through the city that night,” he said.

Now, Natarajan and Rajendar are preparing to celebrate their 15th anniversary later this year and look back fondly at the shared time at Georgia Tech. “I have many favorite Tech memories, but since it's Valentine’s Day, I will say one of my favorite memories is walking around the Georgia Tech campus with Ashok," said Natarajan. "Our dates often involved strolling through campus together, since we both thought campus was beautiful and it was a free activity, which is perfect for two broke college students.”

Rajendar agreed. “I have the same fond memories, but another for me is when I was completing my Ph.D. in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Tech, I had the opportunity to do a field trip in Washington, which involved the chance to hike part-way up Mt. St. Helens. That was an incredible experience.”

Georgia Tech has had a lasting impact on both Natarajan and Rajendar. Natarajan now serves as co-chair of the Woodruff Young Alumni Council, and both are eager to help future students have the same positive experiences they did.

“I've always admired Georgia Tech's commitment to providing a top-notch education to as wide a group of driven and intelligent people as possible, regardless of their circumstances," said Rajendar. "I feel that the people I've met at Tech exemplify this, having come from diverse backgrounds, places, and communities.”