Jeffrey Allen White had always sworn that he wouldn’t date someone he went to school with. Then he met Chu En Wu.
Both he and Ms. Wu, who is known as Joanne, were in other relationships in the fall of 2016 when she walked through a central gathering spot at the University of North Carolina’s law school, where both were students. She saw a friend talking with Mr. White and stopped to say hello.
Ms. Wu, who was a first-year student, mentioned that she wasn’t enjoying her criminal law class. Mr. White, who was in his second year, had the same professor for the same class the previous year, and offered to share his course notes.
“I thought he was attractive,” said Ms. Wu, who was also thrilled at the prospect of obtaining what essentially amounted to a cheat sheet to the course. She found him later on Facebook and sent him a message asking him to send over those notes whenever he found the time.
He did — and the two subsequently became friendly. Ms. Wu, 30, graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina State University. Mr. White, who is 31 and grew up in Jackson, N.C., also received a bachelor’s degree, with distinction, from U.N.C.
“I’m generally helpful as a matter of course, but I was extra helpful with her,” he said. “Her bubbly personality makes you want to be with her.”
Almost a year later, she was visiting her sister in New York City, where she grew up after her family emigrated from Taiwan when she was 2. He was there working as a summer associate. She joined him and some of his friends at a bar in Brooklyn for drinks.
“We had a great time and kind of hit it off there,” Mr. White said. “Sparks were flying.”
She was still in a relationship then, though he was again single, and he had told himself sternly that he wouldn’t fall into a frivolous relationship during his last year of law school. He wanted, he said, his next relationship to end up in a lifetime partnership.
But, he said, “We got back to school in August, and sparks continued to fly.”
When she let slip at a regular law-student Thursday social (known tongue-in-cheek as “bar review,” because it’s basically a night out at a local bar) that her long-term relationship had ended, in an instant, his attitude toward dating a law school colleague changed. He wasted no time asking her out.
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“Joanne became available and changed my mind, as she does all the time,” he said.
The two left “bar review” together, and had their first kiss that night. Both are now associates at law firms in Charlotte, N. C.— she at Poyner Spruill and he at Moore & Van Allen.
About a week later, she convinced him that he owed her a margarita (“I didn’t push back too hard,” he said), and the two went out again, to a mediocre Mexican place.
But it was their next get-together, at her place, that the two had what they consider their first date. He brought two porterhouse steaks and a cast-iron skillet. She made brussels sprouts, which, he said, “terrified me because I had never had them before.” But “a ton of bacon grease,” she said, eased the introduction.
The relationship progressed rapidly, even though he was professionally committed to moving to New York City after his final year of law school, while her future likely lay at a law firm in North Carolina. (Both received law degrees from U.N.C., he with high honors.) Also, at first, she was a little reluctant to dive into a new relationship after having just concluded another.
“But,” she said, “he was someone I could so clearly picture as my future partner for good.”
On vacation at a mountain cabin with friends for New Year’s 2017, both acknowledged what had grown between them.
“We hadn’t seen each for a couple weeks, and distance made the heart grow even fonder,” Mr. White said. “We both said ‘I love you’ that night.”
“I see our values so clearly aligned — what matters, what doesn’t matter — someone who has the ability to keep me accountable, which I love, but who also makes me feel like the most special person in the world,” he said.
On Sept. 10, the two were married by A.J. Catucci, a nondenominational charismatic Christian minister, at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines, N.C. They had about 140 guests at their ceremony.
Thinking back to their first meeting, Mr. White said that while he has never regretted the notes proffer that was the first of so many things they have shared, Ms. Chu perhaps had cause to feel otherwise.
“Much to her chagrin, it was her worst grade in law school,” he said.
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