Partners in Class, Partners in Life

While earning an MA-HRIR degree at the Carlson School certainly provides many professional benefits, the program has also changed the course of many students’ personal lives. Throughout the program, students spend plenty of time together in class, working on group projects, and studying, which often results in lifelong friendships—and as these stories highlight, sometimes classmates become partners beyond their classwork.

Teaching assistants turned life partners


Ian Charpentier,’93 MA-IR, and Kathy Megarry, ’92 MA-IR, met at the Carlson School in 1992, where they both worked for Professor John Budd. Twenty three years later, they’re still working in the field of human resources and industrial relations.

Ian has spent the past several years working in HR at Accenture. Prior to this role, he held numerous positions in the retail and software industries. Kathy works in labor relations. She recently departed from her role at Macy’s to return to the public sector as the chief negotiator for Hennepin County.


Campus tour sparks immediate connection


Olivier Vankerk, ’00 MA-HRIR, and Brye (Paetznick) Vankerk, ’00 MA-HRIR, met in the program on the night of orientation in 2000. Olivier first noticed Brye that night while she was talking to a group of friends. During orientation introductions, Olivier made sure to note that he was new to Minnesota and didn’t know his way around campus yet. When it was Brye’s turn to introduce herself she mentioned that she had lived in Minnesota for five years and she would be happy to act as a tour guide. The pair introduced themselves to one another. Although Brye was in a relationship at the time, the two did end up spending time together both in and outside classes, and routinely met at a table on the ground floor of the Carlson School. It only took a few months to realize they were meant for each other.

Today, Brye works at Cargill and previously held positions at Briystol-Meyers Squibb, IBM, and St. Jude Medical. Olivier, formerly employed by IBM, now works at United Health Group. The two have lived in communities around the world, from New York, Connecticut, and Arizona, to China. They are now back in Minnesota to reconnect with family and friends.


Making a date in the library


Robert Smith, ‘06 MA-HRIR, and Luise Monda, ’06 MA-HRIR, were in the same class in the MA-HRIR program. One day when class let out early, they both happened to head to the Herman Library where Robert mustered up his courage and asked Luise out to coffee. The first date went well and the two started seeing each other. Luise got a job out of state and Robert went on to pursue his PhD but they always stayed in touch. Three years later, they got married.

Robert is now a strategy manager at Accenture and Luise is an HR business partner at Surescripts. The two live in Silver Spring, MD, just outside of Washington D.C., with their two sons.


Study group leads to marriage proposal


Joey Martin, ’08 MA-HRIR, and Roxana (Lopez) Martin, ’09 MA-HRIR, met through their involvement in an international student study group.  Joey has recently returned from a semester exchange at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and had joined a study group of international students that included Roxana. During an ice skating trip Joey conceived of as a study break, Roxana needed help staying upright and Joey was there to help her. That winter, Joey met Roxana’s family, and by New Year’s Eve, he had proposed.

Both Joey and Roxana now work at General Mills: Roxana is an HR business business Partner partner supporting the information technology team, and Joey is a marketing associate supporting the Snacks Club channel.


If you met your partner while in the HRIR program and you’d like to share your story, please drop us a line

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