Making a Match at HSDM: Alumni Love Stories

February 14, 2020
Sandhya Harpavat, DMD02, PD04, and her husband, Sanjiv, PhD06, MD06, with their family.

Many Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) students arrive at 188 Longwood Avenue with high expectations—to earn a degree, conduct research, practice dentistry, or pursue a specialty, among other professional pursuits. What many HSDM students don’t expect, however, is to find the love of their life. Against all odds, and in between pre-clinical lab, classes, and patients, these alumni did just that: fall in love. Whether their romance began at Orientation, or in a study group, or collaborating over a treatment plan, each story is unique and highlights the School’s special tight-knit community.

A Spark on Day One

Sometimes, HSDM love stories begin right at DMD Orientation, or in the elevators of Vanderbilt Hall on move-in day. Sandhya Harpavat, DMD02, PD04, and her husband, Sanjiv, PhD06, MD06, were neighbors in Vanderbilt Hall and met on their very first day on campus. The pair have been married for 18 years, reside in Houston, Texas, and share three beautiful children together. Harpavat said, “We are so grateful to have met at HSDM/HMS all those years ago!”

Other Vanderbilt Hall romances take a bit more time to bloom, as was the case with Bryan Jacobs, DMD10, and his now-wife Linda Chan-Jacobs, Alice Kim-Bundy, DMD08, and her husband, Michael Bundy, DMD08, pose with their family.DMD10. While they met on the Vanderbilt Hall elevator in the middle of a chaotic move-in day, they caught each other’s eyes at Society Olympics later that year, and were eventually set up by a classmate on Halloween of their second year. Now based in the Chicago area, the classmates-turned-husband-and-wife are raising three young children while balancing careers in prosthodontics and endodontics.

Alice Kim-Bundy, DMD08, and her husband, Michael Bundy, DMD08, recall meeting at Orientation prior to starting their first year as predoctoral students. Currently living in Los Angeles with their three boys, Alice works in a private practice, while Michael works in a hospital setting for Kaiser Permanente. “We are forever grateful to HSDM for setting the stage for our love story,” said Kim-Bundy.

In the Field

Other love stories originated in a classroom, or a clinical setting. Michael Hauser, PD81, was a resident in the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMFS) program in 1978 when he met his future wife, Barbara. She had previously worked as the head nurse in the OMFS clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital, and returned to visit friends and former colleagues. Michael and Barbara sat across from one another at a group outing that evening. The two have been together ever since (42 years to be exact!).

Joy Phelps, DMD06, and her husband, Maynard Phelps, DMD06.Joy Phelps, DMD06, and her husband, Maynard Phelps, DMD06, hit it off right away, becoming study partners shortly after beginning their first year at HSDM. Four children and a move to Williamsburg, Virginia, later, the pair work in practices right next door to one another and regularly make time for lunch dates.

Lauren Manning, DMSc15, met Peter Dennis, DMD13, when he referred a patient from the pre-doctoral clinic to her for a prosthodontics consultation. Lauren was in her first year of HSDM’s Prosthodontics advanced graduate program while Peter was two years into pursuing his DMD. After leaving HSDM, Peter enrolled in a residency in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Portland, Oregon. Lauren moved to Portland with Peter, working in private practice as well as teaching in the dental program at Oregon Health and Science University. The pair married in September 2018 and share a beautiful Goldendoodle.

Chance Encounters

One doesn’t expect to meet the love of their life while waiting for the Longwood shuttle bus, but that is exactly what happened to Tom Dodson, DMD84, MPH84. Tom noticed Ellen as he waited for the bus to arrive, and strategically sat near her, striking up a casual conversation. Ellen Dodson, AB80, SM83, was a recent graduate of Harvard College studying at the Harvard School of Public Health. The two parted ways after exchanging information, but due to a few near-misses, could not find a time to connect. A mutual friend, Darrell Van Horn, DMD84, finally vouched for Tom, which led to the couple’s first official date. The couple has been married for 37 years, have two adult children and one grandson, and have lived together all over the country, including Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Seattle.

barry Trabitz, DMD58, and his wife Gayle.On February 14, 1956, Barry Trabitz, DMD58, and his classmates prepared to attend the annual Valentine’s Day Dance at Vanderbilt Hall. Trabitz was being set up on a blind date by a friend, and met Gayle, a Wheelock College student, that evening. He learned quickly that Gayle was one-of-a-kind. Upon leaving the dorm to walk to the dance, Gayle playfully tossed a snowball in Trabitz’s direction. The two shared a wonderful evening together, ending with McDonald’s hamburgers in Cambridge. They married just a year-and-a-half later. They currently reside in Connecticut and enjoy annual road trips to warmer locations as an escape from New England winters. They are parents to three daughters and are blessed with five grandchildren.

See also: Community