Valentines: Philippa (Castiaux) Olsen & Luke Olsen

Alumni couple Luke and Philippa Olsen. (Photo: Elza Photography)
Alumni couple Luke and Philippa Olsen. (Photo: Elza Photography)

Having grown up in England, France and the U.S., Philippa (Castiaux) Olsen, GWSB BBA ’04, was drawn to GW for its “international feel.”  After graduating from high school in Dallas, TX, she was off to Foggy Bottom to study international business, with an eye on GW’s numerous study abroad options.

Across the country in Spokane, WA, Luke Olsen, CCAS BS ’04, was also preparing for his college experience. A desire to experience a city far from home, coupled with Luke’s interest in politics, made GW an easy choice.

Both freshmen found themselves living in Lafayette Hall—Philippa on the 7th floor, Luke on the 8th.

“I first met Luke because I was in Ballroom Dance Society with his suitemate, Steve,” says Philippa.

Luke, a geological sciences major,  and Philippa then ended up in several of the same classes. Soon, they teamed up on economics homework and were lab partners in their geology class.

In addition to his classes, Luke also participated in the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) while at GW.  So, when it came time for the Air Force Ball, he had a date in mind. After attending the ball together and building a friendship, Philippa and Luke began dating during their sophomore year.

“We loved going to Manoush and getting hot dogs with GW sauce,” remembers Philippa. Other GW memories include having a party during Hurricane Isabel in 2004 and going to see U2.

After graduation, Luke was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force—so the couple moved across the country.

A little less than a year later, Philippa and Luke tied the knot on March 18, 2005 in Dallas.

While Luke was in the Air Force, the couple lived in Mississippi and then both attended graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis. A few years ago, they relocated back to the Washington DC area, where they’ve had a chance to settle in.

These days, Philippa works at the U.S. Department of Commerce in the International Trade Administration, while Luke works in project management for Astrophysics, a security equipment company.

In July 2013, Philippa and Luke welcomed a baby girl named Charlotte. The family—which includes a dog and a cat—lives in Alexandria, VA.  Though being new parents keeps them busy, Philippa and Luke also find time to enjoy being back in the DC area.

“We like driving out to Shenandoah and visiting wineries, enjoying the outdoors and seeing our friends from GW,” says Philippa.

They also enjoy making trips back to GW to cheer on the Colonials.

“We come back to campus often as we are GW basketball season ticket holders,” says Philippa. “Charlotte is a fan as well and enjoys the games!

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