Colonial Love: Marco & Nabila

Thanks to Marco Fernandes, GWSB MBA ’07, and Nabila Hai, SMHS MD ’10, for sharing their story!

One morning in the fall semester of 2002, Professor Collins-Cavanaugh excused two students from class for getting an “A” on a paper. Marco Fernandes, MBA ’07, and Nabila Hai, MD ’10, were not required to participate in the class discussion. Unbeknownst to the professor, on that fateful day, he put a cosmic event in motion that would take four more years to unfold.

“We both gathered our things and walked out as fast as possible,” says Nabila. “I remember this tall guy in a gray hoodie and navy blue sweatpants jetting toward the front doors of Phillips Hall, smiling to himself. I was dressed to the nines at 8am, and he looked like he had just rolled out of bed.”

While it would be years before they became a couple, Marco and Nabila did speak (briefly) once at Gelman. They bumped into each other among some stacks of old books, and Marco said, “Hey! You were the girl who got an ‘A’ on that paper!” During the rest of their undergraduate years, they saw each other on campus only a handful of times.

Fast forward to Thursday before graduation at one of the senior events on the Georgetown waterfront. Nabila and her friends were at the top of the stairs, and Marco and his friends were by the fountain. “It was one of those cheesy moments when our heads happened to turn and we made eye contact,” laughs Nabila. “I remember thinking, ‘how do I know that guy? And wow is he cute!’”

Later in the evening when the two of them met on the stairs, they stopped to chat, but neither of them could recall how they knew the other. It wasn’t until late in the evening when Marco came back to Nabila, grinning, that they put two and two together. “It was 8am English class freshman year with Collins-Cavanaugh!” he said, then added, “Now that we’ve established we’re old friends, I’d love to take you out to dinner.”

On their first date, they shared stories about their families—Marco is first-generation Portuguese, and Nabila is first-generation Bangladeshi. After dinner, they took a stroll down to the United States Navy Memorial, where they pointed out their respective countries on the large map embedded in the plaza’s stone.

Seven years later, Marco brought Nabila back to that same memorial for a surprise. After sending a limousine to pick her up at GW Hospital, where she worked, he got down on one knee in front of the memorial and proposed. “He opened up a blue velvet box with the most perfect solitaire radiant-cut ring I had ever seen,” says Nabila. “My eyes welled up with tears, I could barely see the ring or Marco’s face anymore.”

Of course, she said ‘yes.’ The couple celebrated their wedding in New Jersey with family and friends on August 10, 2013. They currently reside in Englewood, New Jersey, where Marco is a financial advisor and Nabila specializes in breast cancer imaging at a private practice radiology group. —Mary Follin

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