Valentines: Elia Cholakis & Karen McKeever Cholakis

“Karen and I are made for each other—we’re both passionate about life and learning,” says Elia Cholakis, TSPPPA MPP ’05.

It’s no wonder that Elia and his wife, Karen McKeever Cholakis, GSEHD MA ’10, met as graduate students at GW.

Karen, a GW staff member in the School of Business since 2005, decided to take advantage of her employee benefits by pursuing a degree.

Elia was drawn to the school for its reputation as a national university and its location in the nation’s capital. “I knew the opportunities would be exceptional,” he says.

One opportunity that neither Elia nor Karen anticipated was meeting their spouse, but that’s exactly what happened in August of 2006.

Sitting across from one another at a school event, Elia and Karen struck up a conversation while waiting to meet with faculty members.

“Several days after our first meeting, I was sitting on a bench outside of Gelman Library and Elia happened to be across the street,” says Karen. “We shared the bench, more conversation and exchanged phone numbers. Elia called me later that evening.”

Several years after that first meeting, Elia proposed to Karen in their favorite restaurant, A Taste of Burma. “I gave her a handmade engagement ring from a jeweler in Leesburg, VA. The gem is garnet—Karen’s birthstone.”

Elia and Karen were married on Valentine’s Day in 2009.

Today, Elia and Karen live in the suburbs of Virginia with a son in college and a daughter in high school.  Karen still works for the School of Business as the program director for the MS- Information Systems Technology program’s executive and distance education formats.

Elia and Karen visit campus together frequently, attending Potomac Society receptions and other alumni events.

The pair continues to build their future, with plans to travel–visiting new cities as well as old haunts. And someday, they may take on a new business venture; one of their dreams is to own a winery, perhaps with a draft beer component.

Wherever they go and whatever they do in the future, one thing is certain: Elia and Karen are glad to have attended GW, and, most importantly, to have sat across from one other that day in 2006.

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