Siri Yenigalla and Dushyant Vipradas earned Computer Engineering degrees from UNT in December 2007. They met at in the College of Engineering at Discovery Park in late spring 2006 when Dushyant came to thank Siri for her assistance in arranging for a member of the UNT Indian Students Association (UNT ISA) to pick him up upon his arrival for the first time at DFW Airport.
“I already knew who he was from his photo. It was like destiny,” Siri recently recounted. “I knew right away that I liked this guy.”
Siri had arrived at DFW Airport four months earlier than Dushyant and was already serving in the UNT ISA, a student volunteer organization that reaches out to newly admitted Indian students while they are still in India, assists them with airport pick-ups, logistics, learning their way around UNT and Denton, navigating American and Texan culture, and connecting with other Indians.
It was the beginning of a love story, and soon after graduation, the two engineers married in India and began successful careers in Silicon Valley. Today they live in Fremont, CA. Siri is a Senior UX Architect at VUDU, a company known primarily for streaming of full-length movies over the Internet, and Dushyant works as a Senior Product Manager for Samsung Mobile. They have two sons, Jasith, who is almost five, and Mayan, who is nearly two.
Siri and Dushyant are one of three peer group couples who met at UNT, have strong ties to the College of Engineering, and remain very close friends more than a decade later. The six of them forged strong their strong relationships through the UNT ISA and their shared experiences as roommates. Five of the six are UNT engineers and the sixth, although not an engineer, earned a PhD and is now a college professor and academic in another field.
Roommates lead to friendships
Dushyant was placed in an apartment with Anuj Atri and Ashish Srivastava. Anuj had completed UNT Computer Science master’s degree in 2005, while Ashish had arrived in 2005 and was working on a Materials Science master’s degree. Both men had strong ties to the UNT ISA, and Anuj had decided to continue living in Denton while he began his professional career.
Anuj also had a UNT girlfriend, Aakriti Tandon, who had come to UNT in 2002 to pursue a BA in Journalism and International Studies.
“If I had stayed in India, I would have been an engineer or a medical doctor. That’s what my parents had planned for me,” Aakriti recollected. “I persuaded them to allow me to go to college in Texas – a place many Indians relate to. UNT was a good school for my chosen fields, not too expensive, and good weather. It’s a happy balance between California and the Northeast.”
Anuj would continue working as a software engineer in Dallas while Aakriti finished her UNT degree, graduating in 2007. Aakriti then continued on to earn her MA and PhD from University of Arizona in Tucson with field specializations in International Relations and Quantitative Methodology, and Anuj was hired as a Java Developer at Arizona State in Phoenix, continuing their relationship at a distance. In summer 2010, the two married in India.
“We have fond memories of UNT and wanted to settle in Dallas, but I got interested in an academic career, and we had to follow the opportunities,” said Aakriti.
Today, Anuj and Aakriti are living in Buffalo, NY, where he works as a Software Applications Development Team Lead for Fidelis Care, while also working remotely for Harris Corporation, and she is an Assistant Professor at Daemen College in the Department of History and Political Science. They have a four-year-old son, Ayanash, and an infant daughter, Aashna, born in August 2017.
A bucket of love
Ashish had known Anuj in India prior to becoming roommates in Denton. Although pleased to connect with Anuj again, Ashish chose to attend UNT for its materials science and engineering curriculum and research, and felt it was best aligned with his interests.
Ashish would soon meet Mansi Suratwala, a young Indian woman who arrived at UNT in 2006 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology, graduating in 2009. She would then go on to earn a UNT MBA in 2011. The two met through the UNT ISA while coordinating a few Indian dances for a festival demonstration, but did not begin dating until almost a year later.
Mansi, who had persuaded her parents to allow her to attend UNT since her older sister was already living in Euless, TX, became fast friends and roommates with Siri through the UNT ISA, where they served as vice president and president. Siri would also play a key role in bringing Mansi and Ashish together.
When Mansi returned to India in summer 2007 to visit her parents, she stayed in touch with Ashish as a friend via email and phone calls. While Mansi was away, Ashish asked Siri about unique ways to express his feelings for Mansi. Siri told Ashish about an old custom observed in some parts of India of dousing someone with bright colored water (colored by turmeric powder) as a sign of affection.
Ashish thought this was an interesting idea and expanded upon it by decorating a bucket with “I Love You” written in 100 languages. He also casually mentioned the custom to Mansi in passing in the hope that she would not be completely surprised when he executed his plan upon her return from India.
Then shortly after Mansi returned to UNT Ashish doused her with the bucket full of colored water. Unfortunately Mansi did not remember the custom Ashish had described and reacted instead with some of the choicest Mumbai curse words for him.
“Uh-oh, this really backfired,” Ashish recalled.
But after Ashish explained Siri’s advice and expressed his true affection for her, Mansi forgave the prank and welcomed a deeper relationship.
Ashish completed his Materials Science master’s degree in 2008 with Mansi finishing her undergraduate IT degree in 2009 and UNT MBA in 2011.
Ashish and Mansi would eventually be married in 2010 in Atlanta, GA. They continue to live in Dallas with Ashish working for AT&T as a Lead Product Owner / Analyst and Mansi working as a Senior Database Manager and Scrum Master at Fidelity Investments. They have a son, Vivan, who is almost five and another son, Viraj, who has just turned one.
Today, the couples remain united by deep bonds of friendship and their UNT experience. All of them were deeply involved in the UNT ISA with Siri, Mansi, Ashish, Aakriti and Anuj all playing leadership roles.