By Shiva Patro
Life changing events don’t happen everyday. And when they do, how often does one life changing event lead to another? I still remember the day I got my acceptance letter to USC. It turned out to be transformative for me, in more ways than one. Afterall, It’s not everyday you get to meet your soulmate and life partner. Like so many others before me, this university isn’t only where I got an education, it’s where a new chapter in my life really started.
A few years ago, I wrote a blog for the electrical and computer engineering department about my experience as an intern at Micron, a company that leads the way in innovating memory and storage solutions. That story, which you can see here, features a nice picture of me along with several of the other Viterbi interns. I had no idea at that time that one of those other students in the picture would end up as my wife.
I owe the life-changing event of meeting my wife to my decision to join USC for my Masters. Who would have thought that two people from the same state living just 100 miles apart, would meet and fall in love with each other in a whole different country thousands of miles from home?
I met Suchi for the first time at a USC meetup event in India in 2017. We instantly clicked as we came from the same Indian state – Odisha. We had both finalized going to USC Viterbi in 2018 for the Electrical Engineering master’s program.
Fortunately for my education but unfortunately for love, Electrical and Computer Engineering is a hugely diverse discipline. As school began, Suchi and I were headed for different specializations and had a different set of courses; I pursued a degree with a focus on VLSI while she was in the Machine Learning and Data Science track. As a result, we didn’t get as many chances to spend time together. But we did find some golden opportunities in the form of Viterbi events that I, as a VGSA Senator, had planned. From a hike in Canyon Falls to the latest Avengers Movie, there were a couple of USC facilitated hangout opportunities throughout our time at USC giving us a chance to bond outside of classes.
But the cherry on top was that summer internship at Micron that we secured through the Viterbi Career Fair. The internship gave us the opportunity to go from acquaintances to friends, to eventually more.
Micron provided us both with accommodation and rental cars for the duration of our program which was about 7 months, Summer Internship and Co-op. Suchi and I were both fairly new to driving cars, so we practiced driving together and carpooled to the office. In the office, we had a group of fellow USC interns to hang out with during lunch and coffee breaks. Outside of the office, we were searching for Full-time jobs. We prepared for that together by practicing our interview strategies with each other and reviewing our resumes. That gave us time to get to know more about each other. We didn’t even realize when it turned from enjoying each other’s company to falling in love.
Towards the end of our internship we had decided to be together. But despite our best efforts to start jobs in the same location, we both ended up choosing our full-time jobs in different cities. I decided to join Qualcomm in San Diego whereas she joined NVIDIA in Santa Clara.
While we started mentally preparing for the difficult long-distance phase of our new relationship, something happened. A global pandemic. Many of my international student colleagues felt the effects of being isolated from friends and family especially acutely. But for me and Suchi, the pandemic turned out to have a silver lining. In a way, our relationship was forged during this time.
Because of work-from-home protocols, I was able to move to San Jose to be closer to her and we got to spend more time with each other than we had originally expected. We became each other’s support through the pandemic and I cannot be grateful enough for that. After being together for more than a year, on Valentines day one year ago I proposed to her at one of her favorite beach spots, the Pebble Beach on 17-Mile Drive and she said YES!
And with that, 2021 turned into the most exciting year of my life! I changed my work location to Santa Clara and we moved in together officially. We got married in a dreamy beach wedding here in California in December of last year in the presence of our close friends and family.
Who would have thought that two people from the same state, growing up just 100 miles apart, would meet and fall in love in a whole different country thousands of miles away during a global pandemic? I owe the life-changing event of meeting my wife to my decision to join USC for my Masters. When I came to USC Viterbi I was promised a world-class education. I got that. I was never promised that I would also find true love. But I got that too.