One fateful night many years ago, Matthew‘10 was carpooling back home from a Senior Council event, and Natalie‘13 hopped in.
It wasn’t love at first sight. The car ride was so awkward one could only hear teenager Matthew whispering a lot of “indeed”.
Interestingly, they both did peer mentoring and rock climbing in high school. Matthew was on the Debate Team and Student Council, while Natalie helped form the student-led Handball Club and was heavily involved in the Drama Club. (Fun fact: Matthew was classmates with Natalie’s older sister Amanda.)
Reflecting on their time at SJI International, Matthew has this to say: “SJI International taught me to be more outgoing and sure of myself. I used to be shy and reserved – although I am still an introvert. Attending SJI International also ignited my love for service, as I knew I wanted to do work that would benefit people’s lives. Hence, I went into Civil Engineering to eventually assist with the construction of water systems in developing nations.”
“The IB programme helped to prepare me for university – sometimes I found IB subjects even more challenging than some of my college classes. It also taught me to challenge myself and realise that the value of education is in the learning process itself,” Natalie added.
Years later, they met again – officially and less awkwardly – at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where they both went. Funnily enough, Matt saw Natalie as she came to the dorms on move-in day, but he was ignored.
Introductions waited for a bit before they eventually connected, and they started being friends in their own right. They were both heavily involved at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center, where they helped facilitate and lead retreats for students interested in learning about the Catholic faith or growing deeper in their faith.
“Our friendship consisted mostly of attending theatre shows, talking about various anime and laughing about puns. Two years later, we started dating. And the rest is history,” the two alumni shared.
They are now back in Singapore for good, happily married. Matt works at PUB as a Drainage Construction Engineer, while Natalie is a Youth Coordinator at the Church of St. Ignatius. In February 2022, the family welcomed a new addition with an adorable daughter named Chiara.
“We’ve been married since 2019 and still love it! Marriage truly is a beautiful Sacrament where you discover how selfish you are and how you should give of yourself to each other. It is amazing and the most challenging thing we have both faced! We don’t think we’ll recommend getting married and moving across the world and into your in-law's place within two months... but communication is important, and making an effort to have date nights. Quality time together is key as well,” Natalie said.
We’re not saying SJI International brought Matt and Natalie together, but we did. And we’re quite proud of it.