February 13, 2024
wedding photos of two married couples

Whether they met on campus or attended as a married couple, these pairs journeyed through Rutgers Law School together and emerged stronger.

married couple in law school hoods in front of Golden Gate Bridge

Noreen Ahmed ‘20 and Robert Andrade ‘20

Noreen Ahmed and Robert Andrade arrived at Rutgers Law School in Camden from two very different places. Ahmed was a Rutgers University graduate and New Jersey local. Andrade was a San Francisco native who had already committed somewhere else when he decided to change course and enroll in Rutgers Law. What united them was their interest in the Minority Student Program (MSP), which offers legal skills development, academic support, alumni mentoring and networking, internships, and other opportunities to law students from underrepresented communities.

“I was a paralegal at the time I was making this choice, so I noticed that the law was not a diverse profession,” says Andrade. “MSP was something that pulled me to Rutgers and it didn’t disappoint. Plus, I got the most out of that program I could have ever asked for because I met my wife.”

That said, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. “Rob was this cool, aloof dude from California, and I thought he would be such a stereotypical west-coaster,” Ahmed recalls. This first impression wasn’t lost on Andrade. “I felt out of place with all these people from the New Jersey, New York, and Philly area,” he says. “But on an MSP field trip during our first year, I realized that the only person laughing at my jokes was Noreen.”

married couple in formal wear

Everything shifted after that field trip. The pair became fast friends, sharing an academic interest in employment law and finding themselves in many of the same classes. After a few years of friendship, they began dating during their 3L year, which Ahmed says was largely a benefit rather than a distraction. “It was nice being with someone who understood the demands of law school, the priorities I had, and the goals I had for my career,” she says. “He was someone I never had to explain myself to.”

They married in 2022 and moved to San Francisco, where they live with their two black cats. Ahmed is a labor and employment consultant for the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Andrade is the Title IX coordinator for the Palo Alto Unified school district. “Even today, we talk about Rutgers Law and its impact on our lives—not just because we got married, but because we had the pleasure of being really good friends for such a long time, went through school as individual students, and got together at the end of law school,” Andrade says. “We could figure out who we were first and then grow together.”

Mary ‘08 and Jeff Kopczynski ‘07

Mary and Jeff “Red” Kopczynski were high school sweethearts who reconnected after college and married in 2002. Living in Seattle, the pair had established themselves in their respective careers (Jeff was working in IT and Mary in nonprofit fundraising) when they decided they were ready for a change. They launched a nationwide search for a very particular kind of law school: one they could attend together and one that offered a dual degree program for Mary in law and global affairs.

“We ultimately decided on Rutgers Law School because of the community feel,” says Jeff. Mary recalls the exact moment it became clear that Rutgers Law was the right place for them. “I’ve known my husband since he was 14 years old, and he whistles when he’s relaxed,” she says. “I hadn’t realized it initially, but he hadn’t been whistling until we toured the last law school, and we both knew we were going to Rutgers.” The choice was clear: they uprooted their lives in Seattle and moved across the country to attend Rutgers Law in Newark.

They matriculated in different sections (“So we could learn from different professors and collaborate with different students, but still come together at the end of the day,” says Mary), and started their law school journey. Mary also embarked on a concurrent doctoral program in global affairs.

It wasn’t long before she received advice that would set the tone for the future of her career. “I was preparing to choose my 2L courses, and I asked Professor Claire Dickerson what classes I should take,” she says. “Her advice was to choose subjects that scare me and that I know nothing about, since law school is a safe place to learn and ask questions.”

mom, dad, and son smiling
Rutgers Law alumni Mary and Jeff Kopczynski and their son, Amir

Mary followed that advice, choosing courses on international banking, corporations, securities, and other financial and business topics. Utilizing this training, she’s launched two businesses: a consulting firm focused on regulatory crisis management and a regulatory alerting tool for software companies building compliance solutions. Jeff went straight into private practice after graduation, focusing on corporate litigation in the airline, technology, manufacturing, healthcare, and pharmaceutical sectors. The pair live in Hoboken with their five-year-old son, Amir, in the same apartment they lived in while attending law school, albeit a little larger after also acquiring the apartment next door.

“We have nothing but good memories of our time at Rutgers,” Jeff says. “It was a very supportive environment and I think, in part, that’s due to the professors and administration that work to foster that community. That doesn’t happen by chance. It’s promoted and encouraged and developed. The school has done a great job of building that community, and they should be proud of the work they’ve done.”

Rutgers Law Media Contact:
Shanida Carter

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