High School Romances That Defied All Odds

These high school sweethearts have miraculously stayed together through their time at NYU.

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Talia Barton

Steinhardt seniors Brianna Dishman and Zach Gulino join hands in the park. (Photo by Talia Barton)

By Alex Tran, Contributing Writer

The rush of being a new college student can often erase the person we were in high school. The barrage of assignments makes you wonder why you were so stressed about the SATs. Jungle juice-laden frat parties wipe all memories clean of ginger ale prom nights. Yet for some, the array of new hotties cannot sway their feelings for their high school sweethearts.

While most high school couples have to go through some forms of separation, Steinhardt seniors Brianna Dishman and Zachary Gulino experienced a fairy tale romance of sorts when they were accepted into the same school. Soon to celebrate their five-year anniversary, they acknowledge they have been lucky.

“We were fortunate enough to both be accepted into NYU together,” Dishman said. “Our freshman year, we both got put in the same dorm even though we chose totally different ones, on the same floor, right across the floor from each other. It was insane.”

With good fortune on her side, Dishman expressed cynicism toward long-distance couples, saying that she wouldn’t be able to sustain a relationship from afar. Steinhardt junior Brennan Stack has a different outlook.

After re-signing the lease for her Brooklyn apartment with her fiance, Stack is living the dream after her engagement in Venice. Yet things haven’t gone completely without a hitch. With a two-year difference in age, Stack had a rough time saying goodbye during her high school years when her now-fiance left for college.

“He went to Ohio University, which is an hour away from where we lived, so I saw him about once a week,” she said of her junior year in high school. “After that, he decided to move to New York, and I saw him about once a month.”

Stack reflects upon the period as a vital milestone on her journey to engagement.

“We weren’t sure whether we were going to stay together. We had to decide, if we stay together, we’re no longer kids just dating. This is a decision to stay together and become partners,” she said. “Ultimately, I think those kinds of things are what made us get to this point.”

In contrast, Dishman and Gulino also went through rough times under the pressures of college life despite their seemingly perfect circumstances. Dishman reflected on the adjustment period when they arrived in New York City.

“Our first two years at NYU, it was really hard finding time because we were still adjusting to college,” Dishman said. “All of my classes were at night, and most of his classes were during the day, so even though we live across the hall from each other, it was really hard to see each other that often.”

Because of these ups and downs, the two couples both place heavy emphasis on communication and self-improvement as the keys to maintaining a relationship. After gaining these skills, issues can be easily resolved with a combined effort.

“All those things that we had that were important like support and communication skills come from bettering ourselves,” Stack said. “We got to a point where when we’re arguing or when there’s a fight, it’s not me versus him, it’s both of us versus the problem.” 

Not everyone finds a serious long-term love before college. For first-years and sophomores who are still happy in their high school romances, the advice from these couples is to be appreciative of that one person by your side, reassuring you amidst the craziness of NYU and New York City.

“It’s going to take some frustration and stress and introspection,” Dishman said. “But at the end of the day, if you really do feel like you love this person […] you’ll find ways.”

Email Alex Tran at [email protected]