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Did you know that nearly 40 percent of our students are married or have a partner accompanying them as they embark on their MBA journey? Our Joint Ventures club is the official group where students’ partners (JVs) can create a community and participate in other activities including professional development and meaningful volunteer opportunities. 

This Valentine’s Day, we’re sharing stories from campus couples who are going through the b-school experience together. Read on to meet one such couple and learn why they say that JVs can be just as involved as students.  

Meet Kevin Fritz ’23, a One-Year MBA student, and JV Valerie Liang 

Hi there! We’re Kevin and Val, and we moved to Evanston from the Boston area, where we both lived previously. Despite going to the same school at Boston College and living in the same city, we didn’t cross paths until a few years later, when Val started hosting trivia as a side gig at a local bar in Boston, and Kevin would come and put his extensive inventory of random facts to good use.   

Kevin is a student in the One-Year MBA Program, and Val works at a tech company that builds software for healthcare marketing. Luckly, she can work from home which made our move to Evanston easy. Kevin’s background is in the medical devices industry, and on campus he’s involved in the Kellogg Student Association, Kellogg Marketing Club and Brew n’ Que.   

Choosing to pursue an MBA full-time at was a significant shift for both of us. We had lived in Boston for a considerable time, and we were accustomed to our jobs and living situation. That said, earning an MBA has been a goal of Kevin’s for many years, and we knew it was simply a matter of finding the best timing to apply and make the switch. It was a running conversation between us since the early days of our relationship – we both made it a priority to be in lock step on what mattered most in making such a significant life decision.   

How we chose Kellogg 

We also knew it would be a great opportunity for us to try a new city together. Kevin prioritized MBA programs based on not only the quality of the program but also the location. We came up with a list of places we’d enjoy living, and then came the fun part: late nights of GMAT practice problems, driving Kevin to and from the GMAT exams and meticulously poring over application essays.  

When Kevin got his acceptance to Kellogg, it was a no-brainer that we were moving to Evanston. Not only is it one of the top MBA programs in the country, but also has the most supportive and inclusive community for partners. Not every school has this level of commitment to making sure partners of students feel supported, so we feel very lucky to have this network!  

The Kellogg JV experience 

There’s a running joke around Kellogg that there are certain JVs who most people just think are students. Val is very much the embodiment of that, which has made our time at Kellogg truly feel like a shared experience. Not only has she regularly introduced us to new people at Kellogg, but Kevin has had the opportunity to attend events hosted by student organizations she has a leadership role in. Fun fact: JVs can be on the executive board of any club at Kellogg! 

Many professors are open to JVs sitting in on class, sometimes for the entire course and other times for individual sessions. Val took an entire course in the fall quarter, and then she recently sat in on a session for a course Kevin was enrolled in for the winter quarter. 

Integrating life and school 

Supporting one another is something we try to integrate into our daily lives. Our schedules during the week can differ greatly, as Val’s job follows standard working hours, while the Kellogg class, group project and event schedule tends to be less standardized. This enables both of us to step in and help the other out during busy times.  

We also make a point of attending events together as much as possible and setting aside time for just us to spend together. The fact that we’ve been able to truly experience this year together has made it that much better!   

Kellogg couple Kevin and Valerie at a Northwestern basketball game
Taking a study break, One-Year MBA student Kevin and JV Valerie attend a Northwestern basketball game.

In the hot seat: 

What’s your favorite date night in Evanston/Chicago?  

  • Val: Trying a new restaurant in the city or exploring a new neighborhood. Also being in Chicago has allowed us to try Michelin-star restaurants — something we weren’t able to do in Boston!   
  • Kevin: Ice cream! There are so many great options in Evanston and in the Chicago area: some favorites include Jeni’s Ice Cream, Oberweis, Lickity Split Frozen Custard and the iconic Midwest establishment Culver’s.   

What's your favorite place on campus?  

  • Val: Biking to the Lakefill along Lake Michigan, or Deering Meadow. Both are great places for hammocking.
  • Kevin: If you go to the 2nd floor (or above) of the Kellogg Global Hub on a clear day, you’ll see an incredible view of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan.   

If there was a movie, show or song that describes your relationship, what would it be?  

 “Happiness” by the 1975. It always puts us in a happy mood! 

What’s a quality you admire in each other?  

  • Val: I love how Kevin puts 110% into every event, club, or class he’s involved in. You can tell how genuinely excited he is about things.   
  • Kevin: Val is always looking to take on something new. She planned a retreat to Western Michigan for the JV club, joined the committee to help with logistics for Kellogg Ski Trip, took a Kellogg class last quarter and explored local activities in the community such as cake decorating courses. All of this is on top of her day job.   

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a couple going through an MBA program together?  

We’ve learned to make time during our schedule for impromptu activities, instead of trying to plan every day of the week. It is impossible to get bored at Kellogg with the amount of programming always going on. We have had some of our best memories over the past year at events that happened without an advance plan.  

Read another MBA couple's story and what they’ve found helpful in supporting one another in this new phase of their lives.