It is no secret that John Cabot University brings people together from all over the world. It connects students, bridges cultural gaps, and makes the world smaller. Many of the friendships and relationships built at JCU last a lifetime, and some of them even lead to marriage. This was the case for alumni couple Matt and Yulia De Bari.
Yulia was born in Moscow and spent her whole childhood in Russia. She went on a school trip to Italy when she was 14 and fell in love with the country. It was then that she decided she would definitely live there one day. She was drawn to the amazing weather and beautiful scenery. Matt is from Orlando, Florida, but has Italian roots. He had always been enamored by the idea of exploring his family’s background. This goal to live in and explore Italy is what brought him to JCU.
Beautiful Friendship to Lasting Love
Matt and Yulia met on the first day of orientation in 2012. They were also neighbors in the Gianicolo Residence during their first semester.
“We may not have known it at the time, but looking back, it is obvious to both of us that there was an immediate spark which led to a beautiful friendship, lasting love, and then marriage,” Matt explains.
They enjoyed spending time together in class, around campus, and around the city. They even took some trips together, enjoying multiple beach getaways in Sicily and other vacations around Europe.
Yulia majored in International Affairs with a minor in Communications, and Matt majored in History with a minor in Italian Studies. Although Matt and Yulia focused on different areas of study, they did get to take some classes together. In fact, one of their favorite JCU memories is spending time together one of Professor Wilcox‘s class. They loved that it gave them a good excuse to meet up outside of class regularly. They both, fondly remember spending hours together in the library, studying for final exams.
A Spontaneous Wedding
Matt graduated in 2015, a year before Yulia, and went to the UK to pursue a degree in law. While this time of separation and distance was difficult, it was nothing in the grand scheme of things. A year and a half later the couple reunited when Yulia came to the UK to pursue her Master’s degree.
Soon after their reunion, the couple went to visit Matt’s family in Florida for Christmas. While they were there, they spontaneously decided to get married. Yulia found the perfect vintage dress in a local boutique in Orlando, and Matt found a suit the same day. A day later they flew to Las Vegas and on January 8, 2018 the two got married on a cactus farm in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. Only both sets of parents knew about the wedding at the time. They spent their honeymoon skiing in Lake Tahoe, California, and driving down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Then the newlyweds flew to Moscow to celebrate with Yulia’s parents.
A few months later they had an Italian wedding in Fontane Bianche, Sicily, with all of their family and friends, including some JCU alumni.
“We can honestly say that JCU brought us together in a way no other place could ever do. Moreover, JCU’s inclusive and accepting environment instilled in both of us a desire to understand other cultures and to feel at home wherever in the world we are. Although Russia and the United States may be at odds politically and diplomatically, we will always see eye to eye and support each other. We owe this in large part to JCU and the values it taught us.”
Today the couple lives together in London.
After JCU, Yulia did a project management internship in the Near East, North Africa, Europe, and Central Asia division of UN IFAD in Rome, where she applied the skills she acquired at at JCU to real-world problems facing the organization. She then completed her Masters at Leeds Becket University in Peace and Development, submitting a dissertation on modern cyber warfare and its effects on international peace and security. Yulia is currently doing a four-month internship at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in New York. She attends high-level meetings with diplomatic officials and international civil servants. Upon her return to London in a few months’ time, Yulia hopes to work in the government, an NGO, or an international organization.
After graduating from JCU, Matt studied law at King’s College London. In his final year, he was offered a position as a Trainee Solicitor with the London office of the U.S. firm White & Case LLP, one of the world’s leading law firms with offices around the world. He is currently completing the final stages of his required vocational training and will begin working for the firm in the upcoming months. Upon qualifying as a solicitor, he hopes to specialize in international litigation and arbitration.
John Cabot’s Lasting Impact
Matt and Yulia both believe that their time at John Cabot and in Rome taught them many skills that they bring with them wherever they go. At JCU, they learned to be adaptable and flexible to situations and interactions that might feel strange, uncomfortable, or foreign. Their well-rounded education–both inside and out of the classroom–gave them the necessary skills to feel at home all over the world. Finally, JCU’s vast international network of alumni means they never go too long without meeting up with someone who spent time at JCU. This is great for them personally and professionally in today’s globalized world.