Photo of Viral Mistry and Irene Prilutskiy posing together on their graduation day at CWRU
Viral Mistry (CWR ‘19) and Irene Prilutskiy (CWR ‘19)

Get to know some Spartan Sweethearts

Some love stories begin with grand romantic gestures. Others feature more unorthodox beginnings. But for Case Western Reserve Spartan Sweethearts of all eras, it has always come down to chemistry.

Photo of Michele and Howard Sands on their wedding day
Michele Sands (GRS ‘69, communication sciences) and Howard Sands (GRS ‘69, pharmacology)

In 1967, when Howard Sands (GRS ‘69, pharmacology) was looking for a break from the demands of his studies, he decided to attend a Hillel mixer. Not expecting to start a relationship, he thought he’d do a little dancing, but was only looking for one type of partner: someone at or below eye level. Fortunately for him, Michele Sands (GRS ‘69, communication sciences), met the requirement. 

“Howard, at 5 foot 5 inches, asked me to dance because I wasn’t taller than him,” said Michele, then an Ohio University student who had attended the dance at the suggestion of a friend. 

As their relationship developed, Michele chose CWRU for her master’s, allowing her to be closer to Howard. The couple later married and remained together for 52 years until Howard’s passing in 2021.

While distance, time, technology and even a pandemic have shaped the journeys of our Spartan Sweethearts, Case Western Reserve’s campus has remained a constant setting for love stories of all kinds.

A timely encounter at Taft

It was fall 2015 and Viral Mistry (CWR ‘19) was an apprehensive first-year student looking for someone to join him at a campus event. He stopped by his friend Jen’s room in Taft Hall, where she was unpacking boxes of tea. They struck up a conversation and soon they caught the attention of Irene Prilutskiy (CWR ‘19).

“Are you guys talking about tea?” Prilutskiy asked, poking her head in the door. As the trio continued chatting, Jen realized neither of her first-year friends had tried Mitchell’s Ice Cream and sought to remedy the situation. The evening turned out to be more memorable than any of them could have imagined.

Photo of Viral Mistry and Irene Prilutskiy as Irene shows off her engagement ring
Irene Prilutskiy (CWR ‘19) and Viral Mistry (CWR ‘19)

“I got the black raspberry chocolate and Irene got mint chocolate chip,” Mistry recalled, “which is still her favorite flavor. The three of us had a great time and Irene and I in particular hit it off instantly.” The two started dating that fall, survived two years as a long-distance couple during the pandemic and are now engaged, living in Chicago.

“I’m originally from the Philly suburbs, and Irene’s from the Chicago suburbs. Cleveland, funnily enough, is perfectly in the middle from our two hometowns,” Mistry said. “So it’s really fitting that we’ll always have CWRU and the city of Cleveland to thank for starting our story.”

These days, there are fewer serendipitous “meet cute” stories as the digital world dominates more of everyday life. But sometimes, social media and dating apps can find people who are already in each other’s orbit and bring them together.

Spartans swipe right 

In November 2021, Alex Weiss (GRS ‘22, genetic counseling) was swiping on Tinder when the familiar trill from the app announced she had a match: Christian Querrey (CWR ‘22). Weiss was in her second year of her master’s in genetic counseling and Querrey was a fourth-year undergraduate studying math, physics and music. 

Photo of Alex Weiss and Christian Querrey on their graduation day
Alex Weiss (GRS ‘22, genetic counseling) and Christian Querrey (CWR ‘22)

As they began exchanging messages, they soon realized they were both from the Chicago suburbs, with their hometowns just a half-hour drive apart. They crossed paths often over the spring semester, but graduation was on the horizon and the couple was destined to end up in separate places. Weiss had accepted a genetic counseling position in Illinois and Querrey was set to pursue a PhD in physics at Ohio State University. But even the distance couldn’t keep them apart.

In the bar at Dave’s Cosmic Subs—a haunt many alumni may remember as the Barking Spider—Querrey asked Weiss to be his girlfriend and she said yes.

“We fell in love at a bit of an inconvenient time,” Weiss said, “but it all worked out.” A new position at Nationwide Children’s Hospital brought Weiss back to Ohio, where she and Querrey live with their cat, Sky. 

Did you meet your better half at CWRU? Email with “Spartan Sweethearts” in the subject line to tell us your story!