Hallie and Shawn Higbee, both EMBA 17s, fell for each other during the first months in the program, while running the trails above campus in the mornings with their classmates.
“When the group didn’t go, we ran together,” says Hallie, an account relationship manager at healthcare startup Welltok, Inc. “We were the same pace.”
This is a fact that Shawn disputes. “She is faster than me,” says Shawn, an associate program leader in flight systems at Lawrence Livermore Labs.
Those morning runs and the classes they took together, including Jennifer Caleshu’s Building Trust-based Relationships, drew the couple closer. By the time the EMBAs headed to Napa Valley for a leadership immersion at the end of the first block, they were dating, a relationship that led to marriage at the Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland on Oct. 13, 2017.
“We had so much shared experience from running and being in class together,” Hallie says. “We became better friends through that process—learning the same things, knowing the same classmates, feeling connected to Haas, and having social engagements together.”
Shawn says he fell for Hallie, mom to Lucy, 5, and Caroline, 3, because she’s a combination of “an amazing person as well as an amazing mom of two kids. Getting to see all of those things together really drew me to her.”
“I think, really, it’s just the way she approaches life with this really generous spirit and trying to bring love and celebration of the people around her. This is the person I wanted in my life and fell in love with.”
When they finished the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program last year, the couple bought a house in Albany. While tackling the paperwork, and contemplating why they were still single, Shawn proposed, sort of, at Fieldwork Brewing Co. in Berkeley.
“We make all of our life decisions at Fieldwork,” Hallie says. “We grabbed a beer and were talking about why weren’t we married. Should we be? It was like ‘OK….We already made this massive commitment to the house and were buying a house. There’s no reason to not be married.’ We decided to elope. That was a Wednesday. I called my parents and I said: ‘How about Friday?’ ”
Hallie donned a dress and headed to the courthouse for a civil ceremony with Shawn. After lunch, they headed to Haas in time for their 4:30 class.
They celebrated on campus, where a program event for the EMBA class was underway. “Between Game Theory and our Executive Leadership class we had our honeymoon at the Durant Hotel with our classmates.”
Hallie says they wanted to subtly let people know they’d married, so she changed her name on Facebook. But their classmate, Tansy Brook, had another idea: She announced their marriage to the Game Theory class.
“Everyone was super lovely about it,” Hallie says. “We call ourselves a family.”
In June, the couple plans a grander marriage celebration at their new house, including their EMBA friends. “Our classmates have been super great about us,” Hallie says. “This group really draws people together.”