Two of Drake’s staff members didn’t even make it overseas before they were awestruck with each other. Senior admissions counselor Lilianna Bernstein and her husband Jarad, director of public relations and media management, fell in love in December 2004 after being stalled for a couple of days in the Los Angeles International Airport, both eagerly waiting to begin a 10-day journey to Israel as part of the “Birthright Israel” program.
“As far as I’m concerned, it was totally love at first sight,” Lilianna Bernstein said. “I thought he was cute and was already plotting my move. I remember being really excited to be sitting next to him for such a long international flight.”
She was a junior at Drake, and Jarad was a chaperone for her group. They immediately took notice of each other. But as luck would have it, mechanical malfunctions forced all the passengers to de-board the plane and wait for updates. A delay that was expected to last a few hours turned into several days, and the trip was cancelled. However, the couple kept in touch and eventually coordinated to try another Birthright Israel trip later that summer.
“By the time the trip was over 10 days later, we were completely in love. We maintained a long-distance relationship until I graduated from college and accepted a job at Drake,” Lilianna Bernstein said. “Jarad quit his job, packed up all his bags and drove cross-country to Iowa to be with me. He didn’t even have a winter coat.”
The couple dated for another two years before Jarad proposed to Lilianna in the Los Angeles International Airport terminal where the pair first met. They married in 2009, and the young woman who ran off with her chaperone now has a quirky story to tell when people ask how she met her husband.
“The fact that we both chose to be on that particular trip is proof that it was meant to be,” Lilianna Bernstein said. “I think we both knew on the day we met we were going to marry each other someday. It was definitely love at first sight.”