Love in the first degree for DMU alumni Mike and Gemma

They say university is a life-changing experience, and that was certainly true for Michael and Gemma Gallacher.

They met on the first day of law school at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and quickly became friends, but romance did not blossom until two years after they graduated.

Now the couple are married and living in New York’s West Village, and have a beautiful son Bran, who is nearly one.

INSET MikeGemma copy

Mike, who works for Ernst and Young, said: “I first saw Gemma at the registration desks in the law building. I noticed her amazing curly brown hair.

“We first spoke in one of the large lectures (constitutional and administrative law). A friend from Gemma’s halls of residence was quite open and welcoming and started to pull me into a conversation they were all having. 

“We ended up remaining friends with most of the group (even today – some of them came to our wedding) and over the three-year course Gemma and I would sit together in most lectures. We became good friends.
They would put in hours of studying in a group at the library, although Michael admits Gemma was the more studious of the two– “she would still be there after I had finished my study and headed out”. Gemma’s studying paid off when she twice won end of year awards for achieving top marks.

Gemma also found time to get involved with DMU’s Street Law society and joined the client interviewing team. Her favourite lecturer was David Oughton, who taught commercial law: “He was a great advisor and became more like a friend over the course of the three years.”

After graduation, Gemma and Mike kept in touch and they started dating two years later when they both found themselves single and Mike moved to London, where Gemma was working. They married in 2013, with their close friends from DMU as guests at the wedding.

Mike had turned down a chance to move to the West Coast but, when the opportunity to live in New York came up, they decided it was “too good to pass up”. Working in The Big Apple is certainly different from life in the UK, says Mike.

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He said: “Working in the USA can be crazy and extremely demanding. People seem to be very intense, especially in New York.  Monday to Thursday is generally very long hours.  Fridays are when most people “step off the gas” and build to the weekend which is very much about family time and most people like to keep work and play very separate.”

Gemma and Mike say working abroad has given them a fresh perspective and helped their careers.

“We like the different cultures and each state is like its own little country.  You might wear a tie to a meeting in Boston but not in North Carolina.  I feel like the pace in the UK is a bit slower but also somewhat more efficient (not as many conference calls). 

“There is no doubt that working outside the UK has helped our careers and given us a new perspective on both how to do business internationally but also how we personally interact with colleagues in today’s rapidly changing world.”
But even though their lives today are a world away from their time as DMU students, they have fond memories of life at De Montfort – especially the theme nights at the old student union! 

“I had a great social life at DMU,” said Mike.  “I loved the fact the campus was in the City.  My degree helped me get where I am today, no doubt, but the memories and friends we made there are what stands out. 

“I used to love the old Student Union building before it was knocked down in 2003. But we still had some great times at the Big Cheese and Kinky Afro nights there.”

Posted on Tuesday 14th February 2017

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