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A man in a wedding suit jumping in the air and simultaneously high-fiving his bride.

Love Story: Learning to Fly

When Adnan met Christina, two people with their eyes on the stars turned their focus to one another.

June 11, 2018

Paula Ann Solis

When Adnan met Christina, two people with their eyes on the stars turned their focus to one another.

How’d you meet?

Christina: On the first day of a professional development program in Nashville, we did a teacher role-playing activity. I was sitting next to Adnan, and my role-play card read, "You are a ‘100 percent’ student. You follow directions and pay attention." Adnan showed me his card: "You are enamored with the person next to you and are trying to flirt with him/her while the teacher gives the lesson." He drew hearts on my paper.

Adnan: During an icebreaker activity, we played "Two Truths and a Lie." I found out that Christina got her pilot's license before she got her driver's license. I remember thinking, "Who is this person? I want to get to know her more."

Adnan Pirzada (Mississippi ’10) and Christina [Iatridis] Pirzada (Greater Nashville ’13)

Married: August 27, 2016 (the first part of their Islamic wedding ceremony, nikah); July 8, 2017, in Boulder, Colorado (civil ceremony); July 16, 2017 (part two of their Islamic wedding ceremony, walima).

Home: San Jose, California


Adnan is the founder and CEO of the edtech company Clarify. Christina works as an instructional designer at Newsela, a digital platform that provides instructional content.

What was the first date like?

Adnan: Christina talked about how much she likes food that matches the season, and how she was excited for a dinner that tasted like fall. I found a restaurant that had a perfect seasonal menu.

Christina: We ate butternut-squash-filled pasta and talked until the restaurant closed.

How did you know this person was the one for you?

Christina: Adnan quickly became my best friend. But it was when he came to Colorado with me for my sister's high school graduation that I could see us spending our lives together. Despite not being a runner, he eagerly joined my sisters and me for a 10K we do annually. He made me laugh the whole way, particularly when he stopped to enjoy a cupcake.

What trait do you love in your partner?

Adnan: Christina's dedication to always improving is infectious; you just want to be a better version of yourself because of her.

How did the proposal go down?

Christina: We flew to Colorado to introduce our parents over a long weekend. Before his parents arrived in town, Adnan took me to dinner at a restaurant that overlooks Boulder, my hometown. At the end of dinner, he proposed. The family introduction turned into a family celebration. We began planning a wedding that would blend our cultures.

Adnan: You'll have to take Christina's word for it. I blacked out due to excitement and nerves.

Adnan and Christina kicked off their wedding celebrations with a nikah, part one of their Islamic wedding ceremony.

Any special trips together?

Christina: We’ll be traveling to Italy in the fall for our delayed honeymoon. Italy is a special place for me; my grandfather is from there. I'm excited to share with Adnan parts of my heritage and family culture. I look forward to when I'm able to go to Kashmir, India, with him and see where he is from.

What’s your “couple thing”?

Adnan: The 1997 sci-fi movie Contact. When Christina brought it up, I was honestly just astounded other people had seen the movie, let alone that it had an impact on someone else's life. My inner voice was shouting, “You get me! You’re my people!”

Christina: When Adnan and I first had dinner together as colleagues, I referenced the movie as one of my favorites and a formative experience in my life. He pulled out his phone and showed me it was one of a few movies that he owned.

Adnan: I've always been fascinated by space and the idea of constantly looking upward. The movie explores the interplay and conflict between faith and reason and how faith can take many shapes, which is something very personal for me.

Christina: I was determined as a young girl to be an astronaut and be the first person to walk on Mars. I started taking flying lessons when I was 10, all with the ambition of becoming an astronaut. Jodie Foster's character in Contact is a brilliant, determined, and brave female scientist. The film both intrigued and scared me, so for the time being, I decided to stick to Earth. I still enjoy flying when I can.

What have you learned from each other’s families and cultures that you especially appreciate?

Adnan: Christina's family is incredibly thoughtful when it comes to supporting and celebrating each other. I've learned a lot about what it means to be a consistent and meaningful presence as a family member. I also get so excited to join in the family's wonderful Christmas traditions, from Christmas Eve dinner to the still-in-your-pajamas ceremony of unwrapping gifts Christmas morning.

Christina: I've learned a lot from Adnan's family about the history of Kashmir and Adnan's journey with his family to the United States. What I love and appreciate the most is how open and willing Adnan's whole family and the Desi community have been in welcoming, teaching, and including me in their lives and in Islamic traditions. From what we display around our apartment to how we celebrate holidays and more, we continue to grow and learn and form our own blended culture.

Any advice for other TFA couples?

Christina: Maybe avoid going on dates where you might run into students. Once, we saw one of my students at a family-style restaurant where we were going to be seated at the same table. My student became really shy and ducked behind her mom. To make her feel more comfortable, we let others go ahead of us in line so we wouldn’t be seated together. When I saw her Monday at school, she asked me why I was with Mr. Pirzada on a Sunday.

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