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Danya Perez-Hernadez and Kristian Hernandez have been married for seven years and are the only married couple attending the institute together. Molly J. Smith/NYT Institute

A Vacation for the Hernándezes

By the time most married couples hit the seven-year mark, they are usually in their mid 30s. They might be busy training their little descendants to go potty, or celebrating childlessness in expensive resorts in Hawaii.

That’s not how the Hernándezes do it. No, sir.

We are going old school, celebrating in our own kind of resort, the Coronado Residence Hall at the University of Arizona, second and third floor… Yes, we are living in a dorm.

I had never experienced life in the dorms, nor did I care much about missing that part of the college experience. But here I am — after seven years of marriage, five years as a homeowner, and one day after graduating from college, I arrived to my dorm.

For the last week and a half, I have lived with one roommate, shared a bathroom with two other semi-roommates and slept on a twin bed.

My husband enjoys the same accommodations in a dorm directly above mine and we text each other before we go to sleep and as soon as we wake up. We meet at the newsroom, or he picks me up and drops me off outside my door. Life is great!

In all honesty, life really is awesome.

My husband, Kristian, and I get to celebrate our seven-year anniversary and graduation with a two-week stint at The New York Times Student Journalism Institute at the UA. It can’t get better than that, right?

When we applied for the Institute we decided not to mention that our other half was also applying. We wanted to be chosen just as any other intern would, and it worked out!

According to the story I’ve heard, when they selected us no one noticed that we included the same address and each other’s phone number as additional contact information, until they were getting ready to contact us.

The dorm accommodations are very much part of this experience. We both get to carry ourselves as individual journalists. Not that we hate being an “item,” but we need to develop part of our journalism chops independently.

This balance has allowed us to work together on great stories in the past and compete directly against each other during previous internships.

Although I feel like one of these days I’m probably going to roll off the almost four-foot high bed in an attempt to hug my invisible husband, I am loving this vacation.

This is the perfect kind of retreat for these Hernándezes. We are working the entire day as journalists, stressing over deadlines, and we are completely surrounded 24 hours a day with people who share the same passion for journalism. I don’t want it to end!


  1. Fernanda Santos

    Adorable story, Danya. You and Kristian should be an inspiration to us all – for the strength of your marriage and friendship, and your commitment to journalism.

  2. Tania

    I almost cried, great story Danya, it has been a great journey for the rest of us that have been part of it too. Wish you both the best.