Colgate Love Stories: Yinka Morayinko-Barnes ’15 and Alex Morayinko Barnes ’15

Winter 2024

Better Together

It wasn’t long into their relationship before Yinka Morakinyo-Barnes ’15 and Alex Morakinyo-Barnes ’15 realized how well they worked together under pressure. 

It was Valentine’s Day 2015 and their second official date. After a romantic fireside dinner at the Copper Turret in Morrisville, the couple found themselves stuck in Alex’s Chevy Malibu, which had stalled on the top of a hill — during a snowstorm.

“We didn’t panic. Alex got out to push while I drove the car,” Yinka recalls. “It was our first test of working together in a challenging situation, and we were both surprisingly calm.”

They got the car moving that night — a bonding moment that also helped move their relationship forward.

Alex and Yinka had met during their FSEM in fall 2011, though their vastly different majors (neuroscience for Alex; a double major in peace and conflict studies and Middle Eastern studies for Yinka) meant that they had rarely crossed paths on campus. But by senior year, they reconnected through mutual friends. 

“We started talking and realized there was something more there,” says Alex.

Their compatibility, they explain, is a classic case of opposites attract: Yinka, a self-confessed “type A” complements Alex’s more laid-back personality. “Alex is a very calming presence, and I just felt better when I was around him,” says Yinka. And for Alex, Yinka’s drive and ambition “inspired me to be the best version of myself,” he says. 

Soon after graduation, the couple secured jobs in Washington, D.C., and moved into their first apartment together, Yinka working for a staffing agency and Alex working as a clinical research coordinator at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. But three years later, they were ready for their next adventure. 

“We felt stuck in the city. It’s a very work-centric culture in D.C., and we wanted to be outside in nature,” says Yinka. “Neither of us had been to Colorado before, and it just felt right.”

They signed an apartment lease sight unseen and moved to Denver, where they lived for four years, enjoying outdoor sports and weekend hikes — crossing mountains off a spreadsheet Yinka had developed to ensure they didn’t miss any of the Rocky Mountain State’s best views.

It was on a hike, in fact, that Alex popped the question. While Yinka knew their relationship was headed in that direction (they had already browsed rings together), the proposal was still a happy surprise. 

So began the search for a perfect wedding venue. They had envisioned an outdoor space in Maryland or Rhode Island, making it easier for family and friends to attend, when a beautiful walnut tree sold the couple on the venue they ultimately chose — a farm near Yinka’s hometown in Frederick, Md.

“We knew the tree had to be the backdrop for our ceremony,” she says. Alex agreed that the bucolic setting was the perfect fit for their May 2021 wedding, an outdoor celebration with plenty of Colgate friends, family, and chilly weather.

“I think it was the coldest May on record in Maryland,” says Yinka. “But nobody seemed to care. It was perfect.”

As they had planned their wedding, Yinka and Alex were also making other big plans — for a move back east. They wanted to put down roots, and they both agreed it was hard to imagine starting a family so far from their parents and friends. 

By spring 2022, they were back in Maryland, this time as homeowners in suburban Columbia, and, according to plan, Yinka and Alex soon expanded their family. They welcomed baby Zakai in September 2023. 

After nearly a decade since the snowy Valentine’s Day car fiasco, the couple finds they still work well together in challenging situations — including, most recently, the ultimate challenge of new parenthood. 

“We split things pretty 50-50 and take turns sleeping next to the bassinet,” Yinka says. “It’s been difficult, of course. But pretty incredible too.”