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‘Beyond, Beyond Thankful’: Meet #NCState21 Best Friends Sara and Justin

As part of our graduation video series, we caught up with two best friends whose strong bond has blossomed into a three-year relationship.

Sara Altman and Justin Mason share a hug while wearing their graduation caps and gowns. Play Video

When Justin Mason started his college career as an out-of-state student from Atlanta, Georgia, he wasn’t sure if NC State was the right fit. 

“I didn’t really know anyone, and a lot of the students here come from North Carolina, so they kind of already have their group of friends from high school,” he said.

Then he met Sara Altman.

“You’re the first person I met who made me feel like NC State really could be my home,” Justin said. “You introduced me to your friends, and suddenly I didn’t feel alone anymore.”

The Engineering Village brought them together their freshman year, and their group of friends grew from there. Justin joined Sara on the rowing team. They bonded over their love of “Star Wars,” Wolfpack sports and Howling Cow ice cream. But over time, it became clear that they were more than best friends. 

“We just kind of hit it off,” Justin said. “I asked her out, we went on a date and now we’re dating. And here we are three years later.”

A lot has changed since they first met in Metcalf Hall. Justin switched majors from engineering to business administration, and with the encouragement of Sara and his friends, he forged his own path at NC State.

“I’m really proud of how you’ve become your own really strong person,” Sara said. “You’re a Chancellor’s Aide, university ambassador, Poole College ambassador. You’re a huge representation of NC State, and you go out of your way to really share that with potential students.”

The two worked together to plan their study abroad experience in Ireland for the spring semester of their junior year. 

“That was so overwhelming, and I’m beyond, beyond thankful that I had you with me,” Sara said. 

Then, the pandemic hit. 

“I think right around St. Patrick’s Day is when State recalled us and told us we had to come home,” Justin said. “Life has definitely been a lot different, but I think we’ve done a good job making the most of what we had.”

For Sara, a computer science major, it’s the little things that have kept her going.

“I remember once, I was working on this project and I was so frustrated and I was crying. And you baked me cookies and you left me a little note,” Sara said. “I feel like we’ve had that support for each other even before we were all online.”

Now as the couple prepares to graduate, they’re ready to transition to the next chapter of their lives as they move in together in Charlotte.

“We’re going to start our professional careers and our lives together,” Justin said.

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