Gabriel Stulman: I found family, community and support at UW–Madison

Whoever managed UW–Madison first-year residence hall room placements ahead of the Fall 1998 academic year deserves a raise, according to Gabriel Stulman.

Headshot of Gabriel Stulman
Gabriel Stulman (’03)

It was in that hall with a group of strangers from all over the world that Stulman (’03) made some lifelong friendships, including his close relationship with his roommate, Virgil Abloh, who would go on to become a world-renowned fashion designer and entrepreneur.

“Somebody curated our floor and it shaped my life,” Stulman says. “The people that I met on that floor in that first week, in that first month, became my best friends. They were the people that stood up by my side 15 years later when I got married.”

Now an incredibly successful New York restaurateur whose Happy Cooking Hospitality business (which he founded in 2009 along with fellow 2003 UW–Madison graduate Matt Kebbekus) is known as “Little Wisco” because of all the Wisconsinites on staff, Stulman credits UW–Madison and the relationships he developed as an undergraduate student here with setting him up for his post-collegiate success.

“(The) most important thing that I got out of Wisconsin was lifetime friends,” he says. “I got family, I got community, I got support.​”

Note: Photography for this film was completed before the COVID-19 pandemic and implementation of public health guidance for physical distancing and face coverings in the U.S.

Title image showing the words "Why I Love UW" float over a wide view of the Wisconsin Capitol building with people walking on State Street below.This is the third in a series of short films titled “Why I Love UW,” created by award-winning filmmaker Alex Miranda Cruz of Bravebird, and produced by the UW–Madison Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement. 

The films, which were commissioned in the spring of 2019, feature the voices of diverse alumni describing in their own words how UW–Madison changed their lives.

Watch the full series at