Finding Love at the Lake

A Note from the Director of Alumni Relations

I enjoy hearing a good love story. I especially enjoy watching one unfold right before my very eyes. I’ve seen couples fall in love at The Lake — and I’ve seen couples return to campus and reminisce about the sparks that flew on that first date.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, the Alumni and Family Relations Office is featuring stories of graduates who found “Love at the Lake” and got married.

There is no possible way to count the number of alumni couples who graduated and married. But after soliciting stories through social media, we are happy to share these tales that will warm your heart, and perhaps, cause you to take a romantic stroll down memory lane.

I trust you will enjoy reading these stories.

Happy Valentine’s!
Debora Guzman
Director of Alumni and Family Relations

Pete and Stephanie Perez

Stephanie-Pete-PerezHe recognized her from an OLLU mentoring program, a pretty brunette with a friendly smile. She was sitting in the library, alone at a table, when he summoned the courage to approach.

“May I study with you,” Pete Perez asked.

A little surprised, Stephanie Paz looked up shyly. “Yes,” she said.

They studied and chatted and left to attend their mentoring program, a meeting where upperclassmen help freshmen, like Pete and Stephanie, acclimate to college life.

In the fall of 2010, a friendship formed. In October, Pete took Stephanie to HemisFair Park and dinner at Sonic, their first date. They continued to go out, sometimes for a simple stroll.

“It happened a few weeks after the first date,” recalled Pete (BA Political Science ‘14). “We were taking a walk around campus late in the evening and it just happened. We finally kissed.”

Four years later, he proposed in front of his family and her family. On Jan. 9, 2016, Pete and Stephanie (BBA Business in Marketing ‘14) were married in Sacred Heart Chapel.

“It was truly special to have spent every Candlelight, Christmas celebration, community service project, and countless other events with each other at OLLU,” Pete said. “Although it was not always easy, we always knew we were right for each other. Today, Stephanie and I live happily in Houston, where I am attending law school at Thurgood Marshall School of Law and Stephanie works as a social media marketer.”

One memory stands out. On Feb. 4, 2011, four months after their first date, Pete intended to ask Stephanie to be his girlfriend. As they were driving that evening, however, the city was hit with a historic freeze. Sleet and ice caused the expressway to become slippery. The car in which they were driving skidded into a large pileup on Interstate 10 and Loop 410. Though they were not injured, a police officer drove them to the hospital.

“Throughout this craziness, I told Stephanie what my original plan was and she was happy and couldn’t believe it,” Pete said.  “She told me, ‘Well ask me.’ So I did, and we were officially together and never looked back.”

Seven years after they met, Pete and Stephanie treasure their time at OLLU and anticipate a bright future.

“It fill us with emotion to see that we are truly college sweethearts,” he said, “that met as two 18-year-old kids to the happily ever after we are building today.”

Marcus and Julie Thompson

Julie-Marcus-ThompsonHe played on the OLLU basketball team. She played on the softball team. In the fall of 2011, they were freshmen accounting majors who shared an acting class, and that’s when he took notice.

Marcus Thompson started chatting with Julie Ramos on Facebook. He asked for her number. She made him work for it.

“I am a hopeless romantic,” Julie said, “and I wanted him to confront me and give me his number. I told him that if he wanted my number he would have to write his number down on a piece of paper and hand it to me so I would be able to text him. He chased me down after our next class and handed me a folded up piece of paper.”

On Dec.12, 2012, he took her on their first date, a stroll along the River Walk to view the Christmas lights. Love began to stir. Over the next two years, their feelings grew, their commitment deepened and they distinguished themselves as Red River Athletic Conference Scholar Athletes.

They graduated in 2014, each with a BBA, and started graduate school at OLLU. On July 10, 2015, Julie’s birthday, Marcus set out a black dress, black heels and beautiful jewelry for his girlfriend to wear on a surprise date. Dressed in a Navy blazer, he blindfolded Julie and took her to the Tower of the Americas.

After Marcus parked the car, Julie removed her blindfold. When they reached the top of the Tower, she found herself surrounded by family. “I thought to myself, ‘How sweet,’” she said. “‘A surprise dinner.’”

Then Marcus dropped to one knee with a ring and proposed. Julie started crying. They married on January 7, 2017.

Before they exchanged vows, Julie earned a master’s in accounting in 2015, Marcus an MBA in management in 2016. Today, they are both accountants – Marcus for UT Health — San Antonio, Julie for Becton, Dickinson & Co. — and remain active in sports.

“Marcus plays flag football, basketball, co-ed volleyball and softball,” Julie says. “And I play co-ed volleyball and softball.”

They met in an acting class seven years ago. Four college degrees and 13 months of marriage later, Marcus and Julie have warm, magical memories. One day, they can tell their baby — Marcus Dwayne Thompson Jr. — all about them.

Alumni Donors: David and Geraldine Smith

Love at the Lake -David_GeriThe cupid-inspired brainstorm came to David Smith in the fall of 1999. Instead of requesting a date from that pretty girl he’d chatted with in the UWAC, why not invite her to join a club?

The idea calmed some of his anxiety but not all of it. Still, David pushed past his nerves and approached Geraldine Rodriguez.

Why yes, Geraldine said, she’d be happy to join “Students for Healthy Decisions.” Soon after, Geraldine dressed up as a life-sized cigarette butt for an event called, “Stop Smoking Day,” and that was the spark that ignited romance. “Ever since that humorous start,” David said, “Geraldine and I have been joined at the hip.”

Four years later, on Christmas Eve 2003, David (B.S. Electronic Commerce ‘02) proposed, a guy from a small country town outside Austin to a girl with a large family from Mexico. But first, he wanted to secure the blessing of Geraldine’s grandparents.

“Looking back, it must have been hilarious to see this kid who didn’t speak Spanish trying to explain to them in Spanish how much he loved their granddaughter and wanted to marry her,” David says. “I was pretty sure that I got their blessing but given how bad my Spanish was, I just as easily could have asked them if I could buy a toaster in Laredo.

“Fast forward a few weeks. Apparently the proposal had become the worst kept secret in the family. All night everyone kept fighting over who could sit closest to us for the front row view, which was quite funny in itself to see. Going traditional, just after midnight I got down on one knee and asked the question.”

They married in June 2004. At the time, Geraldine had one degree, a BBA she earned in 2002. But she went on to earn three more: an MBA in 2005, an MS in Organizational Leadership in 2007 and a PhD in Leadership Studies in 2011. Today she is director for North America Customer Service and Support at Pearson, Inc.

David and Geraldine serve the Leon Valley community – he as a Zoning Commission member, she as vicechair of the Economic Development and Advisory Committee. They have become vocal alumni donors.

“We give to the Lake because it is our home,” said David, the labor and payroll manager at Fiesta Texas. “We want the next generation to have the same support, experiences, guidance and quality education we had. We both received scholarships and assistance during our time there and we know how important that is. Geraldine and I feel it is our responsibility as alumni to provide for those who will come after us.

“The Lake holds a very special place in our hearts. The experience we had there shaped our future and laid the foundation for who we have become. We are blessed to have each other and are grateful to the Lake for being the place where it all started.”