Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How Did You Find #UNOLove? Share Your Stories and Photos With Us.

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Thousands of interactions take place each day on a college campus.

Two students sitting near one another in class exchange glances. A freshman stops a junior to ask for directions. A professor calls on his colleague for feedback on a grant proposal.

Between the learning and the teaching, the socializing and the simple act of negotiating one’s journey down the path of higher education, some of these interactions are bound to spark romantic interest.

At the University of New Orleans, untold numbers of people have met their respective mates in the course of academic and professional pursuits.

In preparation for Valentine’s Day, we asked for your stories about UNO’s role in your own romantic lives. Here are a few we got from people who met and, surprise, fell in love—sometimes in spite of their strongest intentions not to.

Enjoy these snapshots of Privateer connections and then share your own.

Help us celebrate #UNOLove in honor of this Valentine’s Day by logging on to UNO’s Facebook page and sharing your photos and stories of how you met your significant other at UNO. On Instagram, use #UNOLove and also share with us on Facebook.


No Umbrella, No Problem

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The couple: Jessica (Hart) Stubbs and Mitch Stubbs (both B.S., ’94 and M.Ed. ’00)

How they met: Jessica Hart was getting frustrated with the time-consuming class registration process. She was 18 and it was 1989, back when signing up for classes at UNO meant standing in line and waiting to get a card punched. But there was one upside: the cute guy in line behind her who struck up a conversation. Jessica doesn’t remember what they talked about anymore. But she does remember this: A few days later she was standing inside the Liberal Arts Building staring out at the rain and thinking about the fact that she had no umbrella. Who should appear? It was Mitch Stubbs, a.k.a. Cute Guy From The Line, with umbrella in hand and an offer to walk her to her car.

When they knew: It took two years before Jessica and Mitch would start dating. She was an education major. He was studying biology. She was a commuter. He was a resident assistant at Bienville Hall. But about a year in, Mitch decided to change his major to education. They ran in similar social and academic circles. She liked his quiet humor and gentlemanly charm. He thought she was pretty and loved her wit. But every time he asked her out, she would decline. She always seemed to be dating someone else. One night, after going out with friends in the French Quarter, they had a frank conversation about their feelings for one another. By December 1993, one semester before they graduated, they were married. Since then, they have gone on to get two more degrees together. And we do mean together. Mitch walked Jessica across stage to retrieve her master’s degree from UNO in 2000 because she was so pregnant, she couldn’t see her feet to walk up the stairs. A few years later they continued the streak, getting their doctorates at The University of Southern Mississippi in 2012. “It was more a timing and support thing,” Jessica said. “We knew that if we took turns, someone may not finish because life gets in the way … I’ve never not graduated without him by my side.”

Today: Mitch is principal of Tchefuncte Middle School in Mandeville. Jessica is the resource helping teacher at Cypress Cove Elementary School in Slidell. The oldest of their four boys, Jack, 19, is now a mechanical engineering student at UNO. Mitch, who still laughs about how many times Jessica rejected him before she said yes, likes to tell his children they're "lucky to be alive." And as Jessica recounts their love story, it’s clear she feels a debt of gratitude to the Lakefront campus that made it all possible. “My life and career,” she says, “wouldn’t be what it is without my alma mater.”


A Cause That Led to Love

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The couple: Ally Daily (B.S., ’16) and Isaac Labbe (B.S., ’17)

How they met: Isaac Labbe was next up to introduce himself. He gave his name. Then, he pointed to the white letters “B-O-Y” stitched across his navy blue hat: “I’m a boy.” It was the first time the transgender teen from Ruston, La., had said it out loud to a group of more than one person. Ally Daily, then-secretary for UNO’s Unity Club, thought he was adorable. The year prior, Ally had sat on the same side of the meeting after enrolling at UNO from Iowa. Like Isaac, she’d come to UNO from a small town in Iowa because she’d learned about this club called Unity—an organization devoted to raising awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues and supporting the University’s LGBT community.

When they knew: Isaac jumped into Unity feet-first. When it came time to elect new officers, Ally ran for president and Isaac ran for vice president. Elected to their new seats, they began working closely together, seeing each other at meetings, collaborating on events like the Big Gay Talent Show. She liked his passion to reach out to transgender youth. When he shared his own story at the first outreach meeting he led, people cried. “I love you,” she said aloud in the meeting, when he finished. Isaac liked Ally’s dedication, her take-charge ability to get things done for the organization. He viewed her as the heart of the movement. Despite clear, mutual attraction, Ally had a hard time seeing how they could date without it affecting the club or the work they were both so devoted to accomplishing. “I was so anti-commitment at that point and I thought I was supposed to be focusing on school and Unity. And then I thought there’s no way I should be dating somebody on my (executive) board,” she said. That’s when Isaac decided to make an old-fashioned move. In October 2014, he just asked her to be his girlfriend. Ally deliberated over the proposition for a heart-wrenching few minutes before, she says, “I realized I was being stupid. I don’t want to lose him. He wants to be my boyfriend. That’s not really a bad gig.”

Today: Ally is an education major. Isaac is focused on American Sign Language translation. Ally knows she wants to stay in New Orleans after graduation and extend her outreach to LBGT youth locally. Isaac is also committed to supporting transgender individuals after college. But he was born and raised in Louisiana his entire life and knows he would like see other states. Neither of them can say now how their futures will play out. But right now, they love their love and their shared cause. They have a rule that when they walk into meetings, relationships are left at the door and the needs of Unity come first “I think we fell in love because of what we saw each other do in the club,” Ally says.


Minnesota Roots, New Orleans Love

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The couple: Steve Juliff (B.A., ’16) and Hannah Marcotte (B.A., ’15)

How they met: Her name badge said she was from Minnesota. And, yes, Hannah Marcotte, one of the student orientation leaders here to help new freshmen find their way, was, indeed, born in Duluth, Minn. But what the badge didn’t say was that she’d moved with her family to the New Orleans area before she could even talk. Still, Steve Juliff of Minneapolis, Minn., was impressed. She seemed bubbly, energetic, smart. And, you know, she was from Minnesota. She didn’t know this at the time, but Steve was usually quiet and reserved. So strange, in retrospect, she would think, that he would initiate such a conversation with her at all.


When they knew: Hannah was an English major and a resident assistant. Steve was a film major and, in January 2014, became a resident on her hall before also becoming an RA. Both stayed on campus through the summer. They started running together at night and sneaking into the Privateer Place apartment complex to swim. He taught her the zombie video game “Left for Dead”—the only one Hannah could get into. By summer’s end, they both know they were in love. Steve had never dated anyone before. He was of the opinion that if you were going to spend the time to date someone, it should be someone you could marry. Hannah, on the other hand, had had so many boyfriends through high school and college that her family knew something was up when she stuck with this one for more than five months. “We just kind of knew,” she says. On Hannah’s Halloween birthday, Steve snuck into her apartment, decorated it with lights and photographs and waited for her to come home so that he could ask her to marry him. They set a date for Dec. 18, 2016, the day after Steve graduates.

Today: Hannah is applying to graduate schools and plans to begin pursuing a master’s degree in student affairs this fall. She’s not sure where she will end up. Alabama. Texas. Baton Rouge. They’re all possibilities. She says Steve has been patient and supportive and has made it clear he’s willing to make a move wherever she plans to be. Some, she said, have questioned their decision to marry before she finished graduate school. But if they weren’t marrying, they’d still be moving together because, she says, they just know: “Why wait when you know you want to be together?”


Tom, Meet Dawn. Roger, Meet Venetia.

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The couples: Roger Boneno (B.S., ’91) and Venetia Julian; and Dawn Dewees Gilbert (B.S., ’91 and M.B.A., ‘94) and Tom Gilbert (B.S., ’91)

How they met: The joke was that Roger Boneno and Tom Gilbert were dating. They met at The Sandbar on campus and became best friends. They were both finance majors involved in student leadership. For four years, they hung out, doing the things college guys do. On Halloween night during their final semester, when Tom and Roger were out at a bar, Tom struck up a conversation with a girl named Dawn Dewees, another UNO finance major. Tom had seen her around campus before, but thought she was out of his league and presumed she was dating someone. By graduation that December, though, they were a couple. Enter Venetia Julian, Dawn’s cousin from Houston. Venetia traveled to New Orleans with her parents to celebrate Dawn’s graduation. Tom’s family hosted a graduation party for Dawn, Tom and Roger. “That’s the guy who got all the awards,” Dawn told Venetia, drawing her attention to Roger, who scooped up several honors at commencement. Everyone knew Roger was going to be moving to Houston. He’d already landed a job with Shell Oil there. Maybe Venetia could show him around Houston, their families suggested. Roger immediately liked her. He still remembers her red outfit and how he tried to hold her hand. But he’d also had a bit more to drink than usual—and perhaps he might have come on too strong when he asked to hold her hand. But his friends joke that he had a few qualities her Catholic, Italian family liked in spite of that. Roger was Catholic, Italian and he had a job.

When they knew: Within three months of Roger moving to Houston, he and Venetia were engaged. They married in May 1993 and, almost exactly a year later, Dawn and Tom married. They served as bridesmaids and groomsmen in each other’s weddings. They had their firstborn babies four days apart.

Today: Both couples live in the Houston area now, each with their two children—the oldest both boys, the youngest both girls. Tom works in insurance sales. Dawn is a health care finance consultant. Roger is vice president at Sunnova Energy. And Venetia is a preschool teacher.