No two love stories are alike, but many began or blossomed at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). In fact, there are more than 2,500 alumni who are married to each other. That number doesn’t even count the couples who are taking classes, teaching or working together at the university.
On this Valentine’s Day, some of these students, staff, faculty and alumni couples shared their love stories.
Danielle & Bruce Blanchard
Danielle: "It was Biology 101. I registered at the last minute for this class, and I happened to come strolling in late because life happens. I sat down in the front of the classroom, and we were doing introductions. Bruce said he was in the Marines and I was like, 'oh, me too!'"
Bruce: "We talked about where we were stationed and realized we were both stationed in the area of Camp Lejeune for about a year period at the same time. And we were curious if we ever crossed paths without ever realizing it."
Danielle: "I think we understood each other. We understood some of the struggles that we faced to kind of adapt to different environments. I think that was a lot of our foundation."
Bruce: "Being a Marine herself, she knows my quirks and why I have them. So, when she notices something... like sitting at a restaurant, she’ll be like, 'okay, I know I have to sit on this side because his back can’t be to the door.'"
Danielle: "But it all started here, and now we both work here! SNHU has literally been a foundation for us – between our educations, our careers, our family... we wouldn’t have (that) if it weren’t for SNHU."
Danielle and Bruce now work as academic advisors at SNHU.
Shannon & Brian Aja
Shannon: "Brian was at Daniel Webster College until 2017 when the school closed down and their students came over to SNHU. Brian and I both were a part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on our two campuses, and when Brian transitioned to SNHU, he became a member of the SNHU leadership team for InterVarsity with me and a few other students. We met at the summer leadership conference for InterVarsity and immediately became friends. It was only one month later when we started dating, one year after that that we got engaged and then 5 months later we got married!"
Elizabeth & Leah Richards
Elizabeth and Leah: "Leah got a job at SNHU in July 2010 and Elizabeth was hired 4 months later in November 2010. Over the past 9 years, SNHU has become our home. We’ve always worked together... We don’t know any different, so it never feels strange to us. Working at the same institution gives us a shared language, it means we can talk out problems we’re having at work together, and it means we get to watch each other shine professionally. It also means we can meet in the middle of the day for 5 minute coffee dates – a real treat when you have young children!
Elizabeth is the director of the Chandler Center, and Leah is the assistant dean of Student Success on campus.
Ashley & Nate Beckley
Ashley: “We met in 2006 when I was in college for the first time. Nate had left his university a few years back and had joined the Army. After his deployment in 2005, he got a part-time job, which is where we met. It was definitely a case of 'love at first sight.' We were engaged 8 months later, and just 4 months later we moved due to Nate's reassignment with the Army.
My schooling was put on hold as we learned how to be on our own for the first time together, and then as we grew as a family. Our first child was born in 2008,
another followed in 2012 and our last in 2015. Between babies and moves, there never seemed to be a good time for me to consider going back to school. Nate had returned, off and on, to try to further his Army career, but nothing stuck.
Finally, in the fall of 2016, we heard a commercial for SNHU, and I immediately got online and started picking Nate's brain for potential degree plans. We started the next term, with him working towards his communication degree and me toward my history degree. Over the past 2 years, I have changed my degree 3 times, but my ever constant husband is still working toward his communication degree.
It hasn't been easy. We've moved 3 times, I started working full-time again, and we still have our 3 munchkins running around, but SNHU has made the process so easy for us. We have had very accommodating professors, and our advisor has always had our backs, and we are extremely grateful all around."
Jen & Dave Kidwell
Jen: "My husband, Dave Kidwell, and I met at SNHU (then-New Hampshire College) when we were both (undergraduate) students living on campus. We started dating when we both studied abroad in London, England, the second semester of our junior year. Very romantic!
SNHU has been woven throughout our lives since we both stepped foot on campus as freshmen. For over 20 years, we have been getting together monthly with Dave’s fraternity brothers from SNHU and their families. The 6 adults and 6 kids travel together, have a monthly supper club and are best friends. Dave and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in July, and we will be going to Bermuda (where we honeymooned), and our friends will join us (no kids, just adults)! Dave and I have 3 incredible children, and our daughter is a junior at SNHU.
I call Dave 'the calm to my storm.' He is the rock of our family, supports anything and everything I want to do and is the best partner I could ever ask for in our life and family adventure!"
Dave: “My life is so much more fun, enjoyable and adventurous with Jen! I am so thankful for her energy and enthusiasm towards life."
Jen is now the assistant director of Online Engagement.
John Roos & Sarah Fey
Sarah: "We met Commencement Weekend 2018. We were both members of a social media group for 2018 graduates and had some planned gatherings for students to connect throughout Commencement Weekend. During Commencement, we were seated quite far apart, but John was filming a SNHU commercial and we ended up being paired up and exited the commencement ceremony together!"
There are many things that I love about John. A few of those are: he makes me laugh every day, his passion for American history is admirable, he always makes sure that I am happy and would do anything for me, he is a great communicator and he is also a great son, brother, uncle and friend."
John: "There are also many things I love about Sarah. She is sweet, kind and adorable. She is dedicated to everything she does and her family and friends mean the world to her. She is very caring and has a big heart. I love everything about her!"
Dan & Samantha Poulin
Dan: "We are so thankful to SNHU for providing us with a great place to work, and one where we can be in the same organization but have our own independent careers. SNHU has also allowed both of us to pursue graduate studies, with Samantha slated to walk in Commencement this year!
We were halfway through our master's programs and taking classes in tandem before our daughter was born. After she came, we took some time off and then had to rethink our approach to schoolwork. We strategized and developed a schedule so that one of us at a time would take classes and focus there while the other kept our daughter entertained. It has taken a team effort and we are excited at how close we are to achieving our goal together."
Dan is the director of Student Experience Support Services and Samantha is the senior assistant Registrar.
Jim Freiburger & Eleanor Dunfey-Freiburger
Eleanor: "We were each moving on from formal roles in the Catholic Church: he from the priesthood and I from the convent. We lived and taught high school in Burlington/South Burlington, Vermont for three great years, were engaged on Valentine’s Day and married in the Cathedral Chapel in Burlington in 1971...
We created our own (road map), making our way to Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. With 2 children, further education (and) experience in human resource management, we found New Hampshire College (NHC) with its entrepreneurial spirit and focus on teaching.
'Where the world comes to mind' was the college’s tag line... For the next 30 years and through the evolution of NHC to SNHU, that world came to our home... with students from New England and South Africa; the Maldives and Sweden; El Salvador and Malaysia; Turkey and Russia.
What did love look like in those years? Potluck supper classes and conversations – learning beyond the textbook; neighborhood block parties and teenage social calendars. In our kitchen, there were the tears of brokenhearted refugee students longing for their homelands, a country to call their own. In our living room, the celebration for a 26-year-old exiled South African – the first birthday party of his life. In our backyard, a celebration of newfound love at a Thai wedding.
Valentine’s Day? Oh yes! It was those amazing students from our U.S. communities and from around the world that, together, became the heart of our family circle and taught us what real love is."
Both Jim and Eleanor are emeritus professors, and Eleanor now volunteers with the Global Citizens Circle, Chandler Center and Deborah L. Coffin Women's Center.
Alicia & Brian Hannigan
Alicia: "Brian and I first met during an end of the year training for the Peer Advising Leader Program (PAL Program). The group was playing 'All My Friends and Neighbors,' with Brian and I both ending up in the middle! We had to come up with a mutual interest we shared as a part of the game. I suggested liking the Red Sox, but being from New York, he was a Yankee fan. This is when I first learned about his poor taste in sports teams. When we came back to school that fall, we met again when we realized we were both Presidential Ambassadors.
However, whenever Brian and I think of when we really started to get to know each other, it was on an Alternative Break trip we took to New Orleans that winter. The trip was January 2015. We spent one week with a group of our peers, focusing on community rebuilding and volunteering in the Lower Ninth Ward. Brian and I just clicked so easily! We both have memories of staying up late in the cottage playing chess while everyone else went to bed after a long day of work, or cooking meals in the kitchen when it was our turn to make dinner. After we got back from this trip, Brian and I started to spend much more time together, and now we can call ourselves newlyweds!
When we first started dating, it was funny to hear our SNHU community banter for 'taking credit' of getting us together. Was it PALs, Ambassadors, Alternative Break? To us, it was all 3."
Alicia is now an adjunct psychology professor.
Philip & Sheena Noyes
Sheena: “My husband and I met at a New Year's Eve party my sister had back in 2006. We started dating January 24, 2007, and were married in April 2008. By 2014 we had 3 kids and I was looking for a way to make the most of my free time while I was at home with the kids all day.
In August 2014, I saw a commercial for SNHU and decided to apply. In 2016 my husband decided to apply as well so he could further his career. He's working on a bachelor's in information technology (IT management) and I graduated last spring with my bachelor's in psychology (child and adolescent development). We're on different paths academically, but we have taken some of the same courses (statistics, humanities, mythology) and are a constant source of encouragement for each other.”
Sawyer Fournier & Frank Pellumbi
Sawyer: “We met our third day of college in SNHU 101. Since then, we have embraced our crazy journey together, encouraged each other to break out of our comfort zones, overcame so many obstacles that life has thrown our way, discovered our passion for spontaneous adventure and became stronger than we ever imaged we could be. His sense of humor and my daily life quotes continuously help us focus on the positive, simple and meaningful aspects in life.
We proudly reached a huge milestone and graduated together 4 years later. Frank then surprised me with the most beautiful dream proposal in Santorini, Greece on Aug. 8, 2018. He is now serving in our U.S Air Force and I am a reading teacher. We will be getting married on our 6 year anniversary, Sept. 28, 2019, and we will then begin our new adventure together!”
Matthew & Catherine Haefner
Catherine: “My husband, Matthew, and I are not only SNHU advisors, but we met at SNHU! We first met in the old Grad Annex at the Millyard. On our first official date, we went bar hopping in Manchester when another advisor crashed our date. It’s one of the best memories we have. Fast forward a few years, we were married this past October on Friday the 13th.”
Matthew and Catherine now work as academic advisors at SNHU.
Michelle Hegenauer & Anthony Angelesco
Michelle: "Anthony was a junior, and I was a sophomore when we met in September 2015. We had both last minute decided to attend a Kappa event. It was chance that brought us together because we had no classes together, we didn't know the same people and we lived on opposite sides of campus. We slowly started to hang out more and more before we became official in November... These 3 years have been amazing for the two of us, and we owe it to SNHU for bringing us together."
Rebecca LeBoeuf ’18 is a writer and editorial coordinator at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.