Alumni Love Stories

We asked for your stories, and you came through! These 20 alumni couples recall their Columbia College Chicago love stories just in time for Valentine's Day. 

Rachel and Jonathan Williams

Rachel Williams '07 and Jonathan Williams '07

My husband Jonathan and I met in Michigan at Grand Rapids Community College. Years before we met I knew I would be going to Columbia College Chicago to study writing and producing for television. He wanted to study film and was thinking of going to another school in Kentucky. I told him about the awesome Film department at Columbia and invited him to come with me for a tour. I managed to change his mind and we both attended Columbia from 2005-'07. We graduated in December of 2007 and got married the next summer. We've been married for 10 years.

Weston and Jenifer Maggio

Weston Maggio '94 and Jenifer Huber Maggio '94

My wife Jenifer and I started seeing each other in the second semester of our senior year at Columbia in 1994. We celebrated our 21st year of marriage this past October.

Jenifer was a design major and I was studying to be a commercial illustrator. We had some mutual friends that brought us into a new circle nearing the end of the first semester of our senior year. When we started the second semester, we found out that we had a Poetry class together. After that first class, I followed Jen to her next class. (Another poetry class.) I ultimately dropped the class that I had missed that day to take that second poetry class with Jen! Over the course of the semester we became close friends—ok, you could say that I pursued her. We went on our first date in May, and by graduation, we were a thing! We married in 1997.

Theodore Berry and Krystal Metcalfe

Theodore Berry '10 and Krystal Metcalfe '08

We've been together 12 years and married for eight. Our love began in the University Center. We lived across the hall from each other while both attending Columbia College Chicago. Krystal's drummer (Paul) and Berry were roommates. Paul introduced us and we've been inseparable ever since. Berry knew Krystal had his heart after she cooked for him in her dorm room: okra, grilled chicken, and Ramen noodles. In 2010, Krystal threw Berry a surprise graduation party. Unbeknownst to Krystal, Berry had a surprise of his own. At the party, in front of all their family and friends, Berry proposed. Krystal and Berry wed three months later. They've been happily married eight years. They currently reside in Chicago, and tour together playing rock n' soul music, changing the world one stage at a time.

Ginnette Diaz Montanez and MIchael Montanez

Ginnette Diaz Montanez '10 and Michael Montanez '08

I was a senior in high school with no prom date, ugh! One of my close friends suggested I go with her cousin because he was a great dancer. We did a group outing where we finally met and I was smitten. When I met Mike, I'm sure I looked like one of those cartoons where they have hearts in their eyes and drool all over.

We got to know each other and eventually started dating in July 2005. I had already been accepted into Columbia College Chicago so you can imagine how stoked I was when Mike told me he was already planning on transferring to Columbia that fall. It was fate.

We would ride the train together, he would walk me to class, I would wait for him, etc. It was a great college experience to have your boo with you the whole time. He graduated a year before me but he was always so helpful and supportive through my last year. I finally graduated in December 2010 (and I thought he was going to propose that day but he didn't) and we continued dating. He proposed December 2011 and we got married October 2014. We have been happily married for the last four years and welcomed a baby boy in March 2018, who is starting to show artistic and creative traits just like mommy and daddy.

Kristen and Nick Paul

Kristen Paul '10 and Nick Paul '09

We met while auditioning for a televised improv show in the TV building at Columbia in fall of 2008. We have our director Jon Hildreth to thank for coming up with the show and allowing our paths to cross. I was a senior and Kristen was a junior. After we were both cast and started rehearsing together, it wasn't long before we started dating. Even though we met in Chicago, we found out we had lived five miles apart in Michigan our entire lives (which makes going home for the holidays very easy) among many other near-miss meetings over the years. We've been together over 10 years and got married in 2014. We now reside in LA. I (Nick) am a full time comedian/magician, and consult on various TV projects (Most recently, the new Netflix Series Magic for Humans). Kristen was a performer with Walt Disney World Entertainment for seven years and is now pursuing acting and TV writing full time. She occasionally helps me out in my stage shows when we travel. We live with our two wiener dogs, Rolo and Rascal.

Nina Genatossio and Joe Scafidi

Nina Genatossio '13 and Joe Scafidi '13

It was the second semester of our senior year. (We really cut it close!) Having just finished a production of The Fantasticks, the music director Emily Barett asked me to sing at her senior recital. I sang two selections from the show and went home—a typical night for a Musical Theatre major. What I didn't know is that Joe was sitting in the audience, watching the performance. Apparently, he tried to find me after the recital, but was stuck in conversation with his piano teacher. Later that night, Emily texted me to let me know her friend Joe was a fan of my performance and asked her for my phone number. I figured this was a "business" exchange—since he was a fellow music student, maybe he was interested in collaborating! Naively, I gave her the go-ahead to send him my number. Later that week, we met up outside the Music Center to go on our first date. (Coincidentally, it was Valentine's Day.) We've been together ever since! Flash forward six years: We are both living together in Los Angeles pursing our careers in acting and music. My partner and I never would have met if it wasn't for Columbia, and as grateful as I am for my college degree, I am even more grateful that we found each other.

Abel Arciniega and Sonia Garcia

Abel Arciniega '02 and Sonia Garcia '04

Sonia Garcia and I met at Columbia in 2000 in our Mathematics class. (Just for the record, I received an A in class while she received a B. I will always remind her of that!) Currently Sonia is the executive producer at Univision Chicago, and is a four-time Emmy winner. She has been with the company for 15 years in 2019. I am the official photographer of the professional Major League soccer club, Chicago Fire. My clients include the Chicago Board of Tourism, Northwestern Hospital, Lurie Cancer Center, and national political organizations. I have been shooting professionally for 14 years. We have been married for 11 years and have two healthy and beautiful kids. We currently live in Jefferson Park, Chicago. We always thank Columbia for the opportunity to have met and live out our dreams as working artists.

Shayna Wacker and Nick Fox

Shayna Wacker '16 and Nick Fox '16

Nick and I both started at Columbia in 2013. It was convocation day and my roommate and I had just met up. While sitting in the grass eating our lunch, a guy walked up and asked to sit next to us. His name was Erick and we all really hit it off. Later that evening we invited Erick up to our dorm room to hang out for the night. We were living at the Dwight and it just so happened he was too. He decided to invite one of his roommates up to our room with him. We heard a knock on the door. I answered and it was Erick and this other guy, Nick. It wasn't love at first sight. It was simply an evening of making new friends. We all started to hang out more and more in the following days. It was apparent that Nick had a crush on me and I wasn't certain I felt the same way. However, no one had made me laugh and smile as much as he did in a very long time. After the first couple of weeks, we ultimately decided that it would make sense to date. Our friend group saw it coming from the get-go.

We both graduated early and five years later, we now live in Nashville. I'm in marketing and Nick works in concert promotion. We own a home and have two dogs. We're still best friends with Erick too. Our journey at Columbia was amazing and something we reminisce about frequently.

Kris and Ryan Niemuth

Kris Niemuth '10 and Ryan Niemuth '10

My husband and I met while we were resident assistants at Columbia. We were both living and working in the Buckingham building in 2008. I remember thinking he was cute but so not my type. (Though, who really knows their type at 18 years old?) After many long nights doing rounds together, a heart-to-heart over Osaka smoothies, and a walk in Grant Park, we became very close friends. I was dating someone from my hometown at the time, so I kept Ryan at arm's length until I was sure I was falling for him—and I was! I promptly got out of the other relationship and was determined to make Ryan mine. In February of 2009 we finally made it official. We've been together ever since! We were married in August of 2013 and welcomed our daughter, Callie, in September of 2017. Ryan and I spent a few years in Charlotte, North Carolina after college, but returned to Chicago in 2015 and actually live in the South Loop because of how much we loved it here in college! It's fun to be back and raising our daughter where it all began for us.

Laurie and Jeff Kapugi

Laurie Kapugi '87 and Jeff Kapugi '88 (pictured with sons Alex Kapugi, 28, and Zak Kapugi`, 25)

While in my junior year at Columbia College I was working at WCRX as a newscaster. The student station manager was Jeff Kapugi. It turns out he had a huge crush on me and was stalking me in the hallways. After work one day we went out for drinks with two others from the station, and that night in the Blackstone Hotel bar our fate was sealed. We were engaged in May of 1987 and married in April 1988.

We picked out the ring together and when it was ready, Jeff gave it to me in the WCRX office. I was working and had a headache, so Jeff offer to get me some Advil. He came back with a new bottle that I quickly put down on the desk and continued working. He kept hounding me to take the Advil. I was so annoyed I finally stopped what I was doing to take some. When I opened it up, I discovered it had been tampered with. Now I was annoyed and upset. This was May 1997 and the Tylenol tamperings were still fresh in everyone's minds. Jeff finally convinced me to take the cotton out and when I did my engagement ring went flying through the office. Yes, I received my engagement ring in a bottle of Advil and I still have the bottle as a memento. Although there have been headaches along the way (including two sons), we will celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary in April. Jeff's radio career has taken us to four states (two times each) and we just moved into our ninth house. I wouldn't change a thing: Life is an adventure and I'm thrilled to be living it with the love of my life who I found at Columbia!

David Aaron Harbin and John Bash

David Aaron Harbin '85 and John Bash

John and I met while working at LePub restaurant. Johnny was already working there and when I started, a mutual friend introduced us. A year later, we went to Waterfront restaurant. We didn't attend Columbia at the same time but after knowing each other for a while, we found out that we had both attended. John, like me, had a musical theatre background and decided to go to Columbia to study film, dance, and theatre. He starred in several short films at Columbia and even took a class from Joe Mantegna. I went to study in the Arts Entertainment and Media Management program. While we were still at Waterfront, the AIDS epidemic had started and eventually three of our coworkers and one of our friends were diagnosed. It was part of the reason we decided to tie the knot. Under Mayor Daley, we received our domestic partnership certificate in 2009, which we still have framed. We plan on obtaining a civil union license in Illinois. We still work together, as I'm now promoting John's singing career. Our rescue dog Max goes just about everywhere with us.

Tom and Martina Swanson

Tom Swanson '99 and Martina Swanson '91

Tom and I met in August 1999 while taking a computer animation night class. Last night of the class, we went out for a beer across the street to listen to a band and hang out. This turned into a date. We started dating, thinking this will just be a summer fling. We briefly broke up after two years for six months. When we got back together, we progressively moved toward a more serious relationship. We had our first son, Bobby, in 2006 followed by our wedding in 2008. And in 2010 our second son, Peter, was born. We now live in Mount Prospect, Illinois.

Remo and Spencer Remoquillo

Jonathan "Remo" Remoquillo '13 and Spencer Remoquillo '13

Remo and I met working at the Columbia Chronicle in 2010. Remo was a designer and I was a reporter. We worked together for a semester and stayed close friends, but we didn't start dating until after I graduated from Columbia and moved out of the state to pursue my journalism career.

Remo was finishing his final semester when he came to visit me during his spring break. He drove all night, got a speeding ticket, and shortly after getting there, blurted out that he had always liked me and regretted never saying anything sooner. We had a long distance relationship for three years until we got married on August 1, 2015. We set down roots in Ohio, where we now live with our dog Cosmo and our one-year-old daughter, Ada.

Remo owns a successful graphic design studio and I am an investigative reporter for the USA Today Network in Ohio, where I've worked for five years. We are very different people with very different interests (which poses the biggest challenge when selecting movies to watch) but somehow we work. We're best friends and always have been.

Helio de los Santos Jr. and Vanessa

Helio de los Santos Jr. '06 and Vanessa de los Santos Jr. '06

My wife Vanessa and I met in a Humanities class in 2003 with professor Deb Foote. I was a Marketing major and she was a Broadcast Journalism major. I first saw Vanessa walk into class and immediately thought, "She looks a little nerdy, but I like her glasses. She's cute." I couldn't get over her outfit. She came in rocking a bright yellow Mickey Mouse jacket, the biggest pink Jansport book bag I've ever seen, and some Oshkosh B'gosh overalls. She says she first thought that I was some "thug" because I was wearing a Bears Jersey, baggy jeans, Jordans, and big DJ headphones while I sat in the back corner of the room. However, her opinion of me changed the moment I raised my hand to answer a question.

What I didn't know at the time is that Vanessa befriended one of my high school friends, Kat, who also went to Columbia. One day Vanessa spotted me while she and Kat were eating lunch at a cafe. She told Kat, "That's the cute guy from my class!" To which Kat said, "Oo, Helio!? I went to high school with him."

That's when Vanessa started plotting. She had Kat meet her outside of our classroom one day and after class was over, we all "casually" ran into each other. I reconnected with Kat not knowing she was "waiting" for Vanessa and got invited to join them for lunch. We ate at Potbelly's, had a good conversation with lots of laughs, exchanged numbers, and the rest is history.

This past October, Vanessa and I celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary and next week she'll deliver our third baby boy.

Zoe George and Savannah Ward

Zoe George '17 and Savannah Ward '16

I had known Savannah my whole time at Columbia. They were a year above me and worked at the TV cage. They were attractive and intimidating and I was quiet and tongue-tied. Fast forward two years to when I moved out to LA. I saw Savannah on a dating app and swiped because I recognized them from Columbia and they were a friendly face. We matched but that was the end of that. We slowly started to follow each other on social media, but still no bite. It wasn't until I reluctantly took a job as a runner at the same place Savannah worked when it all began. I dreaded my time there because my nerves over the potential interaction with Savannah were tearing my stomach apart. My plan to dodge Savannah worked until the very last minutes of my very last day there. They walked past reception where I was sitting and quickly chirped "Oh, Hi!" before leaving. Later that night, I invited Savannah to a party we were having. For the record, I had been inviting them to all of our house parties for months, to no avail. But this time instead of just not showing up, they slid into my DM's to let me know that, not only were they way too cool to attend our shindig, but they would also really be interested in hanging out one day because they thought we would "vibe well." We've been together for a year, for we did, in fact, vibe well.

Jacquis and Jessica Weiner

Jessica Weiner '08 and Jacquis Neal '08

We met Jacquis' last semester and my second-to-last semester senior year in an improv class. We were both studying theatre/acting. We were also both "dating" someone else at the time, which would fizzle out towards the end of the semester when we started hanging out. It was funny because I would always see the guy I was dating right before class and he was awful. I would come into class mad and upset, and Jacquis would make me feel better. Anyway, we both stopped dating those people a couple weeks before school ended so we started hanging out and going on dates for those couple weeks. When that semester ended, I went to New York University for a three-week program which could have been the end of this new romance—but instead we talked every single day and he even sent me a care package with a mix tape! The day I got home we made things official. That was 11.5 years ago! We stayed in Chicago for a while and six years ago we moved to LA together. A few months ago, we got engaged next to the beautiful castle at Disney World, our favorite place, where we also went for our first and 10th anniversaries. We live in Burbank with our cats Ziggy and Bella😊

Debby and Steve Rabeor

Debby Rabeor '85 and Steve Rabeor '85

We met while enrolled in several of the same classes in the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management program. Our passion for music and the arts brought us together. We began running into each other outside of classes and knew it was fate. Our first date was INXS opening for The Go-Go's at the old Poplar Creek Music Theater.

We both went on to work in the industries we studied at Columbia. I am now a rental coordinator at Redfield Estate, a historic venue in Glenview. I stay connected to my Columbia roots as a chapter member of the Columbia Alumni Association Network. Steve interned with EMI Records during his senior year, leading to a career in sales and promotions with major record labels. He transferred his skills to association management and now serves as the sponsorship and business development manager for the Emergency Nurses Association.

Married now for 31 years, we live in Jefferson Park with rescued hound dogs Huckleberry and Rosie. To this day, we remain grateful to Columbia College Chicago for bringing us together and enriching our lives.

Rebecca and Cameron Zetty

Rebekah Zetty '01 and Cameron Zetty '99

I met my husband Cameron in 1998 while we were both attending Columbia. I instantly had a crush on him, which also meant that I had absolutely no idea how to talk to him. So instead of starting a conversation, I would go down to the basement lounge in the theatre building while he was there, walk directly to the vending machine, and buy a pack of gum (the least expensive option). Then, when he would notice me and say hi, I would turn around, act surprised, and say hi back.

After about a year of this, he moved to New York to work on Broadway, and even though it seemed like that should mark the end of another one of my silly crushes, I never forgot about him. So when my roommate, also a Columbia alum, ran into Cameron a few years later and found out that he'd moved back to Chicago, she immediately dropped my name and invited him to an upcoming barbecue at our place.

And the rest, as they say, is history. This April will mark our 13th wedding anniversary. We live in Los Angeles where Cameron has a very successful career in lighting for television, film, and live theatre. I've also appeared on film and TV, before becoming a stay-at-home mom to our two adorable little boys.

Bridget and Ryan Chambers

Bridget Chambers '08 and Ryan Chambers '08

When I was young, I had lots of dreams about the kind of man I would marry. I imagined something like handsome and preppy, pursuing law or medicine, and talking about feelings under the stars. You can imagine my surprise when I fell in love with a long-haired, ear-pierced, rock band drummer from Chicago.Our love story was like a lot of others: unique only because it was ours. We met in college when we lived across the hall from one another. We began as friends, which turned into "best friends," which turned into inseparable. Of course meeting at age 19 didn't come without its challenges. We quickly learned that we didn't just have to grow together, we had to grow up together. Now in 2019, we've had 14 years together—over six of them married. We are still living downtown, and I am still so grateful to the Plymouth Court dorm at Columbia where the man of my dreams found me.

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