Smitten in the South Loop

Love is in the air at Columbia College Chicago! Stock up on Valentine’s Day candy and sit down with these 12 alumni romances. 


Mark Dunn ’84 and Barbara Murphy ’88

Mark and Barbara first met in a 1980 music theory class at Columbia College of Chicago's 11th Street Theater. One day after class, Barbara introduced herself to Mark because she noticed he always went to an empty classroom to practice piano. She needed a keyboard player for a class project, and Mark stepped up—and also became her good friend.

After graduation, they lost track of each other. More than 30 years later, in the fall of 2016, they finally reconnected. They talked about their lives since Columbia and started officially dating. 

Mark and Barbara got engaged in April 2017 and married on November 2, 2017. Today, they entertain private parties singing as a duet team. They laugh about how they should have married 30 years ago.



Raymond Rogers ’99 and Samantha Barrett-Rogers ’01

Raymond graduated from Columbia in 1999, and Samantha graduated in 2001. Somehow, they didn’t meet until 2005, when Samantha was training with Ray for a new position at a Chicago mega-church. Since that day, they have been collaborating creatively and building a family.

Today, Samantha works in the media department of a Chicago mega-church and runs a jewelry and accessory design business called SoundChick. Raymond has won Grammy awards for his audio engineer work, and is currently touring as production manager and head of audio/front of house engineer for hip-hop artist J. Cole. They live in the Chicago area with their daughter, Isis Rayna, and their furry kids, Peacock and Nico. 



Michael Pio ’05 and Jennifer Pio ’05

Michael and Jennifer first met in the summer of 2000 through mutual friends. Together, in 2001, they enrolled at Columbia College Chicago. Michael studied Film and Video and Jennifer studied Marketing Communications. In the fall of 2004, they were both accepted into their respective Semester in LA programs and decided that if they were going to make the move out to Los Angeles, it was going to be a permanent one. 

Jennifer and Michael graduated from Semester in LA in January 2005 and began their lives and careers in Los Angeles. In 2009, Michael and Jennifer became engaged and were married on the beach in Maui in October 2010. In September 2016, they welcomed their daughter Adelaide Lennox into the world.

Michael and Jennifer attribute their Los Angeles success to the solid foundation they obtained through their education at Columbia and its strong network of outstanding students, alumni, and staff. 



Meghan Mathes ’09 and Tim Jacobs ’09

Meghan and Tim started out as the class clown and teacher's pet at Columbia College Chicago. (They’ll let you guess who’s who.) Their separate journeys brought them both to LA with career changes, new friendships, and the adventures of life bringing them still closer together. Fast forward 10 years later: Their wedding will be on June 30, 2018.



Laura Stoecker ’97 and John Granata ’98  

Laura and John both graduated from Columbia in 1997. They met in '93 while working together at Oak Park Camera, started dating after graduation in 1997, and got married in 2001. Since graduating, both have built successful photography careers. Laura’s favorite Columbia classes were Photojournalism 1-3, and John’s was X-Tec (Experimental Techniques).

Shortly after graduation, Laura went to work at the Daily Herald newspaper for 17 years, while also running her portrait business. John worked for various Chicago photo retailers, and began teaching printing classes and traveling the country selling fine art photography full time about seven years ago. Today, both their studios are located in the same building in St. Charles, Illinois.



Kendra Struve ’08 and Brandon Struve ’08

In 2005, Kendra transferred to Columbia College Chicago and moved into the University Center. Shortly after meeting each other, Brandon ended up moving into the room across the hall from Kendra. They quickly became best friends. Exploring Chicago together, they found their favorite spot by the planetarium with a view of the skyline—the spot where Brandon would propose.

After graduating Columbia, they moved to Orlando, Florida, where Brandon started working for Universal Orlando (and remains today). Kendra worked as a teacher for several years and now uses her Columbia education to design escape rooms. They have two children.



Judy Mura and Steve Mura ’07

Steve and Judy graduated in the same year from the same Illinois high school, but they didn't officially meet until their sophomore year at Columbia College Chicago.  Steve was studying Music Business Management while Judy studied Photography. Shortly after graduating in 2007, Steve moved out to New York City in search of a job in the music industry. Judy followed just a few years later. 

Brooklyn became their home: the place where they became dog parents to their beagle/shepherd mix, Ernie Banks; the place where they got married in 2015; and the place where they received a phone call that would officially make them parents through adoption. Last fall, their family moved from Brooklyn to South Orange, New Jersey, where they commute into Manhattan and get to live the sweet suburban life—plus, they’re still close enough to take their daughter, Zephana, to her first Cubs vs. Mets game in July!



Daphne Torres ’09 and Jay Torres

Jay and Daphne met in 2005 and started dating shortly after in 2006. They both majored in Marketing Communications, but their love for music and fashion brought them together. They were both selected by the Columbia Urban Music Association to model in their annual calendar, and from there the couple was inseparable. They got married in 2013, and they’re glad they can call each other college sweethearts.



Juliet Conners ’95 and Matthew Conners ’96

Juliet thought she had graduated—she received her diploma and everything—but she had to return for one last course in 1995. That course was Bill Hayashi's Mystical Consciousness: East Meets West, and that’s where she met Matthew.

Later that summer, Hayashi asked Matthew to watch his house. Turns out Juliet lived only three blocks away. The rest is history: The couple married in June 1997 and moved to Las Vegas in the early summer of 2001. They have two children, Sara (15) and Jahan (9).



Andrea Erazo ’04 and Brian Morowczynski ’03

Brian and Andrea met in a Studio 2 class in 2001, when they were both studying Photojournalism.

The second week of the semester, they paired up for a class assignment on studio lights. Seventeen years later, they are celebrating 11 years of marriage. They have two boys, ages 10 and 6, and have traveled all over the world.



Adam Pryor ’12 and Angela Pryor

In the winter of 2001, Adam took a semester off from bouncing around art schools to live at home. What that really meant was hanging out and drinking coffee at a diner called Annie’s in Brookfield, Wisconsin—and that’s where he and Angela connected.

Soon after they started dating, Angela moved to New York City for school. They talked on the phone and sent care packages, and when Angela decided she wanted to leave New York, they both applied and were accepted to Columbia College Chicago. Two other friends enrolled at Columbia, and they all moved to a Roscoe Village apartment above Mario and Gino’s Gelato. 

Adam and Angela got married in 2009 and welcomed an independent, don’t-care-what-you-say son in 2011. 



Aaron Richmond ’04 and Ashleigh Richmond ’04  

After Aaron and Ashleigh met in 2003, they went on their first date to see School of Rock at the movie theater on Michigan Avenue. At the time, Ashleigh commuted to Chicago from Wisconsin three times a week. When she missed the train home one day, Aaron drove her all the way to the train station in Waukegan. They had their first kiss in the parking lot of the Waukegan Metra.

After graduation, they packed all of their belongings into two cars and moved to Los Angeles together. In 2006, Aaron proposed on the beach in Ventura, California. They got married in 2007, just down the road from where they got engaged. 

Their daughter was born in 2010 and their son was born in 2013. Aaron and Ashleigh fondly remember being a young couple in such a great city. Last year, they celebrated their 10-year anniversary with a long-awaited trip to Hawaii. 

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