Retriever Love Week 2017: First, An Update!

Happy Valentine’s  Day, Retrievers! Last week, to continue our official-ish Retriever Love Week tradition, we put out a call on social media for stories from couples who met here at UMBC, and this year’s submissions didn’t disappoint. We’re starting off this season of love with a blast from the past, courtesy of Kiara Berg ’15, business technology administration. She and Justin Mahaney ’15, business technology administration, were featured last year, and they had an exciting update for us…

kiara-justin-2Since Valentine’s last year a lot has happened, of course! I moved from my job with NASA to a job with a cybersecurity company after graduating [from] UMBC, and Justin […] just got hired for a cybersecurity position with the government. I’ve been back [to UMBC] a couple of times…to [attend] presentations and to accept some more awards last spring. In May 2016 we moved to our new apartment in Crofton to still be close to UMBC [and] Baltimore as well as DC [and] work. We are still living here until we decide to move, [and] we would like to move out west and also buy our own house one day.

I bought my own car which we took on a lot of trips this summer (it’s a red convertible VW Beetle, perfect for me!). We did our yearly trips to the Ren fair, baseball, football, and hockey games, Ocean City for Justin’s birthday, and weekend getaways to Williamsburg Busch Gardens[.] We would like to visit my family in Sweden sometime soon. [We] also plan on traveling to Ireland, where Justin’s family is from, as well as Germany, and England to see Chelsea play live[.] Greece is on the list too, because he likes the history.

For Halloween we dressed up in a Star Wars theme (of course), and right before Christmas chaos he took me on a tour in the National Harbor and up the Capital Wheel to ask me if I want to spend the rest of my life with him. Of course I said yes!

We also have a lot of small and furry pets now too because I love little animals. Our long haired hamster Hamilton is reaching 28 months of age, and we have two new hermit crabs named Leonidas and Themistocles. We are also fostering homeless guinea pigs until they find their forever home (we currently have two who are three months old), and are in the process of  adopting our own long haired guinea pig female who’s around five months old right now so that we can give her a forever home while also helping others in transition.

[…] We don’t have a wedding date yet but we are planning on being on the beach, by the water, or maybe even on a cruise. And last night I actually found my wedding dress! Hopefully next year when we have a new update, there will be a nice wedding photo of us to show off. 🙂

Submission has been edited for length and clarity.

Click here to check out last year’s Retriever love stories. Of course, even if you missed the boat for submissions, your tale of romance is always welcome in our Class Notes section!

Retriever Love Week: Day 4, Part 2

And now, for the second half of today’s Retriever love stories…

philly (1)Mitch Case ’11, media and communication studies, met Brian Brown ’13, biochemistry and molecular biology, on the STRiVE Leadership Retreat in the winter of 2010. They started dating soon after, and will have been together six years this March. Brian is currently enrolled in the M.D./Ph.D. program at the NYU School of Medicine, and after nearly three years in a long-distance relationship, Mitch recently moved to New York to be closer to Brian and to pursue his next opportunity. (Photo courtesy of Mitch Case.)

IMG_5815.JPGAna Schultz ’15, biochemistry and molecular biology, and Alex Lombardi ’15, information systems, dated all four of their years at UMBC. Says Ana: “[We] believe that being [Retrievers] together helped make [our] relationship as strong as it is today.” They will celebrate their seventh anniversary this fall. (Photo courtesy of Ana Schultz.)

image1Joseph Eassa ’11, history, and Alison D’Ottavio ’12, modern languages and linguistics, had an education class together and were partners for a project. They became close friends for a year before Alison went to Spain to study abroad, and when she came back, they became a couple. They have been living in New York City for almost three years, and celebrated their five-year anniversary on Thursday, February 11. They got engaged on a trip to Panama in December, with a wedding date to be determined. (Photo courtesy of Alison D’Ottavio.)

10414619_663354453712316_4984570627771330482_nOn the night of their microeconomics midterm in the spring of 2013, Kiara Berg ’15, business technology administration, and Justin Mahaney ’15, business technology administration, struck up a conversation, but Justin couldn’t quite place Kiara’s accent. She says that when she told him she was from Sweden, “he was hooked from then on.”

She had forgotten her pencil, so he lent her one. After the midterm, she hung around outside so they could talk more. He asked her if she wanted to start a study group together, which, Kiara later found, was “the college way of asking someone out.” They have been a couple since May 2013, and moved in together last summer. (Photo courtesy of Kiara Berg.)

FB_IMG_1455334350000As UMBC lacrosse players, Jen Dragoni Muston ’04, American studies, and Pat Muston ’04, psychology, ran in a lot of the same social circles. “Soon after freshman move-in, we became best friends,” Jen writes. “We hung out in between classes on campus and attended each other’s games.” By 2002, they had begun dating, and Jen says they’ve been inseparable ever since.

They got married in Cape May, New Jersey, on August 28, 2010, with about 25 of their closest friends and fellow Retrievers in attendance. When Pat was scouting out proposal spots, he picked the back steps leading up to Potomac Hall, where he says he first saw her leaving for lacrosse practice in 2000.

“He says that day, he knew there was something special,” says Jen. (Photo courtesy of Jen Muston.)

Read about all the couples we’ve featured this year here!