Hoos in Love: Grounds for Matrimony

February 13, 2024 By Mike Mather, mike.mather@virginia.edu Mike Mather, mike.mather@virginia.edu

For two University of Virginia archaeology scholars, their required field work at Monticello became their personal field of dreams. It wasn’t always so.

“I had a big crush on Emma immediately,” recalled Richard Moffett. The pair shared many classes together, but didn’t really talk.

One day, Moffett saw his now-wife approaching a classroom and held the door open for her. Head down, she walked right through, not noticing the chivalrous act. “I must have been looking down at my phone or something and I’m just so embarrassed,” she said on a call from their home in Leesburg. “I felt terrible about it later on.”

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Fast forward to the summer before their third years, and Richard and Emma, unbeknownst to one another, had both gotten off the waitlist for UVA’s Summer Archaeological Field School at Thomas Jefferson’s home. 

Emma Hurd and Richard Moffett began dating as undergraduate students in 2010. (Contributed photo)

“I remember I saw her getting out of a car on the first day, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the greatest thing ever,’” Richard said. “And I just imagined an archeological dig would be me and 10 other dudes. And it would just be a lot of guys. And, and I was just so happy, you know, that Emma was there.”

For the next six weeks, there the two were, huddled over their work. “A lot of times we would be working on the quadrant and just chatting and getting to know each other,” Emma said.

The couple graduated in 2012 and returned to Grounds the following fall for their first Young Alumni Reunion. One evening on the Rotunda stairs, facing University Avenue, Richard got down on one knee and proposed. Emma said yes and the pair were wed in University Chapel the following July. The wedding party then proceeded to The Colonnade Club for the reception and cut their cake with a trowel, “a nod to our field of study and the beginnings of our relationship,” Emma said.

The pair are happily raising their two sons, Jackson, who is 8, and Tucker, who is 4. “We both had an incredible four years at UVA, and we can honestly say that those years built our life together and we are forever grateful.”

Of course, Emma and Richard are far from the only Wahoos whose Cavalier crushes evolved into lifetime commitments.

 

The Moffetts married in the University Chapel in 2013 and held their wedding reception in the Colonnade Club. Both archaeology students at UVA, they used a trowel to cut their cake. (Contributed photo)

Last week, UVA Today tossed out a random query to alumni, asking them to share their stories and, wow, did they deliver. It turns out the University of Virginia is Grounds for matrimony far more often than we thought. Dozens of stories flooded into our email, recounting how sparks flew in class, on the Corner and at Scott Stadium. They met by chance, serendipity, or twists of fate so quirky they would rival even the best Hollywood rom-com script.

Here are some of our favorites.

Chris and Lynne Tickle were originally set up with other people for a blind date ahead of a sorority “jungle” party. But just before the Feb. 5, 1983, event, Lynne cornered the matchmaker to ask: “Does my date love to dance?” The matchmaker called an audible and switched couples because Chris, in fact, loved to dance.

Two people hold up a third person for a photo

Chris Tickle, left, helps hold up his blind date, Lynne, at a sorority’s 1983 “jungle" party. (Contributed photo)

“Lynne and I have been together ever since and will soon celebrate the 39th anniversary of our marriage in the UVA Chapel,” Chris wrote.

Mary Katherine and Trevor Kienzle first ran into each other on the steps of Alderman Library in the fall of 1985. The meeting left an impression.

Jumping ahead a few months to the spring, both Mary Katherine and Trevor ended up separately at the Foxfield Races. Both were supposed to meet dates near the horse track, but as fate would have it, those dates couldn’t make it.

“By chance, the two of us ran into each other at the races, started talking, and have been together ever since,” Mary Katherine wrote.

Mary Katherine and Trevor Kienzle returned to Grounds for their daughter’s graduation last year. (Contributed photos)

“At UVA, Trevor and I could not have been more different,” she continued. She was from a small town in Tidewater and he was the well-traveled son of a diplomat. “That is what is so special about UVA. It brings together all types of people from different backgrounds and life experiences into Jefferson’s Academical Village to learn from each other.”

When their daughter graduated from UVA last spring, the couple recreated their chance meeting on the steps of the renovated library.

Emily O’Brien and Jordan Harris met while taking out the trash.

Just weeks into her first year at UVA, Emily lugged a recycling bin down the stairwell of Kellogg House, spilling most of the contents. “Jordan stopped to help, and nine years later, we were married,” she wrote.

Jordan Harris and Emily O’Brien. (Contributed photos)

In between those fateful days, Emily and Jordan shared meals at Observatory Hill Dining Hall, picnicked on Grounds, and cheered on the football and basketball teams. They graduated together in 2019 and Jordan proposed in 2022. “Of our large 19-person wedding party, 16 were fellow Hoos.” 

Cristian and Iliana Karaoglan met in a foreign affairs class in their final year at the University. They went on a first date Downtown just before winter break in 2008. “After that, we were inseparable,” Iliana wrote. “We both had international families with parents who are first-generation immigrants. We had the same interests and dreams and it seemed like it was meant to be.”

They got married in Brazil, where Cristian has roots, and later lived in New York and Houston before returning to New York City’s Upper East Side, where they are raising two children, Alex, 3, and Kate, 1. 

Cristian and Iliana Karaoglan with Alex, 3, and Kate, 1. (Contributed photo)

“Our closest friends remain our friends from UVA, and we find ourselves even so many years later closely connected to the school and the community that we had there,” she continued. “Just this past year we went to three weddings of UVA friends, and a very close friend from UVA became the godmother of our daughter.” 

Karen Fahringer and Rick Moore might have the longest Wahoo courtship on record. They met in high school and went to prom together, but at UVA, Karen focused on academics, while Rick was eager to explore the social side of college. They broke up after a semester. They remained friends through graduation and then Karen returned to her hometown while Rick stayed in Charlottesville.

“Fast forward 32 years,” Karen wrote. “We became friends on Facebook and we connected when I came to Grounds for a trip. We had dinner out as two old flames may do, and the spark was still there!” They dated long distance for two years and, after the wedding, Karen moved to Charlottesville.

Karen Fahringer and Rick Moore at prom, and then years later on Grounds when they reconnected. (Contributed photo)

“Now, we go to all the home football games, cheer on the basketball team from our living room and proudly celebrate our alma mater daily. Wahoowa!”

Sara Albrecht and Mike McWilliams connected at a popular pizza place, but the second time was the charm.

Sara was new on the job at the Mellow Mushroom on the Corner in December 2017 when a large group of men rambled in. “It was probably a table of about 15 or so, very daunting for my first time waiting tables,” she wrote.

But there was a cute guy at the table who kept smiling at her. Before the group left, he asked her out. “After our second date at Lampo,” Sara wrote, “I knew he was a keeper.”

However, fresh from a recent breakup, Mike texted Sara on Valentine’s Day and called off what was to be their third date. “I cried all the way home from a University Singers’ rehearsal, ate a consolatory personal pizza at the bar at Mellow, and thought that was that.”

Sara and Mike at Final Exercises next to a picture of them with their baby

Sara Albrecht and Mike McWilliams at graduation and now with daughter Libby. (Contributed photos)

But, Sara continued, “The C-Ville gods work in mysterious ways, though. And suddenly it was March and there was two feet of snow on the ground. I was working the lunch shift at Mellow and, with classes canceled, we were absolutely packed. In walks Mike with that warm smile on his face … and I suppose the rest is history.”

Together, they walked the Lawn for Final Exercises in 2018. They lived for a time in Ireland, returned to Virginia so Mike could attend medical school, and tied the knot in downtown Charlottesville in 2022. This Valentine’s Day is their fifth together, and the first with daughter Libby.

“Of all the things I gained from my time at UVA, one of the greatest was finding my soulmate and the most wonderful, intelligent, loving, supporting husband and father I could ask for. Happy Valentine’s Day, Hoos!”

Andy Schoka was on UVA’s crew team in 1987 and the team needed a coxswain. That’s the usually diminutive person who sits at the stern of the boat, or shell, and keeps the rowers in rhythm.

“Since I was small and a bit loud, my resident advisor thought that I might give it a try,” wrote Wendy Schoka. “I knew nothing about the sport, including the fact that it required very early mornings on the cold Rivanna River.”

A side by side of when the Schoka's met versus them recently

Wendy and Andy Schoka in 1989 and more recently at a basketball game. (Contributed photos)

But as Wendy tells it, Andy was cute and friendly and he offered her rides to practices in his Pontiac Bonneville. And in the shell, Andy was seated first, meaning he always faced Wendy. When the team worked out together by running up Observatory Hill, “He would literally pull me up the hill, hand in hand. He won my heart. Although we both moved on from the crew team after that season, we spent the rest of our time together at UVA.”

Wendy and Andy have been married 31 years and their son will attend the Darden School of Business in the fall. “Thank you, UVA, for introducing me to my forever Valentine!” Wendy wrote. 

A couple pose for a selfie in front of the Rotunda

Jan Pascua and Jim Peischel. (Contributed photo)

A quirk of the alphabet led to love for Jan Pascua and Jim Peischel.

A professor in the McIntire School of Commerce arranged students alphabetically by surname, and “Pascua” and “Peischel” ended up next to each other. 

Group sessions turned into lunch dates and study dates. And then, just ahead of Valentine’s Day, Jim slipped Jan a note suggesting dinner at Newcomb Hall. “We didn’t have a lot of money to spare back then, but that date solidified our relationship,” Jan wrote.

Both became accountants, and Jim proposed the day after tax day in 1993. 

A family gathers for a photo in their UVA themed clothes

Angela and David Kennedy, center, with their four children. (Contributed photo)

In 1995, Angela and David Kennedy lived in the same dorm but hadn’t yet crossed paths. When Angela wandered into her biology class in Gilmer Hall in the first semester of her first year, she and her roommate saw David sitting alone. She convinced her roommate they should introduce themselves “so he would have a friend.”

“When I tell the story of how we actually met, he says he wanted to sit alone and instead spent all semester with us annoying him,” Angela wrote. “Anyway, that was the start of our friendship.”

The next summer, Angela kept getting dragged to fraternity parties because her friend had a crush on a guy. The crush never worked out, but David was often there and soon David and Angela started dating. He proposed in 2000. The couple, now both double Hoos, have been married almost 23 years. They have four children, including two attending UVA and two more who, they hope, will get that chance as well.

“We’ve raised our children with the same love of UVA,” Angela wrote. 

Wetzel and Mullan hold hands and touch foreheads in a garden

Carlin Wetzel and Andrew Mullan. (Contributed photo)

Carlin Wetzel and Andrew Mullan met in 2014 at the First Year Formal. They became friends and, by this point in the article, you can probably guess where this is going. By 2016 they were dating, and they stayed on Grounds through 2019 to pursue graduate degrees.

“Over those four years, we spent ample time hammocking, reading and hanging out in the gardens,” Carlin wrote, “so we chose to take our engagement photos throughout the gardens in 2020.”

This summer, they’ll be married four years.

“UVA is such a dear place to both of us for countless reasons,” Carlin wrote, “but the main one being that it’s the treasured place where we met and fell in love!”

Media Contact

Mike Mather

Managing Editor University Communications