Sure, plenty of St. Joseph’s students meet their future spouses at College. But it’s rare to find SJC sweethearts who didn’t attend the same campus.
SJC Long Island alum Raymond Lockmer ’15 met SJC Brooklyn alumna Christina Holian ’15 during a retreat for SJC Orientation Team leaders at Honor’s Haven Resort in Ellenville, New York. Three years later, Lockmer took Holian back to the resort and proposed to her.
“I always thought that I’d meet someone (at college) that might be a long-term relationship, but I never thought that I’d meet someone who would become my wife,” said Lockmer, a history major and political science minor. “When I met Christina, it was a totally different story and feeling than I had ever felt before.”
Responding to a questionnaire conducted by St. Joseph’s Office of Alumni Engagement in honor of ISJC Week, Holian described the moment Lockmer, a New York state court officer, popped the big question last August as “perfect.”
“Ray said we were taking a trip for our anniversary, back to Honor’s Haven,” said Holian a fifth-grade special education teacher who earned a bachelor’s degree in child study and speech, and returned to SJC Brooklyn to earn a master’s in 2017. “Right in front of the fountain, he proposed!”
Lockmer said attending different campuses and living in different parts of New York presented challenges to their relationship.
“But it made us a much stronger couple,” he said. “We were forced to become good communicators. It made us much better planners, and it definitely allowed for us to make some different plans when it came to date night. I was able to bring her out to Long Island and I was able to go into New York City.
“It was also a chance to see the different campuses and the different campuses life styles and student life,” Lockmer said. “I made many great friends from SJC Brooklyn through Christina, and Christina has made many great friends from SJC Long Island through me.”
A number of other SJC sweethearts responded to the questionnaire, sharing how they met the loves of their lives at St. Joseph’s:
Newly engaged couple Alexandra Moncayo ’13 and Matthew Calestini ’14 met at SJC Long Island during auditions for a play put on by SJC Drama. Calestini, a dual major in psychology and criminal justice and now a Suffolk County TASC Case Manager, brought Moncayo, a psychology major now employed as a social worker, back to campus last October to propose to her on stage in the auditorium in O’Connor Hall.
“SJC is such a welcoming environment with so many ways to meet people with similar interests as you,” Moncayo said.
He Took a Knee in Central Park
Victoria Iuni ’14 and Steven Trudden ’15 were introduced by a classmate at SJC Brooklyn. They went on a movie date in May 2013, and it was happily ever after from there.
Iuni, a psychology major now employed as an occupational therapist, fondly recalled how Trudden, a custom service manager who majored in criminal justice at St. Joseph’s, proposed.
“We were in Central Park on a Wednesday after I got out of work. He got me to go uptown by promising cupcakes — which I never got,” she said. “We were standing watching the row boats when he got down on one knee. I was so surprised. He had a photographer there to catch the moment. It was perfect! Then, when we got home our parents and siblings were there to celebrate.”
Vishwakesh “Vishi” Singh ’13 and Merissa Bhimsingh ’16, ’18 met on campus at SJC Long Island. Bhimsingh remembered their first date was “dinner and a movie.”
Thinking back on the friendly and cohesive atmosphere at St. Joseph’s, Bhimsingh, a teacher who was a child study major at St. Joseph’s, isn’t surprised she met the love of her life at school.
“St. Joseph’s is very warm and inviting and there is always so much going on,” she said. “With all the events and clubs, you’re bound to meet new people and hopefully, even your future spouse.”
She shared how Singh, a business administration and psychology major who now works in hospital finance, proposed to her. “Vishi knows how much I love flowers, so he proposed to me at Old Westbury Gardens in June. It was perfect! I had no idea he was planning it for months, and the moment was very special for the both of us,” she said.
Walking the Campus Together
Ryan Rao ’11 met his sweetheart Jackie Rao ’08 in the cafeteria at SJC Long Island.
“It was just great to walk the campus together as the school day was coming to an end,” recalled Ryan Rao, an accountant who studied accounting at SJC. “As the day would fade into the night, we would walk from the quad to our cars parked in the dirt lots.
“RIP,” Rao quipped, referring to the dirt lots that have since been paved over.
The Raos’ first date: Dinner at Outback Steakhouse and a movie.
The proposal: “We had a trip planned to New York City in December 2013 to see the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza,” Ryan Rao said in a reply to the SJC alumni questionnaire. “Little did she know the purpose of the trip was so I could propose to her.
“We went to one of the roped off locations where photographers take your photo, and after the first few, I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me,” he continued. “We then proceeded to go to one of our favorite restaurants in the city, where I surprised her with both of our families.
Thomas Agostino ’13 and Stefanie Burgio ’17 met during an East vs. West game in SJC Brooklyn’s Hill Center in 2014, after being introduced by Vice President of Student Life Sherrie Van Arnam. Agostino was announcing the game while Burgio was in the audience.
The proposal? Beautiful.
“Hidden Waterfall in Iceland followed by an engagement shoot all over Southern Iceland, finishing up with a helicopter ride where we landed on top of a volcano and popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate…enough said,” Agostino, who studied accounting and now works as an auditor, said.
Agostino’s message to the SJC community this Valentine’s Day: “The most innocent hello or a small thoughtful gesture may lead to a relationship that you would have never foreseen.”
Philip G. Ciantro and Diana Mónaco, both SJC Brooklyn 1990 graduates with degrees in chemistry, met on the first day of Dr. Mary Maier’s chemistry class in Sept. 1986.
They had their first date shortly after on Sept. 26, 1986.
“He asked me to marry him in my parents house in the fall of 1990, and we married in January of 1992,” Mónaco said.
What makes St. Joseph’s the right place to meet your future spouse: “The school is small, and most of the people had very similar backgrounds. Most of us, at that time, were first-generation college graduates in our families. We all wanted a small college experience.”