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Turtle Loves

By Sala Levin ’10


Whether it was a meet-cute at the dining hall or a bleary-eyed run-in at an 8 a.m. class, thousands of Terps have fallen in love in College Park. To celebrate the season of love, we asked alumni to share the stories of how they met their valentine at the University of Maryland. Here are some of our favorite stories, proving that love can blossom anywhere, anytime—even in a statistics course. #TerpLove4Life

DanDan Zawacki
In the fall of 2011, I was starting junior year while Brooke Parker was a sophomore auditioning to be a Maryland Images campus tour guide. I was lucky enough to be one of the judges, and as she started dropping fun facts about McKeldin Mall (it’s the longest in the U.S.!), I was smitten by her brassy Chicago accent and “Terpaholic” T-shirt. We were paired up together as guides, she as my trainee, and spent every Thursday at 11 a.m. sharing our love for UMD with visitors. We’d split buffalo chicken wraps afterward at the South Campus Diner or get breakfast beforehand at Bagel Place—any excuse to make our tours last a little longer. That winter break, we shared our first kiss while sitting in the tree in the Memorial Chapel Garden, a place we visit every time we’re back on campus. 

Jon Levine
1993 at the Vous throwing pop-a-shot basketballs into the crowd and one hit my now wife of 20 years in the head. Had to apologize and got a date.

Jenifer Endlich 
It was my freshman year in 1996. I was spending a lot of time with friends on the third floor of Ellicott Hall. Brian was cooler than me: Tall, cute, popular, funny—and not interested in me, or so I thought. We bonded over college basketball and one day made a wager: If Duke beat Carolina, I’d pay for a dinner date. If Carolina beat Duke, he’d pay for dinner. I lost (or won) and our first date was at Adele’s in the student union. I used my meal points. (Sorry, Mom and Dad.) From then on, we were inseparable. Brian graduated before me and became a campus police officer. He loved to pull me over or turn on his cruiser loudspeaker as I walked through campus. Three years later we got married—in the chapel, of course! In the 16 years since then, we’ve had two wonderful kids. Every time we take them to Maryland Day, we point out the landmarks of the beginning of us. 

Janae Cruz 
We met in Spring 2012 (sophomore year) in RA class. He wore flip-flops (no matter the temperature outside) and became one of my favorite people to walk duty rounds with. Through late-night study sessions in Somerset Hall, waffles with friends on Saturday mornings in the South Campus Dining Hall, Walking Dead and House marathons when we should have been studying, and playing intramural flag football together, I finally learned senior year that my forever friend and partner was right there all along.

T’Naija Rayshel Gormley
I was entering my junior year, and he had recently graduated and was home with a foot injury that summer and realized he had never gotten a chance to talk to me. He found me on Facebook, tagged in a picture with a mutual friend, and sent me a friend request. To which I replied, “Do I know you?” This began a two week-long banter about how creepy he was and how I did not want to talk to him. Eventually I agreed to go to lunch with him, and here we are, married seven years this month—at Memorial Chapel on campus, of course—with two beautiful children. I love you, Bookie Edward D. Gormley Jr.

Carolee B. Miller 
We met in the fall of 1967. I was working on the Greek newspaper with one of his fraternity brothers. Our first date was at the National Zoo and pizza at Ledo. We became regulars at Terps basketball games. We were married in Baltimore on Dec. 27, 1969. Living in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Missouri and Louisiana has never stopped our love for UMD or the Terps. We try to attend homecoming and any games near us in New Orleans. In NOLA-speak: “Geaux Terps!”

SharonSharon Snyder Deutch 
My husband and I met at a UMD football game in the fall of 1986. Jeff was hoping to give away his ticket, but once he saw me, he decided to stay. During the game, I got up to get popcorn, and I tripped over Jeff’s feet and fell into his lap. He says that I planned to do that. I say that I’m just clumsy. We went on our first date on September 27, 1986, dinner and the movie “Children of a Lesser God” (we were both taking a sign language class). After the movie we walked around the UMD chapel and shared our first kiss. When Jeff graduated a year ahead of me and headed to the University of South Carolina to pursue his MBA, I have never been so sad. But we talked every night for hours and after a year, he transferred to American University to be closer to me. We just celebrated our 26th anniversary and are so very proud that our son Adam is a UMD freshman. We have come back over the years for football and basketball games and of course Maryland Day. But now it feels so much more wonderful to be back on campus. Our daughter Jenna is a junior in high school and the only school she wants to go to is UMD! Without question, we are 100% #TerpLove4Life.

Rodney Orders
We met at the Spy Club when I was 19. We exchanged numbers and talked the next day for three hours. She invited me to a party and ghosted me the next day. I saw her walking on campus several months later. I asked her if she needed a ride home and she said yes. She didn’t invite me in. A year later I saw her at the UMD gym and asked her out properly, and she said yes. We have been married for 21 years and have two children.

ClaudiaClaudia Rios-Phelps
It was January 1992, the first day of statistics class. As I settled into my chair, in walked Erik Phelps with his bright blue eyes. Over the first weeks of class, we exchanged glances and smiles. Coincidentally, we decided on the same day to wait for each to walk to the computer lab. What’s the probability of that? Twenty-two years of marriage and two beautiful children later, we are still going strong. Our oldest is a now a sophomore on a Banneker/Key Scholarship (the same as the one Erik earned), living in La Plata Hall (the same dorm and floor where I lived). Our daughter just got accepted to the Honors College for Fall 2018. In addition to raising future Terps, we both help recruit UMD graduates for our employer, MITRE Corp. Our love story with UMD is stronger than ever!

BenBen Offit
When I moved onto the sixth floor of Elkton Hall on the first day of my freshman year in 2005, I met a girl directly down the hall. She was amazingly beautiful, smart, kind and way out of my league. I felt something special come over me, an instant crush, or maybe love at first sight. I said to myself, “One day, that girl will be mine.” I waited patiently as we became friends and stayed friends throughout college. Then my dream came true, and we officially started dating our senior year after my fraternity was matched up with her sorority during Homecoming. We now have been together 10 years and married over four years and live in Baltimore. It is all because of the Terp gods matching us up on the same Elkton floor freshman year so we could become friends and then matching us up again for Homecoming. It was meant to be. Thank you, Maryland!

Share your Terp love story—or your love-for-Maryland story—with the University of Maryland Alumni Association for a chance to win a prize package valued at $500, compliments of The Hotel at the University of Maryland. No purchase necessary to win.

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.