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Drew University Valentine’s Day Stories

Love stories of Drew couples

February 2024 – We’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with a look at love stories from Drew University.

Rob Auletti C’15 and Laura (D’Ornellas) Auletti C’15

“Rob and I met at the beginning of our first year (fall 2011). We both lived on Welch 3rd, where you’d frequently hear Rob yelling down the hallway for help with his lab report or that his mom dropped off cookies for everyone. We were both biology majors and baseball/softball players, so our schedules were pretty similar. We remained friends through our junior year. When we returned for our senior year, we became inseparable. We spent our time together studying, him catching my bullpen sessions, or winning beer pong tournaments at the Grasshopper in Morristown.

“We continued a “long distance” relationship (New Jersey to Long Island) while Rob completed his DPT program. He currently works as a physical therapist in New Jersey, while I work for an environmental lab in New Jersey.

“In May 2021, Rob proposed on the bluffs in Montauk, New York, one of our favorite spots. We were married on 11/11/22 with numerous teammates/Drew friends in the wedding party and in attendance. We’re expecting our first child next month (March 2024)!”

Keira Ezzo C’23 and Nicholas Beach C’23

“We met during orientation and found out we lived down the hall from one another, so we started hanging out. We went downtown on the first day of classes during the fall of 2019 and ended up getting a goldfish from the pet store (they were doing the ‘get a white gumball, win a free goldfish’ promotion).

“We started dating pretty early on and were long-distance through the pandemic when he had to move home to South Carolina. We were together all of college and really grew together. We now live together in South Carolina, are engaged, and are currently looking for a house!

“We loved our time at Drew and made several very close friendships during our time there. I’m sure there will be plenty of trips back over the years.”

Jenn Pick T’10,’24 and Todd Pick T’10

“Todd and I met at a community dinner in the basement of Seminary Hall in the spring semester of our first year of seminary together. But we really began talking to each other when we went on a cross-cultural trip together to Taize, France. We sat in the same section in the Church of Reconciliation, which is what they call the large space where worship happens at Taize three times daily. Todd started singing the Taize chants. He has a beautiful voice. He skipped from melody to harmony, and I was enchanted. We spent three hours under the stars in the shadow of the church at Taize the first night after worship talking about everything and nothing.

“We were engaged a year later, and married a year after that. Most of our wedding party was from Drew Theological School, as well as our officiant. Drew Theological School was well represented.

“At the moment, we are co-pastoring a new church start named Revive United Methodist Church in Azle, Texas. It began when three churches in our area disaffiliated on the same day. Those that wanted to remain United Methodist and take an open and affirming stance within the United Methodist tradition formed Revive United Methodist Church. We have both kept close ties with Drew. I am a DMin candidate, hoping to graduate this May. The bonds that Todd and I formed at Drew are life long ones, and we cherish the time that we spent in The Forest.”

Isabella Novsima (Theo PhD student) and Leksmana Leonard T’24

Isabella left Indonesia to earn her PhD at Drew Theological School just one month before Leksmana shared his feelings for her. One year later, Leksmana was also accepted into the Theological School, however he was unable to come to New Jersey because of the pandemic. In 2021, they got married in Indonesia. In 2022, they were both able to return to Drew in person. Over the years, they’ve had several classes together online during the pandemic and in person at Drew.

When they lived on campus, Isabella and Leksmana loved to discuss theology in the EC, Tipple Hall, Arboretum, among other campus locations. As international students, sharing receiving love from their dear friends at Drew is the highlight of their experiences. Sharing important life events, like birthdays, becomes more memorable with friends because all their family is in Indonesia. This picture, for example, was taken by one of their Drew friends on Isabella’s birthday.

Janelle Hoffman C’13 and Franklin Barbosa, Jr. C’12

Janelle and Franklin first crossed paths at Drew as political science majors and senators in Student Government but didn’t really get to know each other until they ran on opposing tickets in the spring Student Government presidential/vice presidential election. Janelle and Franklin competed against each other in several debates, attended *very* dramatic midnight regulatory hearings, and knocked on doors across campus to encourage voter turnout. These experiences sparked their initial attraction, but they kept things professional and admired only from afar.

After they each eventually confessed their crushes to the same mutual friend – Jon Squicciarini C’11 – who thankfully spilled the beans, Franklin asked Janelle to grab a bite to eat with him at the Snack Bar located in the former University Center (now the Ehinger Center) after a Student Government meeting. The conversation was effortless, the connection was obvious, and they were pretty much inseparable for the rest of the semester. Some of their other early “dates” included attending an on-campus speech by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan; participating in Drew’s then-holiest holiday, “Sloppy Saturday”; taking nighttime walks around campus; and many, many wine and movie nights – a sacred weekly staple in their household to this day. As the saying goes, “When you know, you know,” and they both definitely knew.

After over a decade together – which included graduating Drew, three apartments, Franklin’s law school graduation, and adopting their beloved dog Teddy – Franklin proposed to Janelle on the Maxwell Pier in Hoboken in December 2020. They were married on June 18, 2022, at the Madison Hotel in Morristown, a mere stone’s throw away from The Forest. Their wedding ceremony was attended by many Drew alumni and multiple professors.

Janelle and Franklin share fond memories of Drew and are still involved in the Drew community. They both previously served on the College Alumni Association and participate in various alumni panels. Franklin is presently a member of Drew’s Law Affinity Group.

Sandy (Chere) Groom C’65 and George Groom C’59, T’63

Gail, my roommate, and I decided that playing volleyball would be a great winter activity. When we finished, we were ready for a special snack. Off we went to the Drew Dining Hall, which was also a snack bar. When ordering our ice cream, we said hello to one of our ‘professors.’ Jim Mills, a graduate student, was also our ‘Study Skills’ instructor. He knew our names but was not quite sure who was Gail Mudge and who was Sandy Groom because we were always together. We really loved and benefitted from his lessons and were happy to see him. Jim’s very good friend and fellow Theological School student, George Groom, was with him. Thus, Jim introduced us to George, and we all took our ice cream to a table together. Mine was mint chip. I fell in love with George’s blue eyes at first sight, and I am still in love with him today, 61 years since that night! 

“George was a graduate student with three churches in South Jersey, and we only saw each other part of each week. Our first date was a Seminary Choir concert. George and Jim were singing, and I was in the audience. However, when George, one of the soloists, sang ‘Little Liza Jane,’ I was sure he was looking at me. George proposed on February 15, 1964. He had to be at his church on the 14th but asked me to go to the old Metropolitan Opera in New York City on the 15th. It was a very exciting afternoon performance of Verdi’s ‘Otello,’ and I was thrilled to be there even before the huge SURPRISE. During the intermission, as we were still in our very high-up Family Circle seats, George proposed and gave me a lovely ring. Of course, I said yes and then spent the rest of the opera trying to keep my ring on my finger so it would not fall off and plummet down, hitting someone on the head! My roommate that year was Beth, and George had enlisted her help with the size of my finger. Unfortunately, there was a mistake, and the ring was too big. Fortunately, I kept it on my finger even after the opera when we went straight to a basketball game in the city. We were married at the Madison Methodist Church the day after my exams, May 29, 1965.

“We have been very fortunate over the 58 years we have been married. We have two wonderful sons and five fantastic grandchildren. Jim Mills and Gail (Mudge) Binder are still our good friends, too. We started at Drew, with music being one thing we both loved. 

“We have continued to go to the Met over the years, even though we have lived in Connecticut since 1969. We have enjoyed many trips to Europe, and every trip included very special music from Royal Albert and St. David Concert Halls to evensong at cathedrals and opera by boat at La Fenice in Venice. George went from preaching in New Jersey to teaching history in Connecticut, and I taught elementary school for about 39 years. When we retired, we quoted the Shaker song ‘Tis a Gift to be Simple.’ We truly felt we came down where we ought to be in the place just right!”

The Reverend Shawn Anglim T’99 and Dr. Anne Daniell G’00,’05

“We were standing in line to register for our first semester of classes at Harvard Divinity School; we had never met, so I asked her if she had a pencil. In her faded pink sweatshirt and jeans with a rip just above the left knee, she said, ‘No, but I have a pen.’ I will always remember the first time I heard her speak. Her voice is strong and easy. Anne says she ‘heard something’ (I know, so fairytale-ish) then. She was dating a baker from New Orleans, and I was dating a harpsichord player from Old Greenwich, CT, but we were in class and had similar friend groups. Eighteen months later, we started seeing each other.

“Three proposals and five years later, in New Orleans, we married. A year later, we were at Drew. Anne started her PhD in Theology and Religious Studies. I was working at an all-boys catholic school and discerning a call to ministry – a year later, I began the MDiv program.

“I was still working, so Professor Burras let Anne sit in my History of Christianity class and record the class for me. My MDiv classmates had so much fun with that.

“We became tight with a group called the Drewids – Nicole Roskos G’00, G’03, Robert von Dienes-Oehm G’97, G’01, Morrey Davis G’98, G’03, P’21, Elizabeth Fry Davis, Matthias Beier G’97, G’02, Marion Grau G’00, G’01, Scott Kisker G’98, G’03, Joel Scandret G’01, G’06, Michael Nausner G’02, G’05, Asa Nausner T’01, G’07, T’11, and Aryana F. Bates G’98, G’01. Oh, we had so much fun! Anne and Nicole put on graduate student parties that are still legendary for the pure joy and DANCING.

“I will forever be grateful for our professors – Catherine Keller, Terry Todd, Burris, and others. These professors taught me how to think deeply, caringly. Catherine actually taught one class in our tiny apartment in Asbury. It always ran long and intense in the most wonderful way. Then we’d have to zip her over at the last minute to catch the last bus to NYC every night.

“My internship/field placement was at Washington Square UMC in Greenwich Village. It changed everything about my understanding of the church. I had felt this strong call to ministry, but church, to me, was the most boring place on Earth! Not Washington Square UMC. That little hole-in-the-wall church was alive and joyfully led by Drew alum Schuyler Rhodes. As Anne would say, it was the first time at church where she didn’t have to pretend to be anything but herself. We prepared the Sunday meal, staffed the overflow shelter at the church, and looked forward to the joy of church on Sunday morning. I have carried that joyful, prophetic spirit with me throughout my ministry.

“We’ve been in Nola for 17 years. We came after the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina to try and figure a way forward. I began working closely with two churches, Grace UMC, an all-black congregation, and First UMC, a white congregation. We merged and became FirstGrace UMC.

“Anne led an effort to start an elementary school, as all the schools had been closed—Morris Jeff Community School, an open-enrollment charter school that both our children attended. She is a full-time professor at Loyola in Theology and Religion and recently taught for Loyola’s degree program at Rayburn Correctional Institute for Men (a prison). She cherished the experience.

“We have a daughter, Mae, who is studying acting at Muhlenberg College in Allentown. She’s been in ‘Daisy Jones and the Six’ and ‘Lisa Frankenstein’. And a son, James, a junior in high school who runs cross-country, plays piano and loves basketball.

“We’re deeply invested in New Orleans and greatly enjoy it. All of it.”

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