Remembering the Days: #UofSCLove

Remembering the Days — episode 40

When we think back to our college days, some of us remember old boyfriends and girlfriends or maybe former roommates that we still stay in touch with. And for some, college is where they met that special someone — the person with whom they fell in love and then, quite possibly, lived happily ever after.


Roses are red, violets are blue, life is the sweetest, because I met you!

When we think back to our college days, some of us remember old boyfriends and girlfriends or maybe former roommates that we still stay in touch with. And for some, college is where they met that special someone — the person with whom they fell in love and then, quite possibly, lived happily ever after.

I’m Chris Horn, your host for Remembering the Days, and today, in honor of Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we’re not looking at University of South Carolina history, per se, but rather the personal histories of a few alumni who found true love here when they were students. These eight stories are quite different from one another but they all have a common thread — the backdrop of the South Carolina campus.

Love is in the air, so let’s get started.

We’ve all heard of love at first sight, and Mohammed Behbooei and Amy Harrington can tell you all about it. They first laid eyes on one another in a summer school class in 2016. But as is the case with many love stories, there were complications. Mohammed was a graduate student teaching the undergraduate computer science course that Amy had enrolled in. Romantic relationships in those situations are frowned upon to put it mildly. As much as he wanted to, Mohammed wouldn’t allow himself to so much as smile at Amy, who sat on the front row of the class. And she was too nervous to make her feelings known to him. On the last day of the course, Mohammed was beside himself — he was worried that he would never see Amy again.

Mohammed Behbooei: “I didn't know that she felt the same about me because I was — I never had a chance to express myself and say, 'Hey, you know, here's the situation.' So I was a little bummed out the last session that she turned in her final exam. I was like, ‘Man, this might be the last time I see this girl.’ So it was kind of a sad moment.”

Amy Harrington: “Yeah, and from my side of things, I even kind of avoided talking to him or anything just so that I didn't, like, sound weird or anything, I was always so nervous. So we barely even spoke like probably the whole four weeks other than just like me turning in my exams and quizzes.”

So Amy handed in her final exam, and Mohammed watched wistfully as she walked away. But it turned out that Amy wasn’t really going to just walk away.

Amy Harrington: “Once I saw that the grades were submitted, I was like, ‘OK, I think I'm good. The class is done.’ And so I was like, well, you know, the whole time I was trying not to get attached or anything because I figured, you know, he's the instructor — this is not going to result in anything. So I was trying not to get my hopes up, but I was like, well, I could just friend him on Facebook, and I'll know if he accepts it, maybe it can go somewhere.

And then I think after I friended him, he liked my profile photo. So I figured that was a good sign. And then we were able to start talking.”

In fact, they talked a lot, all the way through a three-year long-distance relationship between Atlanta and Charleston. Mohammed and Amy tied the knot a couple of years ago and they now live in Atlanta.

Roses are red, violets are blue,
I’ll never forget the day
I fell in love with you.

So love at first sight really is a thing. But what about love at first sound? Aaron White will tell you that he was enamored with Kara’s voice in their first phone conversation. She was a junior, he was a freshman, and she was calling to invite him to a campus ministry event.

Aaron White: I plugged in my phone because back then we plugged in phones in the dorms. I don't know if they still do, but I plugged in my phone. And the first call that I had on my phone was this lovely voice, enticing me to come and experience campus ministry. And I have to admit, at that time, that was probably not the first thing on my mind as a freshman. But honestly, I was very intrigued to receive this invitation. And so I, I really couldn't say no. After being invited to kind of a freshman mixer event that they were having, I got to go. Our meeting space at the Presbyterian Student Center is downstairs, so I went downstairs into a big meeting room and met Kara and found that I loved everything about her as much as I loved her voice. And I was infatuated pretty quickly with her.

Things didn’t get romantic right away. Months passed, and one evening Aaron walked Kara back to her dorm.

Kara: I was living in Woodrow on the Horseshoe that year. And he walked me back and saw me to the door and he said good night. And he gave me a hug at the door and that — he had never done that before. And it was nice. It was a friendly hug and I liked it. And I remember going into my apartment there in Woodrow and turning to my roommate and saying, like, ‘I think maybe Aaron likes me, you know, and I think maybe I like him, too.’ And it was a few weeks after that that I think we were able to go on a date, you know, a few more interactions. But remember, for me, that was a moment where I thought, you know, I think there's something else going on here.

Aaron suggests there might have been some divine intervention in what happened next.

Aaron: And I am a praying person. And I had prayed about, I wasn't looking to date around. I honestly wanted to find one person. People may find it hard to believe, but I — as soon as I saw Kara, I was attracted to her. And it may have taken us a year to kind of, really, it took me a year to kind of build up the nerve to do things I'd never done, like actually approach somebody. But I did feel an attraction to her just right away. And so it's — I always tell people I don't promote campus ministry as a dating service, but you can't be surprised if it happens there.”

Kara and Aaron got married in 2003. He’s now a Presbyterian minister, and they’re raising two children in Missouri.

When Ali and Andy Laughlin were on campus, their love for one another soared to wuthering heights — well, OK, that might be overstating things just a bit. Basically, they got to know each at two very high places — the climbing wall at the Wellness and Fitness Center and on top of the Maxcy Monument.

They were both student instructors at the climbing wall — each of them thought the other was cute — but she was too nervous to initiate a conversation. She would climb the wall, come back down and make her escape without ever talking to him. That went on for a while, but eventually, he was able to get her phone number. On their first date as sophomores, they went to a coffee shop, then put their climbing skills to use by scaling the top of the Maxcy Monument where they talked for hours. In fact, they talked so long, Ali’s roommates got worried about where she was. I’m not sure if they would have been more — or less — concerned had they known she was sitting atop the monument on the Horseshoe.

A few weeks after they graduated, Andy was ready to pop the question and he took Ali back to the scene of their first date.

Andy Laughlin: So it just kind of felt like the right full circle to come around from our first date to proposing. So it was funny. I had such a difficult time convincing her to climb back up on the statue. And I'm like, you got to climb up on top.

Ali Laughlin: “Yeah. And once we got on top, we were just kind of like talking or whatever. And then, you know how the Horseshoe has the bricks with the names on them. A lady came by and was like looking for a brick, like right underneath us as he was about to propose, like he had already kind of started talking like, you know, ‘We've done all this together,’ blah, blah, like building up to it. And then she's like, ‘Do you guys know where this brick is?' And we're like, maybe over there somewhere. It might have been like the Darius Rucker brick or something, but just completely interrupted. And then he was like, OK, and then started back and then proposed — got down like on a knee on like kind of the ledge and asked me to marry him up there. 

Ali said yes, they climbed down from the monument and a few months later they were married. That was almost five years ago, and the Laughlins now live in Tennessee with their two children.

Roses are red, violets are blue,
Having you by my side
Is a dream come true.

Dawn and Nabuo Yamashiro met in the Japan Club at the university — Nabuo is a native of Japan — and it was his laid-back style that Dawn found attractive. She says she knew when she first saw him in the Russell House cafeteria in 1989 that one day he would be her husband.

Dawn is from New Jersey and didn’t know much about college football or tailgating when she came to South Carolina but got introduced to it by a friend. It was fun for a while, but the party scene wasn’t really her style.

Dawn Yamashiro: And I was one of those that I went to a couple of college parties on the weekends with my roommates. And that was kind of not my scene. So I kind of liked the fact that Nabuo and I could do things on our own and together and not in such a big, huge party-ish way because it's not kind of my style. So that's when I realized again that we kind of fit together. His style was more my style where we kind of laid back and chilled and weren't so much into that party scene. So that's kind of when I think I realized that his way was kind of more my way.

I like the way Dawn phrases that — ‘his style was more my style.’ The Yamashiros have been married for nearly 30 years and they’re half wondering if history might repeat itself. Their daughter is a student at South Carolina, and she, like her parents were decades ago, is a member of the Japan Club.

Emily and Ross Lordo were freshmen at South Carolina in 2014 and they were both already familiar with campus, having grown up going to games there. Emily’s parents had met at the university back in their day. Emily and Ross became University Ambassadors — tour guides for prospective students — and both were also part of Greek life.

In their junior year, they went to a semi-formal at Emily’s sorority sort of by happenstance. He was filling in for a friend who was to have been Emily’s date but had to back out.

That turned out to be providential, because they started dating not long after, then got engaged in 2019 and married in 2020. They don’t have children yet — Ross still has to complete a residency on the way to becoming a doctor — but they can already imagine their future children enjoying some of the same experiences they had at South Carolina. 

Emily Lordo: “I remember telling my parents when they dropped me off on Move In Day, I was like, you guys don't need to worry because I know this already feels like home and it has for a long time. There's nothing to worry about. I was really comfortable and I just don't think that there's anything like that feeling.

Ross Lordo: I can't imagine our children not being at games and kind of enjoying the special moments at USC that I know we really value from growing up.”

When Will and Victoria first went out a few years ago, it was a double date to a swing dance — but they weren’t each other’s dance partners. Victoria, a music education major, was trying to set up Will, a music performance major, with a friend of hers whom she knew had a crush on Will. As the evening progressed, it became apparent there weren’t any sparks between Will and Victoria’s friend. Instead, Victoria and Will started talking that night, and by the wee hours of the morning, they were the ones on the same sheet of music.

Victoria: “And he and I ended up talking all night like we didn't really realize we hadn't been in an isolated situation together yet. So we just kind of ended up hanging out all night and we hung out till 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning because my roommate actually locked us out. So we kind of sat in the hall until she finally let us back in. And then after that, the rest is kind of history. I think he asked me out two days later and I think that was it.”

Will and Victoria got engaged on campus, and they’re planning to get married in June. And, we hope, they’ll be making sweet music together for a long time.

Roses are red, violets are blue,
Love never crossed my mind
the day I met you.

So we’ve talked about love at first sight, love at first sound and love that sort of blossomed out of long conversations. What about people who initially were not enamored with their eventual soulmate? Kelly DeWeil can check that box.

She and David met at a campus ministry event, but love was not in the air. Just liking David didn’t even seem like a possibility at first.

David DeWeil: “Over the course of the next couple of months, I actually got on your nerves, right?

Kelly DeWeil: David was a showoff. And so, yes, he liked to be the center of attention at every social function that we had with that organization.

David DeWeil: And that was not you.

Kelly DeWeil: That was not attractive to me.

David DeWeil: Yeah. But I think over time…

Kelly DeWeil: I got to know him in his heart and got to know him beyond just his, you know, showmanship, his, you know, trying to be funny and be the center of attention. And I could see beyond that.”

Their first date was on campus at the Melton Memorial Observatory.

David DeWeil: “When I was walking up to the observatory, Kelly was sitting at that like stone seat or whatever it is, bench seat, a stone bench right in front of the Melton Observatory. And I remember walking up to that and I saw her. I remember she smiled and I remember it was like I saw her for the first time because I remember thinking something was like — something just clicked for me. It was different at that moment, which was unlike any other time before that, and I don't know what it was —

Kelly DeWeil: because we'd known each other for a number of months by then.

David DeWeil: So, yeah, so we spent some time in the observatory checking out the planets with the crew that was there and then walked over to Gambrell, that third floor balcony area and talked about all kinds of things for hours until like 1 in the morning. And I think from then on there, the relationship grew.”

The DeWeils got married in 2003, the weekend after Kelly graduated. They have two children now, and David is the associate principal for the university’s Capstone Scholars Program.

Our last lovebirds are not graduates of the University of South Carolina, but I think we can call them honorary alumni. Justin and Stephanie Capone were study-abroad students from Australia when they came to South Carolina in the fall of 2015. Falling in love with one another was the last thing on their minds. They were having too much fun learning about America and specifically about Southern culture.

They met at Maxcy, the residence hall for international and American students.

Stephanie Capone: “And I heard him before I saw him because he was so loud. And I remember thinking to myself, ‘Oh, another annoying Australian. Like, he's so loud and cocky and like —

Justin: Yeah, I was having fun. I got there and I just thought, you know, this is a chance for me to just be me and go wild. So I was just always very loud. Me and my best mate from Australia, we were probably the loudest ones there. We were just always yelling and screaming and singing the Australian anthem and —

Stephanie Capone: Up to no good

Justin Capone: Up to no good.”

Justin and Stephanie found themselves thrown together on weekend trips with other international students and, almost in spite of themselves, they began to fall for one another. Stephanie ended up in the hospital for emergency gallbladder surgery, and Justin stayed by her side even thought they hadn’t made their feelings known. Not long before that fall semester ended, they were in love, but Justin was headed back to Australia and Stephanie had one more semester at Carolina — or so she thought.

Stephanie Capone: “I remember at that point in time of lying in my bed in DeSaussure. And I was just — I couldn't function, thinking, ‘What do I do? I've met this person and I actually — I really, really like him. But am I that crazy person that leaves this amazing international experience to follow some guy home?’ Like, I'm a very strong, independent woman. I swore that I would never be that person. And I think the three days I was just beside myself, I didn't know what to do. And then I got a call from my university in Australia and they said, ‘Oh, Steph, we're really sorry, but we've made an error on your transcript. And you actually, if you stay in America, you're going to be over studying and you'd have to revoke credit. So you probably need to come home,’ which was the best news I've ever heard. They were so apologetic and I was saying, ‘Oh, no, no, it's OK. It's OK. That's good. That's fine. No problem.”

Stephanie returned to Australia and she and Justin picked up where they left off at South Carolina. They’re married now, living down under with a beautiful little girl named Francesca. Maybe sometime in the future, she’ll have the same longing for a study abroad experience and become an honorary Gamecock, just like her parents did.

Roses are red, violets are blue,
But I don’t want flowers,
I only want you!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Valentine's edition of Remembering the Days. A special shout out to C.J. Lake, the university’s social media director who prompted dozens of Gamecocks to share their campus loves stories on Facebook. C.J. and her husband didn’t meet at the university, but they did get engaged on campus so I suppose they have their own Gamecock love story.

In the next episode, we’re going to catch up with Jotaka Eaddy, the first Black woman elected president of Student Government at the university. She came here from a house on a dirt road in rural South Carolina and now she’s a mover and shaker in Silicon Valley.

The podcast is produced by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. I’m Chris Horn and I appreciate you spending a little extra time here today. See you next time.

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