IU East alumni sweethearts share their story

IU East alumni sweethearts share their story

We know connections to Indiana University East is strong. IU East alumni not only receive a great education here, but this also is the place where some alumni have met the love of their life.

Alumni couples share a very special bond with each other. Both partners being graduates of IU East has its perks – you just know what your partner is talking about when referring to a place on campus, a piece of history or tradition, or that professor who made a major impact. You both have a deep understanding of the IU East culture. College is an unforgettable experience that creates lifelong friendships and for some, a romantic partner or even a spouse.

The Office of Alumni Affairs is invites alumni to share their stories of how they met their spouses or partners while they were students at IU East.

As IU East approaches its 50th anniversary in 2021, Alumni Affairs is hopes to collect at least 50 stories and photos of alumni couples to use in a number of avenues and to incorporate into the celebration. Share you story and photos by filling out the online form at iue.edu/alumni/sweethearts or email Terry Wiesehan, director of Alumni Relations, at twiesaha@iue.edu.

Thank you to some of the alumni who have shared their story just in time for Valentine’s Day. Ellis

Christa ’01 and Kenny Ellis ’02
We met in high school and graduated in May, we were married in July, and started college at IU East together in August 1996. We graduated from IU East in 2001. Although we didn’t meet at IU East, it was a great option for us because we were both able to earn our degrees without incurring any debt. One of our four kids was born while we were attending IU East. I was pregnant with the second at my IU East graduation ceremony. Our oldest daughter is an IU East student now.

I have a picture of the two of us in our IU East (Pioneers) basketball uniforms. I was actually pregnant with the daughter who is now a student during the last game I played for IU East (though I didn’t know I was pregnant then and just thought I was REALLY tired running up and down the court that weekend).
Christa Ellis


Leigh Anne Ernst ’13 and David Ernst
David and I met our freshman year in the old student activities center in Whitewater Hall.
Leigh Anne Ernst




Erica (Thompson) ’11 and Dustin Gwinnup ’11
It was August 2009, in the basement of Hayes Hall, right before the first statistics class of the semester (with Marcy Jance). I was in the hallway with the entire rest of the class patiently waiting our turn to file in the classroom. I was very nervous that semester because I was also taking Accounting 202 with Professor Mark Gardner. I had heard that he was a VERY tough instructor and wanted to know if anyone else had prior experience with him. Courageously, I yelled in the hallway, “Has anyone by chance had Accounting 202 with Mark Gardner?” After hearing a couple of crickets, a very shy, but polite young guy spoke, “Yes, I have.” We began to speak and I realized that the course might not be so bad. But what I really couldn’t get off my mind was the spark I felt upon talking to this young guy. We continued talking – becoming “Facebook friends” – and eventually would meet for lunches/study sessions at Subway or the library in Hayes. Our classmates in statistics soon took notice to our attraction and flirtation.

So, it was finally the night of my 21st birthday. I was going out for some drinks with classmates after class and I decided to invite him. He came, I got up the courage, and casually mentioned that it would be so nice to be his girlfriend some day. To my dismay, I was rejected. He said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have time for a girlfriend.” But for whatever reason – probably my rebellious nature – I didn’t give up. Eventually, we went on a date – the most AWKWARD date I’d ever been on. I was perfectly fine in the friend zone after that experience. But, that young, shy, nice guy was changing and suddenly was smitten with me. In January 2010, he asked me to be his girlfriend by saying, “So, you think we should change our Facebook status?” Lol. But, after many more dates, flirting, getting to know each other, he proposed to me on November 11, 2010, and then we got married exactly one year later.

Now seven years of marriage, two children, and two dogs later, it’s hard to think it all started with a small town girl living in a lonely world who met a boy (born and raised in Falmouth, Indiana) who took that same nighttime statistics class.
Erica Gwinnup


Ashley (Hall) ’15 and Michael Teufel ’15
Before a canoe trip in biology, Michael and I had never even spoken before. After we attended the extra credit trip in Ron Itnyre’s class, we were more or less inseparable. Through the Foam Dart Society, nursing program, and Honors Program, Michael and I made friends with whom we are still very close to this day. We had many opportunities presented to us throughout our time at IU East that brought us closer together. We traveled to Arizona twice for the nursing program, once to administer vaccinations in Chinle on a Navajo reservation and once to present a poster at the National Nurses’ Association conference. We served together as officers for the Association of Nursing Students. We also traveled to Michigan twice to present for the Mid-East Honors Association Conference.

The organizations and experiences we were offered made IU East family to us. So much so, that Michael proposed to me in front of everyone at our Nursing Pinning Ceremony.

Alexis McDavid, one of my best friends who I met through Honors, was my Maid of Honor in our wedding. Hannah Sutton, with whom we went through the nursing program with, was one of my bridesmaids. Brandon Arnett and Aaron Meyers, friends we made through the Foam Dart Society, were two of Michael’s groomsmen. Many of the faculty, with whom we were both very close, came to our wedding, and we have since been back to visit or have lunch with many of them. IU East was our home for four years and will always be our family. We now have two beautiful little girls, Cadence and Kinsley, who may be future little Red Wolves themselves.
Ashley (Hall) Teufel


Mary (Bennett) ’15 and Nick Frank ’13
Mary and I are high school/ college sweethearts. We did all high school stuff: Homecoming, Snowball, and prom then at the end of the school year in May 2009 when I was graduating. I knew that I was going to be attending IU East to pursue a degree in business and to also play for the very first men’s tennis team. With Mary still back home in high school and doing the extracurricular activities it was hard for us to see each other. I would come home and try to make it to any of her sporting events, and she did the same for me with tennis or any other activity held on campus. She got to know the campus and found out that IU East had an excellent nursing program. Mary graduated high school in May 2010 and started her career at IU East. Mary and I were involved with IU East quite a bit. We were both Student Ambassadors for the Office of Admissions. Part of Student Government Association (SGA), Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow (STAT), and Student Activities.

In July 2015, I had a surprise engagement party for Mary. I planned the engagement by holding a family July birthday party. After we ate our food and sang “Happy Birthday,” I had one more surprise for Mary I had a cookie cake made that said “Mary, Turn Around.” As she turned around I was on one knee with the ring showing it to her and asked her to marry me. About a year later July 16, 2016, we were married with all of our friends and family by our side. We had the most beautiful day that we could ask for. We got married at Walhill Farms in Batesville, IN.

And the memories didn’t end there. Mary and I bought a house in Brookville, Indiana, by Brookville Lake. Then, on October 20, 2017, Mary gave me a world changing gift. She told me that she was pregnant and that my family is growing by one. So nine months later on April 17, 2018, I got to welcome my daughter, Scarlett Claire Frank, to the world. It didn’t take long for her to become an IU fan. By two days old she was sporting an IU hat. So all in all I was the world’s happiest dad as was Mary being a mother. It was great to see all my family welcoming her into the world, but never in a million years did I think my IU East family would take the time to recognize my family on the Alumni Facebook Page. When you have a school that you went to and loved, recognize my daughter, that’s a real university family. IU East was my home away from home and with all the staff helping my family get a degree and helping us into the real world means a lot. Hopefully in the near future they will have another Frank student getting a degree and getting the same help and love that Mary and I had.
Nick Frank


Misty ’04 and Timothy Hollis ’95
Benjamin Hunter and I were very involved with Student Government Association in 1993. Tim was interviewing for a chief justice position. Ben and I were doing the interview, and for me it was love at first sight.

However, it wasn’t for Tim. You see, he is nine years older, and he felt I was too young. Well, I kept hoping and flirting for two years. Finally, in early 1995, he called me and asked if we could get together. By that August, we were a couple and were married in 1997.

We know there is little chance our paths would have ever crossed if not for IU East.
Misty Hollis



Amy ’17 and Dan Howard ’15
Our story began in 1999 at the IU East campus in Connersville, Indiana, in Jerry Wilde’s educational psychology class. Dan always showed up to class late and seemed cocky but friendly with everyone in school from faculty to students. One day, he showed fellow student Todd Zimmerman and I a picture of himself with his nine siblings and nephew. Todd and I were intrigued and eventually Dan invited us to his house which was less than a mile from the Connersville campus. I became known as Todd’s friend and we began hanging out more and more.

I was needing a book for a class and Dan offered to pick it up for me in Connersville and bring it to Whitewater Hall in Richmond. We began spending more time together outside of class and building relationships with many of the same faculty, staff and students. On campus, we frequented Subway interacting with the workforce there as well. Dan was active in the Campus Christian Fellowship and I began attending events with him from time to time. I went from being Todd’s friend, to Dan’s friend, fiancé and eventually his wife on May 19, 2001.

Once married, we took a slight sabbatical from our college education and focused on our marriage and family. The completion of our college degree was always important to us as a homeschool family as well as future marketability. In May 2007, I completed my bachelor’s of general studies degree, pregnant with child number three with the support of friends and family. In 2012, uncertainty within the United States Postal Service led Dan to return to IU East to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration. In May 2015, with the challenge of working full time, balancing studies and responsibilities with the addition of children number four and five, Dan completed his degree at Indiana University East. We have kept in touch with Jerry through the years and on the first day of class Jerry warns students to “be careful who you sit next to because there was this couple that met in my class and went on to have a ton of children.” Dan continues to work for the United States Postal Service and I continue to homeschool our six children. Dr. Jerry Wilde holds a special place in our hearts as an educator, mentor, friend and initiator of our family. In 2019, we will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary.
Amy Howard


Dee Reese ’07, ’11 and Gale McAbee ’10
My wife and I met while we were taking classes.
Gale McAbee




Amy (Fox) Thompson ’13 and Chris Thompson ’13
We met in 2008 in A&P. We were both fresh off a bad breakup, so I wasn’t too sure about it, but my cousin Jonathan kept reassuring me that Chris was a good guy and that I should give him a chance.

So one day, Chris, Jonathan and myself all went to Buffalo Wild Wings together to have lunch. I thought “this will give me a chance to get to know Chris but having my cousin there will help keep it casual.” And we had a blast. We had so much fun that year. I remember always going to Buffalo Wild Wings or IHOP. I remember both of us jamming out to Chevelle or Linkin Park in my car. I remember not paying attention in class because I couldn’t stop thinking about this boy I was falling in love with.

We started officially dating October 6, 2008. Now we’ve been married for six years, have a beautiful home, two amazing children, careers we both love, and I wouldn’t change any of it.
Amy Thompson


Alexis Thiery ’17 and Seth Gard ’17
Seth and I met at Brewfus sophomore year. I can’t live without coffee, and he always played cards. I didn’t remember talking to him (I hadn’t had my coffee yet) but he remembered me. Months later, we met again and have been together ever since. Christmas Day he asked me to marry him!

Thank you IU East. You have provided us both unbelievable opportunities, and you provided us with each other.
Alexis Thiery


Connie (Brim) Siders ’86, ’90 and Carl Siders ’91
I was introduced to Carl outside of IU East.Siders

However, in January 1989 we started James Hmurovich’s class and actually sat on opposite sides of the room!

Throughout the term we got to know each other.

We started dating around Valentine’s Day.

We married March 18th, 1989!

2019 we will have been married 30 years.

Not only did we graduate from IU East … but both of our sons did, too.
Connie Siders




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