Eric Rodriguez ’97 + Kaari Berg Rodriguez ’97

Six decades’ worth of couples share how they fell in love at 1600 Grand— and what they’ve learned since.

Eric Rodriguez ’97 + Kaari Berg Rodriguez ’97

How did you meet?

Kaari: My freshman year I had signed up to volunteer in an adult basic education class in South Minneapolis. I’d heard another student was working there, too, but starting later. My mom didn’t think I should travel on my own since it was three buses away, but I went anyway. On the bus ride back, a guy with a hat pulled almost over his eyes was staring at me, making me wonder if I should have followed my mother’s advice.

Eric: I still have that hat and use it every winter.

Kaari: We both got off at 94 and Snelling, and he followed me. Instead of waiting at the closest bus stop, I walked toward Selby, where there was more light and a bus shelter and, hopefully, other people. The guy followed me into the bus shelter—and then asked shyly, “Is this the bus to Macalester?”

Eric: I was lost. I knew if I didn’t follow her there was no hope— there were no cell phones back then.

Kaari: After that, we took the bus together each week to volunteer. We ate dinner at Kagin as soon as it opened, before catching the bus. I thought he was quiet, but I discovered that he was still getting used to the fast pace of English (after just four years in the U.S.) and soon his outgoing nature would shine through.

First date?

Kaari: After a few months of weekly bus trips, he asked me out, and we went to a movie. By the end of the year, we were dating. We said goodbye for the summer and exchanged a few letters in between summer jobs. When we came back the next fall, I was surprised how happy I was to see him again.

Years together?

Last August we celebrated 20 years of marriage.

Advice?

Have fun!


Rinal Ray ’04 + Getiria “Gitch” Onsongo ’04
Rinal Ray ’04 + Getiria “Gitch” Onsongo ’04

How did you meet?

Rinal: In our first year, Julia Podevin ’04 and I were heading to a party in a Dupre dorm room. Julia knew the guys next door, Andrew Musoke ’04 and Gitch, and wanted to say hello. That’s how we met. Then I began seeing Gitch all around campus. We started dating the next fall.

Gitch: I think the party next door was a pretext for visiting us.

First date?

Rinal: Gitch got an older student to drive us to the Mall of America. He took me to the Napa Valley Grill. It was pretty fancy.

Gitch: In my first two years at Macalester, if I ventured off campus, it was to the Mall of America. Back then we didn’t have Yelp to research restaurants, so my universe of fancy restaurants consisted of what I saw at the mall. Napa Valley Grill was the fanciest restaurant I knew, so I got the one person I knew who owned a car, Kajero Ssebbaale ’02, to drive us there.

Years together?

Rinal: We dated through most of college. We split up after Mac—we each had some growing up to do. While neither one of us would admit it then, we kept tabs on each other. I joke that Gitch was lucky that he missed my law school years and bar prep. We reconnected at our five-year Reunion (thanks, Sophia Barrett Musoke ’04 and Heidi Schmidt ’04!). We’ve known each other for 16 years and have been together for 11.

Advice?

It’s not all hearts and roses. Love is the hardest thing worth doing. For us, it has meant showing up for each other amidst tragedy, the loss of loved ones, a child born prematurely, and life’s regular difficulties. Our relationship is also the best teamwork we’ve experienced: self-advocacy and self-awareness for the benefit of the whole, strong communication (mostly), celebrating successes, enjoying the quiet moments (especially these days with a toddler), and lots of laughing. And don’t try to change the other person.


Lew Beccone ’68 + Jean Butcher Beccone ’68
Lew Beccone ’68 + Jean Butcher Beccone ’68

How did you meet?

In a biology lab

First date?

A Macalester football game

Years together?

We dated for two years at Mac, then married after graduation. We will be married 50 years in September.

Advice?

Look carefully for a fun, compatible partner, and make sure you like the person you fall in love with. You want a lover and a friend. It doesn’t hurt at all to have a large supply of patience and flexibility—and never, ever lose your sense of humor.


Jane Kennedy ’74 + Bruce Krawisz ’74
Jane Kennedy ’74 + Bruce Krawisz ’74

How did you meet?

Bruce: We became lab partners in organic chemistry sophomore year because our last names were adjacent in the alphabet.

Jane: As the semester progressed, I remember chemistry professor Emil Slowinski coming into the lab one day and looking at us with that funny grin of his and saying, “What kind of chemistry is going on here?”

First date?

Bruce: Getting ice cream at Bridgeman’s, then south of Macalester on Snelling.

Jane: Neither of us had any money, so we didn’t go off campus often. We spent a lot of time studying together. We took several classes together, including a Shakespeare class. Thanks to that great experience, we’ve traveled every summer to attend Shakespeare performances at the American Players Theater in Spring Green, Wis.

Years together?

We were married in the Macalester chapel in 1973—44 years ago—when we were 21. We have been together through medical school, residencies, fellowships, career practices, and two children—now ages 35 and 32, one of whom is also a Macalester graduate.

Advice?

Bruce: Speak truthfully.

Jane: Be loyal, help one another, treasure a shared history.


Janice Roberg ’81 + Mark Witzling ’81
Janice Roberg ’81 + Mark Witzling ’81

How did you meet?

On the first day of freshman orientation in 1977 in the upstairs of the Hungry Mind bookstore, where Mac textbooks were sold. We were both looking at the required books to see which classes we might take.

First date?

Since we had just arrived at Mac, we were making friends, eating meals together in Kagin, exploring Grand Avenue, and driving around the Twin Cities. We went to movie nights in the large Olin lecture hall. There was also a lot of trekking between Turck and Dayton Halls.

One of our most notable Mac experiences happened off campus. For January interim session our sophomore year, we proposed writing an ethnography on the lives of Caribbean sailors, and the anthropology department approved and sponsored our plan—not bad for two econ majors! We spent two weeks sailing together on a Windjammer in the Bahamas and wrote most of the paper on the flight back.

Years together?

We were married by Macalester chaplain Russell Wiggins in the Alumni House in February 1983, so we’re celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary in 2018. We have two children, Kelsey and David Witzling ’11. We’ve lived in St. Paul, Boston, Houston, South Bend, and St. Louis, which has been our home since 1995.

Advice?

Communicate, share, be respectful, and find fun things to do together.


Patrick Malloy ’10 + Diego Ruiz ’12
Patrick Malloy ’10 + Diego Ruiz ’12

How did you meet?

In Carnegie, on Diego’s first day of class—Patrick was the teaching assistant for Diego’s first-year course. After the semester was over, two of our friends (Nelli Thomas ’10 and Sam DelSerra ’12) played matchmaker.

First date?

Coffee at Cahoots on Selby Avenue. Diego will never fully forgive Patrick for failing to tell him he had a conspicuous Turkish coffee mustache.

Years together?

Close to nine. We live in San Francisco now and are getting married in April, and we’re excited to celebrate with an extremely large Macalester contingent. Sam and Nelli, who played matchmaker, will be our “best women.”

Advice?

We’re grateful to share so much of our lives together (including our Macalester experience), but we’ve always kept our own friendships and hobbies, too. That’s a key part of successfully staying together.

February 2 2018

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