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Love Stories

Feeling the Love @ UML

An open book with two pages folded inward to form a heart shape

By David Perry

UMass Lowell has its share of history, but only rarely is it told in terms of love. Couple by couple, the  stories have unfolded for more than a century. Valentine's Day seems a fitting time to recount a few of the many entries in UMass Lowell's book of love.
Family portrait of UMass Lowell alumni Ryan and Shaunna with their six-month-old son

THE DONAHERS met as freshmen, in Leitch Hall. A kid from Long Island Sound who never met a storm she didn't love, Shaunna ('04, Atmospheric Science) came to UML to study the science of weather. Ryan ('05, Business Administration) had "too much fun" his freshman year before buckling down. She helped him pass calculus. They were engaged in Boston his senior year and married in 2006. She headed to Miami for her master's and Ph.D., and he followed. She is now a senior lecturer at Emory University, while he has forged a high-watt career as vice president of the high-end audio manufacturer Meridian America. "We really loved our time in Lowell," she says. They live in Atlanta now with their son, Carter, who was born in July.

UMass Lowell alumni MK and Shuling Raheja pose on a hillside that looks over of a sprawling lakefront community
WHEN MK REHEJA '86 left his home in India in 1981 and headed to UMass Lowell for graduate school, a new life awaited him. "I didn't know what to expect. It was a whole new world to me," says Raheja, who earned his Ph.D. in polymer science and plastics engineering. He not only discovered a successful career path in the medical device industry through the mentoring of one of his professors, he also found love. Working in a campus lab one day in the spring of 1984, he met a Taiwanese student named Shuling '86 who was pursuing a master's degree, also in polymer science. That chance meeting between the two graduate students turned out to be a perfect match. The couple married three years later. Their daughter, Anita, was born in 1988. The Rahejas now live in Southern California and have traveled all over the world. MK is now head of global research and development for Johnson & Johnson Vision, overseeing all its technology and product development involving opthalmic implants. They say their experiences at UMass Lowell were instrumental in shaping their lives. Says MK: "I got a great education, and a professor who led me to a career. And a girlfriend who today is my wife. What more could you ask from a school?"
UMass Lowell alumni Brian and Amy Wint pose in front of the rolling vineyards of Napa Valley
THE WINTS first noticed one another at a Sox game, part of Opening Week activities in September 2001. She was a freshman, he was a junior. "Amy is a social butterfly, so I didn't get that much time to talk to her," recalls Bryan ('03, '05, Sociology, Community and Social Psychology). He still remembers her sitting in the bleachers, and her laugh on the bus ride to Fenway. Eventually, romance blossomed. On Valentine's Day 2010, Amy said yes. They married at the newly renovated UML Bellegarde Boathouse. They live in Waltham now with their dog, Remy. Amy ('06, '09, Community Health Education, Health Care Policy and Administration) is a project manager at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Bryan is director of advising and academic pathways at Middlesex Community College. "We find time here and there to surprise one another with an exciting travel experience," says Bryan, "throwing a party with friends and family, or trying to take in a River Hawks hockey game!"
A photo of alumni Jim and Valerie Giovino-Barry at graduation in 1988
JIM BARRY AND VALERIE GIOVINO-BARRY met in 1985 in a graduate school class called Selected Topics in Biotechnology. Their paths crossed in and out of the classroom. "Jim and I both belonged to the Graduate Student Association," says Valerie. Sparks flew, and the couple began dating. They were married in 1989 and moved to New Jersey for work. Over the years, Valerie ('84, '87, Biological Science) has held positions in biological research at Massachusetts General Hospital, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Schering-Plough. In 1997, she hung up her microscope to become a stay-at-home mom. Jim ('88, Ph.D., Biochemistry) is now the CEO of InspireMD, a startup medical device company. They are once again residents of the Bay State, living in Marlborough. After 29 years of marriage, some things have not changed. "Our success in staying together all this time is being each other's best friend," says Valerie. The couple has three children: James, 18; Meaghan, 22, and Catherine, 25, who is a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering at UMass Lowell.
UMass Lowell alumni John and Ella pose in front of a Rocky landscape with their six-month-old son and Golden Doodle puppy
CALL IT PITCH PERFECT. The O'Briens both played soccer, but John O'Brien ('10, Criminal Justice) shoehorned four years of U.S. Army service into his time at UML. He transferred from Northeastern in 2002, playing River Hawk men's soccer in '02 and '03. Following his junior year, he felt called to serve his country. He came back to campus to resume his education and met Ella Merullo ('11, Nursing) in January 2009. She was a defender for the women's soccer team. They started dating a year later. John's willingness to heed the call of duty impressed Ella. "It takes a special person to take a break from their own life to serve our country," she says. On top of that, Ella loves John's sense of humor. He is amazed at what a hard worker she is. She is a registered nurse at Beverly Hospital, and he works for Raytheon. They have a six-month-old son, William, and a Golden Doodle puppy named Bradley.
UMass Lowell alumni Frank Talty with his wife Patty Talty, pictured in front of the ocean in the summer with sunglasses on
NATIVE LOWELLIANS, raised in a city filled with political intrigue, Frank and Patty Talty have always had an unquenchable thirst for politics. Both were active in student government. Frank was the first Student Trustee to serve on the university's Board of Trustees. Patty was a student senator and president of her class for three years. Frank ('77, Political Science) was the student rep on the board planning the merger of Lowell State College and Lowell Technological Institute into the University of Lowell. He hosted campus meetings to inform students about the changes. Patty  ('78, American Studies, Secondary Education) showed up as a freshman. Attendance dwindled. Eventually, it was only Patty. And Frank. Another merger was formed. They married in 1979 and practiced law together for years. "UMass Lowell brought us together and continues to play a huge role in our lives," she says. Frank is assistant dean in the College of Fine Arts Humanities and Social Sciences. Patty lectures in law and politics in the Political Science Department. Frank has one daughter, Erica Talty Jussaume, who is 46 and lives in Dracut with her husband Michael. The Taltys have two grandsons, Ryan, 22 and Matthew, 20.