This story appeared in the winter 2013 edition of Medill Magazine.
Somewhere, on some college campus, in some school of a university, love is blooming. That spark of interest, that intellectual and challenging conversation that makes the spark grow just a bit more. That butterfly bouncing in the stomach. Many people have found love on the lakeshore in Evanston, and a number of couples’ history starts at Medill. Here are a few of their stories.
1. Those Summer Nights
Jenny Hontz (BSJ93) and Victor Chi (BSJ91) may have crossed paths as undergraduates at Medill, but if they did, neither one of them recalls it. When they did meet,in the summer of 2003 as instructors for the Medill Northwestern Journalism Institute — better known as the Cherub program — it was friendship at first sight.
For two summers, their friendship grew.
One day during the summer of 2005, the Medill Cherubs instructors were grading at The Globe, a café attached to the Hilton Orrington, and Jenny was in a bad mood. Victor got up and said he would be right back. It was 106 degrees that day in Evanston.
He was gone for more than 20 minutes.
“It turns out he went all the way back to the dorm, in the heat, to get his wallet and he walked all the way to the Whole Foods, and he bought me some strawberries and chocolate to cheer me up,” Jenny says, as if it happened last week. “That was before we were dating, and I thought it was so sweet.”
It was this kind of gesture that lit a flame to the spark that was growing between them.
“There was a lot of flirting that went on, and we kissed the final night of the program in 2005,” says Jenny, an award-winning freelance writer. “It sounds very high school —when you’re teaching the Cherubs you kind of regress like the high schoolers a bit.”
Living in the dorm rooms as instructors and being together 24/7 for five weeks can be intense. “Being in that environment does lend itself to developing a relationship,” says Victor, the managing editor of ThePostGame.com. “We always joke about how when you’re in Cherubs, whether you’re a student or an instructor, you’re really contained in this bubble.”
Once they returned to California, their long- distance relationship (Victor lived in the Bay area, and Jenny lived in Los Angeles) blossomed. They returned to Cherubs as co-head instructors in 2006 but kept their relationship under wraps for the sake of professionalism. It didn’t work as many students figured it out. They married Labor Day weekend, 2007, and had a son, Maxwell, in 2010.
As a baby gift, the Cherubs instructors they worked with sent them a onesie that reads,“Cherubs Class of 2027”—the year Max turns 17.
“Cherubs will always hold a huge place in my heart because that’s where I met my husband,” Jenny says. “Cherubs play a huge role in our love story.”
2. Love That Grows
World War II U.S. Army veteran Bruce Hallenbeck (BSJ50) got a lot out of the GI Bill—a top-notch Medill education, and the love of his life. A Chicago native, Bruce met Carol Wagner (BSJ49) when she needed a guide to the Back of the Yards neighborhood on the city’s South Side to do research for an advertising class.
The two journeyed south on a Saturday. Bruce paid her way on the El and a whole series of streetcars. When they finished, it was nighttime. “I looked at him, and he looked at me, and he swallowed and said, ‘Would you like to have supper downtown?’” Carol says.
They had dinner at a “nice, but modest restaurant” in the Loop. Carol ordered and when Bruce swallowed again and ordered the least expensive item on the menu, she asked to pay her own way. Bruce insisted he pay.
When the bill came, he realized he forgot the tax. Carol slipped him a few cents, and they were on their way. But then they got on the El platform. “He gulped again because he had forgotten he had to pay for his El fare,” says Carol, who taught journalism for 27 years before retiring.“So,I paid his way on the El,and when we got back to Northwestern, I said, let’s go to a movie; I’ll pay.”
Their marriage has been nothing short of an adventure, with job-related stints in Chicago, Wichita, Kan., Raleigh, N.C., Philadelphia, Seattle and Orange County, Calif., where they now live. What has kept them going strong are shared values, Bruce says.
“Of course there was the physical attraction because that’s usually how it starts,” he says. “But the fact that we had such similar values, that is when you begin to think in terms of a long-term relationship.”
After Carol graduated, she worked in Chicago. “We just enjoyed being together,” Carol says. “After a while it just turns into companionship.”
The couple married two days before Bruce’s graduation in 1950 and honeymooned in Gatlinburg, Tenn. They have three sons. Aside from the career moves — Bruce is a semi-retired senior vice president at Morgan Stanley— they also love to travel, having visited all seven continents, 104 countries and all 50 states. And that companionship has transformed into a great love.
“Well, it grows,” Carol says. “It may not be the great love immediately.But,overtime,it gets richer and deeper,until it becomes part of you.”
3. Our Song
It was November 1974. The song was “Fire” by the Ohio Players, and the dance was “The Bump.” Cheryl Mattox (BSJ75, MSJ76), a Memphis belle and senior at Medill, and James (Jim) Berry (BSJ77), a sophomore from Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, danced their first dance together at a Goodrich after party.
She had seen him before at Norris three weeks earlier at a fraternity dance given by the fraternity he was pledging — Alpha Phi Alpha. Cheryl was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority since she was a freshman and was greatly admired on campus, Jim says. Surely she didn’t have time for a sophomore. Did she?
“I walked into the dance and saw this handsome guy who was at the door, and I thought, oh, he’s kind of cute,” Cheryl says from their home in Coral Gables, Fla. “So I told my girlfriend to go find out who he was, which was kind of bold since I was there with another guy. And she came back and said, ‘he’s just a pledge,’ and kind of dismissed him ... And I thought, oh, he’s still kind of cute.”
Jim, who is now a sports anchor at WFOR-TV in Miami, remembers Cheryl catching his eye much earlier at a reception her sorority gave for the Alphas. “Cheryl walked in, and I could tell everyone kind of revered her a little bit,” he says.
On their first date three weeks later, Jim, the “poor college student,” says he tried to impress Cheryl by spending all of his money for a movie, dinner and a trip to the arcade. Then the car battery died, and they were stranded in Chicago. In December. Jim flagged down a cab driver to give him a jump, but didn’t have any money to tip him. Despite Cheryl’s quick reach into her bag for money, Jim had no idea what she was thinking.
“I was thinking, he has a lot of nerve, taking me out on a date and running out of money,” Cheryl recalls. “Oh no, this is the end. This is the very last date.”
“But it was actually just the beginning,” Jim says.
Despite that inauspicious first date, Jim “kept coming around,” says Cheryl, who started LaBelle Media Group two years ago and writes a self-esteem blog for teenage girls (girliamallthat.com). “He was just a fun guy, and he knew how to dance, and he just had that whole city vibe about him, and I just liked him.”
As both were making their way in their journalism careers, Cheryl visited Jim in Charlotte in 1978. They went out dancing at a disco, and Jim proposed with a “little bitty, teeny-weeny diamond ring he bought with his first credit card. They married Dec. 16, 1978 in Memphis, and have two children, Andre, 27, and Jasmine, 22.
While their classes at Medill didn’t overlap, what they learned there is something they continue to carry with them: Trust, communication, friendship and compromise. “The great and fortunate thing for us is that we’ve grown together at the same pace,"Jim says.
4. Long Nights at the Daily
When Carl Schierhorn (BSJ71,MSJ73) saw Ann Beasley (BSJ72, MSJ73) on a date with another guy at a basketball game after he had already taken her out during Thanksgiving weekend in 1969, his “stomach dropped about six inches.” Then a sophomore, Carl says he realized he didn’t want Ann to go out with anyone but him.
The couple, who met during Ann’s orientation week and got to know each other at the Daily Northwestern, started dating exclusively during that winter quarter. “We were interested in the same things and have similar dispositions,” Ann says. “He was a nice-looking guy, and we liked spending time together.”
A lot of that time was spent at the Daily, where Carl started as a sports writer and would eventually become managing editor, and Ann covered the board of trustees and became city editor. It was a tumultuous time on many college campuses in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and Northwestern was no different. In May of 1970 came the Kent State shootings, where unarmed college students were shot by the Ohio National Guard, killing four and wounding nine others. (Interestingly, Carl just retired as an associate professor of journalism and mass communication from Kent State this past spring, and Ann is currently a professor of journalism and mass communication in the same department.) A week after the shootings, Northwestern students staged a strike against the violence and the ongoing Vietnam War. Carl and Ann covered the Kent State aftermath at Northwestern for the Daily, which published nine straight days, including extras on a Saturday and Sunday, during the strike.
They were at the Daily office all the time, and all of their friends were there, too.
“I remember sort of going out for dinner with Ann and collapsing, and we went back to the Daily and worked some more,” Carl says about the time during the strike. “I don’t know if it keeps you together; it’s a shared, intense experience.”
Carl and Ann got married during final exam week of her senior year so that all of their friends from the Daily could be there. Ann says it was a “very simple wedding” at Vail Chapel —attended by family and friends and several Medill faculty. The couple has a daughter, Karen, 30, who they adopted from Korea.
Journalism is something Carl and Ann always shared even after they left the Daily. At one point, Carl found a way to fulfill his dream of running a small-town newspaper, which he did in Iowa City, Iowa. He was the managing editor, and Ann was the editor-at-large.
Ann says their time at Medill provided a strong professional grounding, which they later shared with their students.
“Ann talks about all this stuff Medill gave us professionally,” Carl says, “but of course it gave us each other, too.”
5. Taking a Leap
Beth Shayne (BSJ03, MSJ04) and Jeff Campbell (BSJ04) were friends for most of their time at Northwestern. Beth, a Richmond, Va., native, and Jeff, who is from Colorado, were on the broadcast track at Medill and spent many hours together — in classes and at Northwestern News Network, where he was news director (“That was the last time I was her boss,” Jeff says).
They were friends ... with not-so-great timing. There was a spark, but it sizzled at varying degrees for each of them. It was very “Ross and Rachel,” Beth says, describing the early days of the courtship of the “Friends” TV couple. “We just liked each other at different times.”
Finally, when they returned from winter break in January 2004, the stars aligned. “I thought it was a fling, but at our wedding Jeff says he knew that it was more than that,” Beth says from their home in Charlottesville, Va.
It was more than that.
For other couples, this should be the easy part. Decide to be together, date, find jobs in the same city, graduate. Not so for the “Ross and Rachel” of Medill. The two were set on the broadcast careers that the “wonderful Medill degree” had prepared them for, Beth says. Finding more than one broadcast job in the same market can be next to impossible. But Beth and Jeff were partners — in everything. “Everyone said we were absolutely insane,” Beth says. “We took this crazy leap to put our careers in doubt and to be together. We had faith in each other — not just in our relationship, but in each other’s talent.”
Beth ended up taking a position in Lansing, Mich. Two weeks later, Jeff followed suit. Three years later, Jeff found an anchor position in Charlotte, N.C., and then Beth was hired at the same station. They married in October 2009. Jeff is currently a student at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, while Beth works in marketing at WorldStrides, an educational student travel company.
This new chapter of their lives, where neither is working in broadcasting, is all about spending more time together. They were rarely on the same schedule. While the uncertainty was difficult for both of them, Jeff says the journey with Beth has been completely worth it. To him, it was about taking a risk on an amazing woman and relationship. “I don’t know that I did have faith,” Jeff says of those early days. “It was a leap. I wanted to take that gamble, and it paid off.”