Valentine's Day Plus Shakespeare Equals Love, UA Style

Feb. 10, 2016

William Shakespeare gave the world some of its most lasting love stories. 

This Valentine's Day, as the University of Arizona prepares to offer public access to view Shakespeare's First Folio, we asked students, employees and alumni to share their own love stories, and here are six of them:

Dove Mittelman Buppert and Matthew Buppert

Photo: Ryanne Bee Photography

The now-Bupperts were working at the UA Bookstores when they met. Dove Mittelman Bupperts tells the story that, at the time, Matthew Bupperts was considering work elsewhere, but a friend told him to stay at the bookstore, expecting that the two would grow closer.

He recalled: "The first words she ever said to me were, 'You're Matt? I hear we're going to be best friends forever.'"

The first time Matthew took Dove to Santa Barbara, California, to meet his parents, she said she thought: "We are definitely getting married here." At the time, the two had been dating for four months.

After graduating from the UA (Matthew in 2007 from the Eller College of Management, Dove in 2008 with a degree in communication), they moved to Phoenix and have since supported each other "through big moves, new jobs, ice cream flavor selections and Friday night Netflix movie picks," Dove said.

Eventually, Matthew proposed. The Bupperts have been together for nine years and were married on Sept. 19, 2015, in Santa Barbara.

Chris Sogge and Eddie Soto

Sogge and Soto met about four years ago during what was then an LGBTQ campus social club called SPRITE.

The two had been friends for five months "and fell into a relationship naturally," said Sogge, a graduate student in the UA's Center for the Study of Higher Education.

One of Sogge's favorite memories of the two came during a trip to Flagstaff to visit his family.

"After a nice hike in Sedona and some local dinner, we drove up to the top of Mars Hill to watch the stars. Flagstaff is where Pluto was discovered, so the skies are incredibly pristine and awesome," Sogge said. "We stayed in the car with the hatch open, listening to music, and watching falling stars until I lost track of time. Seeing the sky makes me feel so small compared to the infinite vastness of the universe, but I also felt infinite with Eddie by my side."

Sogge graduates from the UA in May; Soto graduated last year from the UA with a degree in neuroscience.

"Here is to four years of support, love, challenging me to grow, and to many, many more years to come," Sogge said.

Ginger Hunt and James Hunt

In March 2016, Ginger and her husband, James, will celebrate their 15-year anniversary.

The two met nearly 30 years ago in Huntsville, Alabama, at the U.S. Space Camp while in the eighth grade.

"It was love at first sight," said Ginger, an instructional designer in the UA Office of Digital Learning. James was from Boston and she was living in Des Moines.

"The day I left Space Academy broke my heart. Over the next year, we saw each other once. We spoke on the phone once a week. We mailed actual letters to each other via USPS. The relationship lasted one year. It disappeared due to distance. We sent a few letters during college, but the circumstances weren’t quite right. 

"In 2000, as a K-12 teacher, I was preparing to chaperone eight of my middle-school students to Space Academy. I wondered what happened to that boy I couldn't forget from Boston. At the same time, my now mother-in-law suggested he call that girl from Iowa. He did."

It had been 12 years since the two had spoken. The first conversation lasted four hours.

"We never missed another day with each other," Ginger said. Today, the couple have two children, two pups "and an amazing life."

Photo: The Zimmers

Carrie Hardesty and Matt Johnson

At the end of a workday in August 2015, Johnson picked up Hardesty from her UA office, where she works as a health educator for Campus Health Service, telling her that had heard about an evening at the McKale Center. He coaxed her into attending.

After parking near the facility, they walked toward McKale, hearing the Pride of Arizona practicing in the distance. As season-ticket holders, the two were regulars at the facility. Johnson led Hardesty through the same doors they went through during the basketball season. 

He began talking about what a special place McKale was to both of them, and how it held so many memories of their six-plus years together. He then turned his attention to her, expressing his love and appreciation.

"He then got down on one knee," Hardesty recalled. "He pulled a black box out of his boot and opened it to reveal a beautiful ring."

Stunned, Hardesty did not know what to say. Johnson pulled her into a hug.

"Carrie, you haven't said anything," he said, to which she responded with a "yes." Hardesty recalls that, at that moment, the Pride of Arizona coincidentally erupted into a cheer.

Hardesty graduated from the UA in 2010 with a degree in health education. Johnson graduated in 2011 with a degree in public management and policy. The two will wed in Tucson in September 2016.

Shelly Black and Chris Black

Shelly and her husband, Chris, fell in love through a shared appreciation for the Piano Trio No. 2, Op. 67 by Dmitri Shostakovich, a Russian composer.

"I met my significant other at a gig where he was performing on violin," said Shelly, an associate marketing specialist for UA Libraries. "After it ended, we began chatting, and discovered that we both had a current fascination with the piano trio. It was serendipitous."

The two married about 1.5 years later, "and my husband rearranged that Shostakovich piece to be played at our ceremony."

Heather Ballard and Dan Ballard

The Ballards met at the UA in 1997 while both were working as lifeguards at the Student Recreation Center.

"Ever ambitious, she quickly became my boss," said Dan, who graduated from the UA in 1999 with a degree in accounting.

"We became great friends," he said.

Although they dated other people for a while, Dan said, "I think that we always knew deep down that if we ever got together, we would end up getting married. At least I did."

Heather graduated in 1999 with a degree in molecular and cellular biology, and they married in 2001. They now have four children — or future Wildcats, as Dan likes to say.

"She's my best memory from the UA, and the best thing that ever happened to me," he says. "I am forever grateful to the University for bringing us together."

UA Libraries also is collecting narrations of love, with readers sharing their favorite quotes from Shakespeare: