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A #HowardLoveStory: Reminisce with Three Alumni Love Stories

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“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Honorary Alumna Maya Angelou

WASHINGTON – Since 1867 many college sweethearts have found the love of their life at Howard University. This Valentine’s Day we’re highlighting a few love stories that add to the “Howard mystique” turned life-long love that many know. Share your Howard love story online this February and tag #HowardLoveStory.

KELLIE AND VERNON LEE - Howard Alumni 1995 at Rankin Chapel in DC.JPGA Rankin Chapel Wedding in the 90s:

During the spring of 1988, Vernon Lee Jr., and Kellie Rodriguez-Lee (pictured), had a friendship that quickly grew, as they love to frame it.  It all started the day Vernon pushed open the elevator doors at the East Towers, just to get Kellie’s name. By 1991, they were college sweethearts.

“Over the years at Howard, we enjoyed many study dates and classic college meals like hamburger helper. It was because of our deep Bison love we decided to get married at Rankin Chapel in 1995,” said Kellie.

The young couple felt it was only fitting to get married on Howard’s campus since that’s where they fell in love. Throughout 25 years of marriage, The Lees have lived in three states and are the proud parents of a college senior named Alexis.

“We are forever thankful for all that Howard has given us,” said Kellie.

Their wedding didn’t have a theme, yet embodied that Bison love they always cherished.

Cooking Up Love in Business and the Community:

The love story of Janet and Ted Cook developed within two weeks of Janet arriving on campus. She was working toward a degree in business and Ted was in law school. It wasn’t long after they met that they decided to get married. And although they were students with little money, they committed themselves to a lifetime together and moved into a Washington D.C. basement apartment together. Janet affectionately reminisced on the story of how the two had very little in those early days but found themselves surrounded by an abundance of love and community.

Eventually, the Cooks went on to become serial entrepreneurs, opening a successful staffing agency in the D.C. area that notably staffed the development of a terminal in Union Station. The Howard couple raised two children – Quinn Cook, a successful basketball player for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, and Kelsey Cook, who is pursuing a music career in New York.

When Ted passed in 2010, Janet and her family felt a sense of tremendous loss, but nevertheless remained strong and connected. Today, Janet runs the Cook’s businesses and remains tightly connected to the Howard community.

“We were able to pass down the fortitude and determination that Howard instilled in us as parents so that in the face of tragedy, both our children were able to stay focused. We were only able to do it because of the community,” said Janet. “In the Howard community, we adopt each other’s kids, so the community adopted my two and were there every step of the way. But also, we’ve been passing on the determination and supreme confidence that Howard instilled in us since the day our children were born. I owe everything to Howard.”

Dana Hall and Jon Murphy on Howard University Campus.jpgDéjà vu For Two:

If you ask Jon Murphy and Dana Hall (pictured), when they first met, you may get a range of answers.  As Dana recalls, “it’s possible that our first interaction was at a random homecoming function, at a protest for Troy Davis, or a Swahili class.” However, they both remember the night when he interrupted her conversation with a friend and introduced himself as her waiter at the restaurant Uniontown Bar and Grille.

“He proceeded to give me a hug and asked ‘Didn’t you go to Howard?”  She later told her friend that the waiter was cute and hoped that they would exchange numbers before the end of the night.  

For Jon, the memory was sort of déjà vu. He felt that this had occurred before, and remembered that she was an alumna of Howard. “I came from around the bar and told the waitress that I’d take the first high top table where Dana and her friend were sitting. After Dana finished eating, he walked to the table to pick up the check.

“I came up with the master plan, but before I could execute it, her friend said, ‘So are you going to ask her for her number?’ As I stood there awkwardly, I couldn’t do anything else but get those digits and the rest is history.”

As a nod to Howard University’s role in their lives, the couple took baby announcement photos on The Yard. Last year, they welcomed a baby girl named Zora after the illustrious alumna Zora Neale Hurston.

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About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, two Marshall Scholars, one Schwarzman Scholar, over 70 Fulbright Scholars and 22 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States.  For more information on Howard University visit www.howard.edu

Media Contact: Imani Pope-Johns, [email protected]                                    

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