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Faculty couples share their own love stories, what being a CMU couple is like

CMU faculty couples share their own love stories

Associate Vice President of University Communications Sherry Knight (left) and journalism faculty member Jim Knight (right) pose together for a photo on Feb. 8 in West Hall. The two, now married, met during their time at CMU.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, we begin to notice the love stories all around us. Many of those romances are right in front of our eyes everyday, as members of our faculty. 

Some couples, like earth and atmospheric sciences faculty Natalia Zakharova and mathematics faculty Dmitry Zakharov, started their story before Central Michigan University. When Zakharova was a student in Moscow, she heard friends talking about this guy named Dmitry Zakharov. They said he was smart and funny and had similar interests to her. Zakharova admitted she almost felt preconditioned to meet someone very special when she met Dmitry. 

The two finally crossed paths. They decided to take a night to go see a French film together. 

From the start, they were smitten with each other. 

Zakharov was in his senior year and decided to travel to the U.S. for his doctorate studies. The couple would have been dating for a year before they were faced with this tough choice. Do they stay together and try a long-distance relationship, or is that too impractical? Could Zakharova leave her family behind in Russia? 

“I never ever planned or considered on moving to another country,” Zakharova said. “I just felt like, ‘Well, I have to make a choice,’ and I chose him over everything else.” 

After a long year apart, the couple managed to make it work. Finally, Zakharova could go after her love and joined her partner over seas. They knew their decision was all worth it. Today they are raising their two-year-old son together. 

"I mean, there's no one like you," Zakharov said to his wife. "I've never met anyone who was as close to me in terms of my outlook, in terms of values, in terms of just how you look at life." 

Another couple's story starts much closer to home, right here on CMU's campus. Journalism faculty member Jim Knight and associate Vice President of University Communications Sherry Knight met during their time as students working at Central Michigan Life. 

While working in the hectic newsroom filled with noisy typewriters and rotary phones, Jim noticed Sherry across the room. He was a junior and she was a freshman. He was immediately intrigued by this girl, but he did not work up the courage to ask her on a date until the following fall. 

"I asked her out and took her to a really nice restaurant," Jim said jokingly. "It was a really fancy date. Great movie - Rodney Dangerfield's 'Easy Money' - and then Burger King." 

Somehow, that date won Sherry over. They dated the whole year - a young couple falling in love. Then Jim graduated in the spring and had to join the workforce as a journalist. Jim accepted a reporter position in Bad Axe at the Huron Daily Tribune. Despite the distance, Sherry traveled through snow storms to surprise him at a high school gym where he would be covering a basketball game. Jim said that's when he knew she was the one. 

After Sherry graduated, the couple worked together at the Annapolis Capital in Maryland. Then they returned to Michigan to work at the Jackson Citizen Patriot. It was only a matter of time before they ended up back at CMU, the place where their story started. 

"The thing that strikes me about being a married couple at CMU now is there still are memories from student times," Jim said. "When we moved back here, I kept having flashbacks of when things happened." 

Professors JoEllen Delucia, left, and Nate Smith, right, pose for a photo with their son, Simon, on Feb. 9 in Anspach Hall.

As Valentine's Day approaches, some couples like English faculty, Nate Smith and JoEllen DeLucia, savor their Valentine's Day traditions.

Every year the couple visits the Detroit Institute of Art. It is one of DeLucia's favorite places, and the couple has made it a tradition because DeLucia's birthday falls on Feb. 12. However, instead of just the two of them, they bring their son, Simon, 7, with them. While Simon would much rather be casting spells with his Harry Potter wand, he trudges along through the institute while his parents enjoy the beauty of the captivating art inside.

Simon does look forward to one part of the excursion: visiting the gift shop. 

This year, Smith said he is going to surprise his wife with something special, but that secret can't be discussed quite yet. 

One couple in mathematics, Meera Mainkar and Debraj Chakrabarti, doesn't focus on the big holidays. They choose to take advantage of their jobs together and find small ways to enjoy one another's company everyday.

Mainkar and Chakrabarti, both originally from India, took a leap of faith and both moved to the U.S.; however, this didn't happen at the same time. Chakrabarti was in the U.S. for four years before Mainkar was able to join him. Unfortunately, they were forced into long-distance on-and-off for several more years until Chakrabarti joined Mainkar at CMU.  

Today, they can enjoy chai, the Indian word for tea, together everyday in one another's offices. They exemplify making the small moments count and being grateful for the time they have together.

Sometimes students fail to recognize these relationships around them. For example, biology professor Michelle Steinhilb shared a story about a time when a student walked into her office, looked at her a bit bewildered and asked why she had a picture of biology professor Stephen Juris' baby in her office.

"They didn't know we were married, and I was like, 'Oh, well that's my baby, too!" said Steinhilb laughing. 

Ultimately, being married and working at the same university isn't always easy, but these couples demonstrate patience and as Juris put it, "100 percent T" for tolerance. 

"Because we know what it's like to be a professor, and we can very easily empathize with the other person in our relationship, it's easy for us to know we're at a time where we need to have a little bit more understanding," said Juris. 

These faculty couples demonstrate to us as students how to be professionals together, how to raise a family and how to continue to love one another daily.