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How we met: Masara Beukinga and Eric Browning

Masara Beukinga ’03 and Eric Browning ’03 didn’t expect to find a spouse at Illinois State, but when they met through mutual friends in 2001 there was a lasting impression.

Eric pursued Masara. While spending time abroad, he sent letters from her dream vacation spot in Paris, France. He even bought her a souvenir.

“After he rode his bike to my dorm in the rain with a framed piece of art from Paris, I knew he had won me over,” Masara said.

They became an inseparable pair, enjoying lunches on the Quad, the zoo, basketball games, and tailgating. They supported each other.

“Eric walked me hand-in-hand to many of my classes,” she said. “He thought I was obsessed with grades, which I was, but he would still quiz me with my homemade note cards and edit all of my papers for me.”

Both were committed to excellence. Outside the classroom Masara tutored children through the Normal Public Library. Eric joined Delta Tau Delta fraternity and worked with The Daily Vidette.

“I was once very close to a deadline for a story on the food selection at ISU,” Eric said. “I needed a source badly. Masara came through and gave her input. That moment seemed to be a precursor for the rest of our lives together. She’s always been in my corner.”

They married on July 22, 2004, in Riviera Maya, Mexico. They live and work in San Bernardino, California. Eric teaches middle school English, while Masara teaches first and second grades. They have two sons—Dylan, 3, and Gavin, born in June of 2010. The boys are already becoming familiar with ISU, which remains a cherished memory for Masara and Eric.

“Illinois State allowed both of us to develop socially, academically, intellectually, and personally,” the couple concurred. “We simply took advantage of the numerous opportunities the University and community offered. From those opportunities, we found that we shared many of the same core principles and beliefs. And we had a great time in the process!”

Editor’s note: February is Redbird Romance Month at Illinois State’s telefund. Students will be calling alumni couples to gain their support.