When a reggae song was played at a Valentine’s Day social, Cavell Dunkley ’02 and Mark Walcott ’02, M.S. ’07, couldn’t resist the urge to dance. Born in Jamaica and raised in Evanston, hearing a Caribbean song in the Midwest was a rare treat for Cavell. The same was true for Mark, a native of Mississauga, Canada, whose parents were from Barbados.
“I grew up listening to reggae and various genres of Caribbean music,” Mark said. “Hearing it played at a party in Central Illinois surprised me. Then I saw this beautiful woman dancing, and she was by herself. So I asked her to dance.”
The song ended and eight months passed before their paths crossed again at Southside in Feeney. It was then they decided to get to know each other. From that moment on, barely a day went by when they didn’t talk or spend time together.
“For me the friendship was more important than anything else,” Mark said. “Having a cultural understanding and being able to talk about issues we faced growing up, and our parents faced, was something I didn’t have in Illinois.”
The pair grew close over the next two years.
“Mark became my counselor and advisor,” Cavell said. “He would even give me advice on the guys I was dating! We really formed a strong friendship.” Those around them saw more between them.
“My mother visited, and I introduced Mark. We went bowling at the BBC and all spent time together. After the weekend my mother and I were talking, and she said, ‘You know you’re in love with him, right?’”
Taken aback, Cavell began thinking about the relationship. Soon after, they became an item. Their wedding was on May 15, 2008, in St. Lucia.
Today they live in Bloomington. Cavell works for State Farm in fire claims and Mark works for the University in Donor and Information Services, which makes it easy for the two of them to still enjoy many ISU moments.