So often the reason for choosing a college is a familial one. Raul Rodriguez ’10, already knew Illinois State pretty well because his brother was an alum.

“I was very familiar with the campus growing up,” he said. “During high school, I stayed on campus for an actuarial science program where we stayed in dorms.”

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With Illinois State already his first choice, that clinched the deal.

For Nicole Davila ’12, Illinois State was in her plans early.

“I knew I wanted to be a teacher and that ISU had the best program out there,” she said. “I took a chance and only applied to ISU and one other school. It was such a dream to be accepted to such a great school.”

In fall 2009, both were immersed in college life and studies. Nicole was a bilingual elementary education major active in competitive cheerleading and Spanish club. She chose to study abroad in Mexico and Costa Rica. Raul was studying mathematics for secondary education. He was involved in the Association of Latin American Students, dodge ball club, and working as a resident assistant.

They both became interested in and pledged Alpha Psi Lambda, a coed fraternity. That connection launched a close friendship that in time, became even more.

“ISU gave us the opportunity to meet and become friends,” Raul said.
Fast forward to 2014, just before Christmas. Raul arranged for a big surprise at a Rosemont ice rink. With their loved ones hiding out of sight nearby, he asked Nicole to marry him at center ice. When they skated off the ice, she heard applause.

“He pointed out a large corner of the rink where our friends and family were cheering with signs of congratulations,” Nicole said.

Married July 3 of this year, the newlyweds live in Woodstock. Nicole is a bilingual science teacher at Barrington Middle School. Raul is a bilingual math teacher at Schurz High School in Chicago, where he is also coaching track and field.

While the two say starting a family is not in their immediate plans, they already know where they want their kids to go to college.

“We can’t wait to begin a family tradition of our own of sending our children to ISU,” Raul said.