Well-launched careers, memories and lifelong friendships aren’t the only lasting treasures Chapman alumni come away with when they graduate. Many also find wedded bliss.

Are you a Chapman Sweetheart (a Chapman graduate dating or married to a fellow Panther alum)? Email your love story and photo to Deanna Blanchet ’12 »

More than 800 Chapman Sweetheart couples are married and countless others are dating. Some met before coming to Chapman where the romance blossomed, while for others sparks ignited on campus in chemistry labs and on mock trial teams.

One thing is universal – Panther Pride seems to be magnetic, bringing couples together for lifetimes of happiness and adventure. To celebrate Valentine’s Day this year and our Chapman Sweethearts, we want to share some of their awesome love stories with you!


Eillen Badilla ’15 and Julie Ford (M.A. ’07)

Eillen and Julie met online in early 2005. Julie had worked at Chapman for 17 years, also earning her master’s from the university in 2007, and Eillen decided to follow suit. She earned her B.A. in sociology in 2015 and soon after began working as a children social worker for Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, and is a member of the Under One Sky Committee for California Conference for Equality and Justice. Julie started a new job around the same time in enrollment management at the California State University Chancellor’s Office. They both enjoy their roles as active members at First Congregational Church of Long Beach where they were married on June 14, 2014.


Ariana Burris (JD ’09) Jason Burris ’02 (JD ’08)

Alumni from Chapman’s Fowler School of Law Ariana Burris (JD ’09) Jason Burris ’02 (JD ’08) were married in 2012. Photo by Jeff Armstrong, who is married to Alexandra Armstrong (JD ’09).

Ariana and Jason met in law school at Chapman in 2007. They kept their relationship a secret to avoid the “drama” if discovered. But one night as they left school together, their professor James Rogan, judge of the Superior Court of California, spotted them. “Well, well, well. Are you two an item?” Ariana said he nodded in approval and walked away, “basically blessing” their relationship. The couple married in 2012, welcomed daughter Cameron in 2016, and run Burris Law in Orange – a firm staffed with many Chapman interns and employees. “Running our firm has deepened and broadened our relationship,” Ariana said.


Charla DelaCuadra ’04 and Jeremy DelaCuadra ’04 (M.A. ’10)

Charla and Jeremy’s love story begins in middle school marching band. They began as close friends and dated in high school, and married eight years later after college. They both decided to attend Chapman for its music program. “I consider us to be very lucky to have grown in complimentary and parallel ways over our college years rather than grown apart,” Charla said. Today they live in Old Towne Orange. Jeremy enjoys his job as band director in the Santa Ana Unified School District, while Charla is catalog librarian and archivist at the Huntington Library in San Marino. They perform with Symphony Irvine where they are also board of directors.


Pat Elliott ’60 (M.A. ’74) and Tom Elliott ’60

Avid travelers Pat Elliott ’60 (M.A. ’74) and Tom Elliott ’60 visited Cuba in 2016.

Pat and Tom met on a blind date in 1957 while attending then-Chapman College. Within weeks, Tom left for the U.S. Army and was stationed in Iceland. Daily letter writing kept the relationship alive. “You learn a lot about someone by corresponding by letters,” Pat said. A year later, proposed. They married two weeks later and will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in August. “A lot of things have held us together,” said Pat. “Commitment, church and travel are the big ones.” They started traveling across the world together in 1962 and have been to 72 countries together and are still counting.


Ami Garvin ’98 and Jeff Garvin ’98

Ami and Jeff met during Orientation Week at Chapman University in 1994. “I was smitten,” Jeff said. They dated during freshman and sophomore year, but lost touch after breaking up. Ami moved to San Diego to teach music and Jeff to Los Angeles to do “the film director/actor thing.” They ended up back in Orange County in 2006 as they were both going through divorces. A mutual friend invited them to a party, not telling them the other was coming. “We both left the party thinking, ‘Hmmm, something’s there.’” They were married two years later and now have two children together. They enjoy their creative lives together: “She’s a music teacher; I’m a writer and musician,” Jeff said. “There are musical instruments all over the house. It’s fun.” They also appreciate their mutual love for Harry Potter. “One of my fatherhood highlights is reading Harry Potter to our son.”


Cheryl McNabb ’84 and Alan McNabb ’84

Alan and Cheryl met when Alan turned around to Cheryl in a science lab at Chapman, asking her what the professor was talking about. She did not answer him. “I disliked him immediately,” she said. And yet, they were married five years later. They moved to Washington, D.C., where Alan went to medical school and Cheryl attended graduate school and worked for the Environmental Protection Agency. Alan’s service in the Air Force took them to Japan for three years, before they settled in the Sacramento area and had their two daughters, Brenna and Tara. “The best ways to keep a marriage going are riding a tandem bike together, putting Ikea furniture together and playing doubles tennis,” said Cheryl, laughing.


Header photo: Alumni from Chapman’s Fowler School of Law Ariana Burris (JD ’09) Jason Burris ’02 (JD ’08) were married in 2012. Photo by Jeff Armstrong, who is married to Alexandra Armstrong (JD ’09).