The Stories of How Love Blossomed in The Forest

Emily Cookson | Staff Writer

5 mins read
i love you signage
Photo by George Dolgikh on Pexels.com

As Valentine’s Day approaches, many students and faculty members find themselves getting the opportunity to emphasize their relationships. Whether that be surprising their loved ones with flowers or chocolates or just spending the evening together, many Drew couples find themselves excited for the upcoming holiday. So, in celebration of their time together, and in honor of the love embedded throughout the forest, the Acorn has selected a few Drew couples to talk to.

Jocelyn Freeman (‘25) and Jo Cavallaro (‘25) represent a prime example of love creeping in at the beginning of their time at Drew. Freeman and Cavallaro have been together for over a year––and in the words of Cavallaro, they are “…still going strong.” Their story begins at Fire and Ice, an event held annually during first-year orientation in which students have the opportunity to enjoy flavored ice as well as sit by the fire and mingle with their peers.

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Photo by Valentin Antonucci on Pexels.com

“I had trouble dealing with my feelings, because, before dating Jo I had never actually dated a guy. But my feelings were solidified the night I got stuck in Charlotte Airport in North Carolina on my way home for fall break, and Jo stayed on the phone with me from the moment I got stranded at 11 p.m. until 4 a.m. His reasoning was that he didn’t want me to feel alone in a time of need, and, from that moment on, I knew that I had undeniable feelings for him!” Freeman said, explaining the beginning of her feelings for Cavallaro. The couple finally admitted their feelings for each other after a movie night with friends, and Freeman and Cavallaro enjoy dedicating their time to their studies with the other right by their side. 

Professors Patrick Dolan and Tammy Windfelder also forged their relationship through Drew University and have been together for about twenty years. 

“We were just there renting an apartment, and I had been there for a year, and she had literally moved in a week earlier. I just kinda ran into her at the mailboxes, and I said ‘You look new,’ and I tried to figure out who she was, and her deal. We ran into each other a few more times and began dating,” Dolan said after being asked about the story of their relationship. The apartments Dolan referenced sat behind the arboretum and housed many professors at the time. Dolan and Windefelder’s relationship began there, and it continues to weave its way through the halls of Drew University. 

When asked about his favorite part of working with his significant other, Dolan says, “We share each other’s schedules and spring breaks, and she takes students on ShortTreks to Belize, and I get to go along.” As well as co-teaching and bringing Windfelder bagels on special mornings, this couple finds ways to enjoy their time working together and living a separate life at home. 

The final Drew couple to highlight is Shannon Mills (‘23) and Eli Hatcher (‘23). Mills and Hatcher are another example of a first-year romance. According to Mills, their friends had “…a bet going on about how long it would take [them] to start dating.” Their first official date was at Romanelli’s, and they often find themselves appreciating aspects of Madison in the company of one another. 

“Probably our favorite Madison date is going to the farmers market when it’s open, and getting specifically the ice pops that are there,” said Mills. “I really can’t even pick one favorite memory, when it comes down to it we’re just literally best friends and love doing anything and everything together.” 

The ability to spend time in college with the company of a significant other is something that is valued highly by these couples, all of which were founded on this campus. So, as Valentine’s Day comes around the corner, remember that love can be found anywhere on campus—even by a mailbox. 

Emily Cookson is a first-year majoring in English and philosophy.

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