Posted April 27, 222
It was a textbook that Haley Veite had opened countless times before. She studied from the book as a microbiology student at Lorain County Community College, and later she referenced the book as a teaching assistant for the same class. But this time, something was different. She opened the pages and in a hollowed space, there it was.
An engagement ring.
Where it began
Veite met Matthew Alewine in January 2017 in Dr. Harry Kestler’s microbiology class where Veite was a teaching assistant and Alewine was a student. The two became fast friends, chatting about class assignments and all things microbiology. At the end of the semester, Alewine joined Kestler’s research group that studies a gene therapy that could prevent the transmission of HIV. Veite was already a member of the research group.
“I actually joined that group to spend more time with her,” Alewine recalled.
With their shared interest in science and their penchant for dark humor, Veite and Alewine soon went from classroom friends to dating, and before long, they were inseparable. While they researched in Kestler lab, they shared jokes and made plans for their careers in health care.
Veite earned an associate degree in nursing from LCCC in the spring of 2017 and continued with LCCC’s University Partnership to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) from The University of Akron in 2018. Alewine transferred to Cleveland State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in health sciences in 2019. Their degrees set them up for rewarding careers. Veite works in health care risk adjustment and Alewine performs clinical trials research in the pharmaceutical industry.
During the summer of 2021, Kestler held an annual cookout for current and former students in his research group. More about 20 current and past researchers showed up, including Veite and Alewine. As the group gathered in Kestler’s lab to watch a video, Alewine made sure the two of them sat in the front row. What Kestler introduced as a short clip about research turned out to be a video montage of the Alewine and Veite’s friends and family, each counting down the days until the couple’s engagement.
When the video ended, Alewine presented Veite with the textbook from the microbiology class where they first met. Veite flipped a few pages and found a diamond ring, hidden in a carved out section of the book.
In a heartfelt speech delivered from one knee, Alewine asked the big question.
“She said, ‘Yes!’” he exclaimed to the room, which was now filled the couple’s family members, as well as their research friends.
“I was so surprised,” Veite said. “I was prepared for a picnic and not at all for what happened. I was so surprised and obviously very happy.”
A love that persists
Getting engaged in the classroom where they met was key to their story, Alewine said.
“The place that allowed me to meet her is now the place that allows us to start the next chapter of our lives together,” Alewine said.
The location of the proposal could not have been more perfect, Veite said.
“The lab, the college, it’s so important to both us of academically, professionally and also personally. To come full circle in this room and to also share the moment with our friends and family, it’s a great feeling,” Veite said.
To celebrate the engagement, Kestler presented Veite and Alewine with personalized lab coats that include their names on the front and a version of the lab’s motto embroidered on the back.
“The coats say, ‘May your marriage persist like a lentivirus,’ and that is so perfect for us and for our story” Veite said. “My experience at the college was amazing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“I wish all the best to Haley and Matt,” Kestler said. “Watching their relationship grow has been an honor and I can’t wait to see what develops for them in the future.”
And while marriage proposals are not common in the microbiology lab, Kestler said the college is a special place, where big things happen to those who are open to the possibilities.
“LCCC will change your life, if you let it,” Kestler said.
Veite and Alewine live in North Ridgeville and are planning a wedding later this year.