Slugs in love: Celebrating love stories from UCSC alumni

Nestled amidst the towering redwood forests and perched on the picturesque cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, UC Santa Cruz has long been a haven for higher education and intellectual exploration. Connections found, made, and cultivated at UCSC sometimes transcend the academic realm, and create bonds that last a lifetime.

To celebrate Valentine’s day, we embark on a heartwarming journey to tell the stories of 14 UCSC alumni who not only earned degrees, but also found love while they were students at UCSC.

Justine and Kyle
(Crown ’13, Human Biology)  and Kyle Glover (Cowell ’12, Human Biology)

Kyle and I met at UCSC in January 2011 at a mutual friend's party and bonded over the fact that we both had the same hometown and were both Human Biology majors. 

We moved to the East Coast together where Kyle finished medical school and residency, and I pursued my career in the biotech industry. 

We got married in March 2021 and had an intimate ceremony at Henry Cowell State Park to always remember the city where we met and fell in love!

(Photo by Emily Jenks)

Gina and SybillaGina Manzella (Porter ’05, community studies) and Sybilla Robson (Porter ’05, literature)

I had noticed Gina around Porter College a few times before we met. She had short electric orange hair and as a Sophomore, she was way too cool for me to approach as a newly minted freshman! Our paths finally crossed when I decided to direct a Candyland piece for the Queer Fashion Show at Porter. I was searching for a King Candy and our mutual friend Travis told me he had the perfect King Candy for me. Fast forward six months and we moved in together and have never been apart since. Twenty years later, I’m happy to report that I’m married to my best friend. 

After graduating in 2005, we moved to Phoenix, Arizona, and started our careers in higher education. We’ve had lots of adventures and share a love of treasure hunting, eating good meals, and enjoying nature.  We’re now lucky to call San Diego, CA our home! We both work at the University of San Diego. Our time at UCSC truly was a magical one that changed both of our lives for the better and we wouldn’t trade it for the world!

Kathleen and PaytonKathleen Vu (Rachel Carson ’15, psychology) and Payton Small (Rachel Carson ’15, psychology) 

Payton and I met on the first day of move-in day at Rachel Carson College (then College 8) in the fall of  2011. We lived three doors from each other on the same dorm floor of CL. We had the same friend group and the same major (psychology). We became a couple in November of that year and the rest was history! 

In February 2019 Payton proposed to me on the Oakes path while we were visiting Santa Cruz. A couple months later in April 2019, I also proposed to Payton in front of the dorm where we first met. After wedding postponements due to the pandemic, we finally got married in September 2021, after 10 happy years together.

Update: Kathleen and Payton are welcoming their first child in April!

Jocelyne and RaulJocelyne Esquivias(Oakes ’18, psychology and sociology) and Raul Gutierrez (Oakes ’18, business management)

Raul and I met during our first year at UC Santa Cruz at the Dolores Huerta dorm building in Oakes College in 2014. When we first met we didn't know we both had gone to school 300 miles away from home to only find out we lived four miles away from each other back in LA. 

We have been together ever since and recently got married in Nov. 2021. Raul and I graduated in 2018 and are forever grateful for the amazing friends and time we spent as undergrads. 

We didn't choose the slug life, the slug life chose us.

Nikki and JonnyNikki (Porter ’16, psychology) and Jonny Clugston (Porter ’16, film and digital media)

Jonny and I met in high school, but continued our love story at UC Santa Cruz, where we both graduated from in 2016. 

The university, and the city itself, holds a very special place in our hearts. So much so, that we even decided to elope in Santa Cruz in September 2020 after having to cancel our traditional wedding celebration due to the ongoing pandemic. 

We love UCSC and feel so lucky to have had such an awesome undergrad experience there! Slugs forever! 

Amber and Simon

Amber (Kresge ’94, environmental studies) and Simon Evans (Merrill ’94, language studies)

Simon and I met in December while at UCSC over 30 years ago (1992) He was at Kresge. I was at Merrill. Simon majored in Language Studies and I was in Environmental Studies.

He, a local, was living with family in town—his folks are also Slugs. We graduated together in 1994, married in 1996 and had our son Kyle in 2000. Kyle (Crown ’22, human biology) graduated with the class of 2022 at UCSC—third generation. 

Karla and TonyKarla Gadea (Stevenson ’16, business economics) and Tony Avila (Oakes ’16, economics)

Tony and I met through our group of friends, we were all in the same econ classes. He always mentions the first day he saw me walking into class. We learned we were from the same city and we didn't grow up too far from each other! We were friends who fell in love and became inseparable, we dated for seven years and now WE'RE MARRIED! 

We've been through a lot and we always say it was fate that two people from the same city met in a beautiful place.