A UMBC Love Story

Hi there, it’s Brittan, your student blogger. This story is about my parents, Kevin and Noel, who met and fell in love while students at UMBC in the 1980s. I hope you enjoy it. Happy Valentines!  

bkevIt was the first day of classes at UMBC, 1983. Kevin Gibbons-O’Neill was just starting his junior year of college. He was sitting on a railing outside his classes letting his rainbow-colored Chuck Taylors swing underneath him. A shaved head (a lost bet with his friends) and a goofy carefree grin on his face, he scoped out all the new students walking down academic row.

Spotting a pretty girl, he tried his hand at flirting with her. “Hey, you’re really tan.” (Apparently all he could come up with.) The girl looked at him but wouldn’t respond. She thought this guy wasn’t quite all there upstairs.

Two days later, they met at a Thursday night mixer in the commuter cafeteria (a place current students won’t have the pleasure of experiencing). Kevin caught the eye of this mysterious girl and went over to ask her to dance. She replied flatly “I don’t like to dance.” Rejected. Again. An hour later, after getting some courage in her system, the girl, whose name he found out was Noel, grabbed his hand and said “let’s dance.” The rest, as they say, is history.

“We would go to the commuter cafeteria pretty much every day,” says Kevin, “I would buy us cheese steaks and we would sit around and talk between classes.”

They were married November 9, 1991, and danced to “Tonight I Celebrate My Love”. Luckily for Kevin, Noel didn’t need to work up the courage to dance with him this time. 32 years after they first met, Kevin says “I still fall in love with that woman every day.”

UMBC in the 80s
UMBC in the 80s

The main focus of college is learning, and as any student at UMBC knows, this university is academically rigorous. But college is more than that. It’s about forming relationships that grow with you. UMBC is a thriving campus, always blossoming, always evolving. The friends you make here, the ones that sit and study with you until 2 a.m., the ones that eat lunch with you, the ones that convince you your life isn’t over after one bad test grade, are the ones still sitting by your side 10 years from now.

Kevin Gibbons-O’Neill met his best man at UMBC, he met his wife at UMBC, he made friends that still, after 3 decades, call him up to see how he’s doing.

UMBC makes scholars, yes, that much is obvious. But the relationships you make her are the relationships that last a lifetime.

— Brittan Gibbons-O’Neill ’17