Just married at Kent State

Amy Cooknick

Roberto Chavez and Rachelle Pina tie the knot at Oscar Ritchie Hall.

When newlywed Kent State alumni Roberto Chavez and Rachelle Pina pictured the location of their special day, it was always Kent State. More precisely, the two said “I do” on Saturday before the beaming faces of 110 special guests at room 250 of Oscar Ritchie Hall.

With alumni returning to their alma mater to tie the knot, one might picture navy blue and gold flowers, Flash as the ring bearer and Lester Lefton as the wedding officiate. But none of this was ever in the plans for the couple.

Despite the non-traditional setting, Roberto and Rachelle wanted to keep their wedding simple and traditional in all aspects. They complemented an October wedding with a fall theme — wedding colors in warm autumn browns, reds and oranges.

“We have deep ties at Kent State,” Roberto said. “If it wasn’t for Kent State, we would

never have met.”

Rachelle agreed.

“We both are graduates here. We both are employed here. There’s just a lot of roots here,” she said.

This wedding represents the full circle of Roberto and Rachelle’s love for each other and for Kent State. Their relationship began here, and now it is “not ending here,” as Roberto was quick to point out, moving from one chapter to the next.

The couple met on campus in a friend’s dorm room in early December of 2006. Roberto was a junior biochemistry major and Rachelle a sophomore political science major.

It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, but there was clearly a spark between the two.

It was not until winter break that year that Rachelle mustered up the courage to make the first move. She called Roberto from home and asked if he wanted to hang out.

“I was immediately interested in Roberto because we shared something that I hadn’t found in anyone else (at Kent State), which is being part Mexican,” Rachelle recalled. “There are not too many here. Roberto is also very smart. The relationship developed easily because we lived in the same dorm and shared some of the same friends.”

When classes resumed in the spring, the two were officially a couple. And they have been together ever since.

Roberto popped the question on Thanksgiving Day in 2008.

While they immediately decided on Kent State as the location, it was not until about five months into their engagement that the couple settled on Oscar Ritchie Hall as the exact site and The Rusty Nail for the reception.

Roberto’s parents’ ties to the Department of Pan-African Studies, the building’s recent renovation and rededication in 2009, and the couple’s love for the people there led them to decide to get married at Oscar Ritchie.

Other couples have been married in the Kiva and in the Ballroom, but Roberto and Rachelle are the first at Oscar Ritchie.

Mother-of-the-groom Geraldine Hayes Nelson, assistant vice president of pipeline initiatives and diversity programming at Kent State, could not be happier with the location.

“I think it’s great that they selected Oscar Ritchie because of the relationships they made with staff and students at Kent State,” she said. “For me personally as an alumni of Kent and a former Upward Bound student, I took classes at Oscar Ritchie. We all took classes there.”

Rachelle also has a long family history at Kent State, with an aunt and a grandmother as alumni.

Even the wedding party was filled with members of the bride and groom’s Kent State family; with alumni Sedrick Harton, senior physical education major Sheldon Triplett and junior pre-business major Angelo Chavez as groomsmen; alumni Robert Williams as the Best Man; and alumni Kristina Chavez as Rachelle’s Maid of Honor.

As for the happy couple themselves, the groom has worked as the academic program advisor and outreach assistant for the College of Business Administration, and in the undergraduate programs office for a year. Currently, he is also working toward earning his MBA here. Rachelle began on Sept. 27 as the administrative clerk for Wick Poetry Center.

Although the wedding is on an active campus, Roberto and Rachelle were never worried about students getting in the way.

The wedding guests were comprised of Kent State students, as well as faculty and staff, so having extra students around was no problem.

Now that the hard work of planning a wedding is behind them, the Chavezes are looking forward to unwinding and enjoying some time off on their honeymoon in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

“Kent was just our main reason we got married,” Rachelle concluded with a smile at Roberto. “Our legacy is with the students here.”

Contact Amy Cooknick at [email protected].