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Ryerson love stories from the pandemic

For Valentine’s Day, see how love has brightened the lives of these students, staff and graduates
By: Lindsey Craig
February 11, 2021
Em Miraglia and their partner smile for the camera outside near trees.

Em Miraglia, left, and their partner, Em Norton, fell in love over Zoom dates and FaceTime calls. (Photo: Em Miraglia).

All you need is love. Love makes the world go round. Love conquers all.

Whether a song title or an expression, it’s clear, love is a universal need. And in a year with so many unprecedented challenges, love, in many cases, has given hope and happiness when it was needed most.

So, for Valentine’s Day this year, we asked you - students, staff members, faculty and graduates, to share your stories of love from the pandemic. And we’re so grateful you delivered!

From romances that began on FaceTime, to a proposal, a marriage and a baby - all separate stories - below, see how love has helped brighten the lives of Ryerson students, staff and alum throughout the pandemic.

‘We fell in love over six-hour calls, playlist exchanges and Zoom dates…’

Screenshot of Em Miraglia and their partner talking on Facetime, their partner is holding a cat.

Em Miraglia, top right, and their partner, Em Norton, had only one in-person date before the pandemic began last March. Since then, their love has grown through FaceTime calls and Zoom dates. (Photo: Em Miraglia).

“My partner and I went on our first date one week before the first lockdown in Ontario. Our afternoon coffee date turned into eight hours of walking around and getting to know each other. We talked constantly after that date but before we could plan a second, the world shut down and we were both stuck in our respective apartments. We had a FaceTime call after my last day at work and ended up calling each other every single night for weeks. 

We fell in love over six-hour calls, playlist exchanges, and Zoom dates where we’d watch trashy queer reality shows before deciding to move in together until my work opened back up. It was amazing how easily our routines flowed together having barely spent time together in person. And now, we’re coming up on our one-year anniversary and we look forward to so many more. I don’t think we’d be surviving this without each other and we both can’t wait to exist in a post-pandemic world together.”

-Em Miraglia, Ryerson graduate, class of 2019

‘My pandemic love story is about my son’

Photo of a baby boy in his mother’s lap.

Meet Brixton, son of staff member Rachel Beveridge, who was born right before the pandemic began. (Photo: Rachel Beveridge).

“My pandemic love story is about my son, Brixton, who was born Jan. 7, 2020. When he was just about two months old, the world shut down and we weren't able to see family or meet with friends, and the world as I knew it became a very foreign place. His well-baby check-ups became mostly virtual, baby wipes became scarce and the maternity leave that I envisioned drastically changed. Brixton's first year is meaningful for many reasons: learning to accept things I can't control and manage expectations, finding beauty in the everyday with my children, and it brought my family closer together, finding stability amidst a global crisis.”

-Rachel Beveridge, staff member

‘The circumstances of COVID-19 made me fall in love with him all over again’

A couple smiles while standing on the stairs outside surrounded by trees.

Throughout the pandemic, to keep their families safe, student Nistha Fernando-Majewski and her boyfriend, Aiden Lane, have spent all of their time together outdoors. (Photo: Nistha Fernando-Majewski).

“My love story is about my amazing boyfriend of nearly five years and how the unprecedented circumstances of COVID-19 made me fall in love with him all over again. After spending the past four years of our relationship spending time in the comfort of our homes and going on movie/dinner dates, not being able to engage in these activities for nearly a year was challenging. A lot more effort had to be put into finding ways to be together, while keeping ourselves and those around us safe. But it was this effort that was so beautiful. 

We both live with our families so we felt that it was best to not enter each other’s homes in 2020. The majority of our time together during the less severe stages of the pandemic were spent outdoors away from other people,  just the two of us - no background noise, no distractions. 

The outdoors in my small Ontario village was a place where we could remain safe. Thunderstorms. Snowstorms. Scorching heat. We had no choice but to deal with these things as we refrained from entering indoor spaces together. There were no birthday celebrations, no anniversary celebration, and we didn’t even get to celebrate Christmas together for the first time in a few years. 

We made it work. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t different… but the effort to nurture our relationship regardless of the circumstances made me fall in love once again. I realized that I don’t need fancy dates or vacations (although those are nice things). What really mattered was each other’s company and being able to conquer life’s challenges as a couple.”

-Nistha Fernando-Majewski, second-year student, Biomedical Science

‘We plan to get married this summer anyway we can’

Val Bruce and her fiance smile for the camera in matching Ryerson MBA sweatshirts.

Ryerson grad and staff member Val Bruce got engaged to her partner, Sean, during the pandemic. They’re pictured above in their Ryerson MBA sweatshirts. Ryerson photography graduate Chris Taylor took their engagement photos.

“My partner, Sean, and I (both MBA alumni, and I'm a current staff member) got engaged during the pandemic. While we've been together for a while (seven years in late March), getting engaged during the pandemic was a highlight during a hard time and will certainly make me look back on 2020 in a different way. While working on campus (Housing and Residence Life) has been challenging at times, Sean has been a constant force of support, care and fun. I feel very lucky to have him in my life and we plan to get married this summer anyway we can.”

-Valerie Bruce, staff member and MBA alum

‘All of our old feelings came rushing back’

Screenshot of two people conversing in a video call.

Student El Black and their partner, Havana Garrett, rekindled their love for each other in 2020.

"My girlfriend, Havana Garrett, and I fell in love two years ago, and it was incredible. But we had one major problem, we lived in two different countries. We met online and immediately clicked. We wanted so badly to meet in person but it was never possible, and the timing in our lives just wasn't right. 

Eventually we ended it because it was too hard. Though this year we started talking as friends again. Havana found out she would be going to college that was closer to me, and all of our old feelings came rushing back. We decided to give it another shot! It's the happiest I've felt in a long time. We have a meet-up planned once travel is safe again. 

I am amazed at the way we found each other again, and I believe we are meant to be in each other’s lives. We have been back together for one month today and will celebrate with a virtual date later. She makes me so beyond happy and sane during all this craziness. I am the luckiest person in the world as I was afforded the opportunity to not only love her once but twice.”

- El Black, first-year student, Social Work

‘We finally got married and started our life together’

A bride and groom stand side by side in front of flowers on their wedding day.

PhD student Hirad Daneshvar married the love of his life, Mina Jaberi, during the pandemic.

“My wife and I were friends for more than five years before getting married. We were classmates during our bachelor's degree and master's degree. After more than five years, on Oct. 1, 2020 we finally got married and started our life together.”

-Hirad Daneshvar, PhD student, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (Computer Systems Engineering)


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