With thousands of eligible students on campus, university isn’t just where you go to get your degree – it’s a great place to meet like-minded people and form strong relationships.
Curtin Love Lessons is an on-going series of articles about couples who connected through Curtin, whether they studied together or briefly crossed paths. Meet the couples who turned their campus romance into long-term relationships.
Ambassadors for love
Amy Hetherington first met Paul Brandis when she arrived a week early to a Student Ambassador information session in 2008. Brandis happened to be passing by the lecture theatre where Amy was waiting eagerly in the front row, and broke the news to her. Amy says she was so embarrassed by the mix-up she hoped she’d never seen Paul again. However, they met one week later (at the right information session) and become firm friends.
“Our first date was at the Moon Café in Northbridge, after finishing university one night,” says Paul, a civil engineering graduate. “Moon Café is open to crazy times in the morning and we got there and talked until two am. It’s the perfect place for an intimate conversation, plus the pizza and pasta are cheap for uni students!”
Keeping things astronomical, the couple became serious after spending a weekend away at an observatory as part of the Curtin ambassador program.
“We have heaps of fond memories of Curtin, but the best memory for us would be the John Curtin weekends where we volunteered in regional towns with our fellow student ambassadors,” says Amy, a mass communications alumna.
“The year we volunteered in Gin Gin at the Gravity Discovery Centre would be the highlight, because I think that was the first time we realised we had feelings for each other.”
Amy perhaps best displayed her feelings for Paul when she decided to move with him to Darwin in 2013 after Brandis received a job offer to work on a major gas project. Amy says the sea change was challenging at first, but she quickly found her feet and has used her mass communications degree to help establish her own creative consultancy business.
“It definitely took the first six months to truly understand and fall in love with the place, but now it’s home,” says Amy on the Darwin move. “It’s big and driven enough to have amazing opportunities and events, but small enough that you can really make an impact and feel appreciated.”
Since moving to the tropical city, Amy and Paul have earned a name for themselves as the ultimate house party hosts, and are busy looking after the newest addition to their family, a puppy named Tully.
Love is in the airwaves
Strategic Marketing 101 took on a new meaning when it proved to be a winning love strategy for Mix 94.5 radio host, Pete Curulli.
Pete, a Curtin marketing and advertising graduate, was immediately attracted to fellow student Liz, from marketing and commercial law. When they both enrolled into the same marketing course unit, Pete found a way to make sure the two ended up in the same class. But when he found out that Liz was dating somebody else, he was ‘gutted’.
Luckily for Pete, Liz ended things with her partner just a few weeks later. Pete was thrilled. “I was doing backflips!” he says.
A short time later, the two found themselves at Freedom Furniture in Cannington working on a group assignment. Pete likes to remember that quirky day out as their official ‘first date’.
The pair clearly complement each other, with Liz describing Pete as “the most determined person” she knows.
“Every day with Pete is unique and memorable,” she says. “We balance each other out.”
“Liz keeps me grounded,” replies Pete. “She’s the little voice on my shoulder that tempers my impulsiveness or champions my risky side. She always knows the right thing to say.”
Pete describes meeting Liz, and his time at Curtin, as some of the best years of his life. He credits former Head of Marketing, Professor Ram Ramaseshan, for giving him a chance to succeed.
“I chose to study at Curtin because it accepted me,” he says. “I had visited a few unis; I didn’t have a high TEE score but I was determined. I sat outside Professor Ramaseshan’s office for an hour, refusing to move until he would let me in and plead my case.
“I’ll owe that man a debt for the rest of my life,” says Pete. “He gave me an opportunity and I’ll be forever grateful.”
Today Pete balances his family life with a busy and fulfilling career at commercial radio station Mix 94.5 as a radio anchor on the Drive show.
Pete describes the addictive rush he feels at work.
“My heart thumps every time I walk into that studio to turn the mikes on for the first time. I’m a creative. It’s a natural extension of myself.”
Liz has found professional success working as a marketing executive. The couple married in 2015 and recently welcomed their “miracle” daughter, Mila.
Despite both having such highflying careers, the birth of little Mila has topped everything else.
“Being new parents has been a balancing act,” Pete says. “But it’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to us.”
Laboratory of lasting love
It seems a rarity these days to meet a couple who have been happily married for more than forty years, but Kerry and Trevor Cobain have achieved just that through their shared interest in medical science.
Kerry and Trevor first met in the early 1970s at a Perth pathology laboratory called Kelsalls. Trevor worked there as a trainee scientist while completing his Associateship in Medical Laboratory Technology at WAIT; Kerry was working as a laboratory assistant after briefly trying clerical work, but quickly realised that pathology was a lot more stimulating.
“I really enjoy that in microbiology you can always expect the unexpected,” she says.
Despite meeting in rather clinical conditions, Kerry asked Trevor to be her date at her brother’s wedding, and their romance soon blossomed.
With a keen interest in transfusion, immunology, transplantation and genetics, Trevor enrolled in a Bachelor of Applied Science in Medical Technology at WAIT in 1973, and later went on to do a PhD in 2002. Trevor encouraged Kerry to enrol in the same applied science course in 1972 to develop her career in pathology.
“Some of my fondest memories are being involved with a very new and developing university,” says Trevor on his time at WAIT. “It was a course that was very specific for laboratory medicine and it gave a fantastic blend of theory and practice.”
Kerry and Trevor married in 1974, and moved interstate in 2005 to pursue their careers, which at times saw them working together in various laboratories.
Though Trevor has recently retired as Director of Operations at the South Eastern Area Laboratory Service (SEALS), Kerry still works in microbiology as a medical scientist for NSW Health Pathology, but both are looking forward to spending more time together, and with their daughter, in the years ahead.
The story of how architecture alumni Dr Adelyn Siew and Associate Professor Khoa Do first met is not your typical romantic narrative. When Adelyn first noticed Khoa in a shared course unit in 1997, she was nonplussed by his ‘geeky haircut’ and T-shirt-tucked-into-jeans look. She was equally put off when Khoa responded to a tricky question she asked him about his project by pointedly returning to his chair and refusing to answer.
Not one to take things sitting down, Adelyn grew curious about Khoa’s actions and fashion motives, and became determined to figure him out.
Fast-forward 19 years, Adelyn and Khoa are now married with three children, and continue to strengthen their relationship founded on a shared love for architecture that started here at Curtin.
“Our story is interlaced with demanding architectural coursework, long studio hours and silly antics caused by acute lack of sleep,” says Adelyn about her budding relationship with Khoa while they were students.
“There were many hours spent discussing design concepts and way too much time wasted at printing shops … the intensity of the course melded us together.”
Adelyn completed her PhD in architecture in 2004 and remains connected to the industry as an architectural heritage professional. She also runs an online design store called Adelyn makes. Khoa has been teaching at Curtin for more than a decade, and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture and Interior Architecture, and is a Fellow of the Curtin Academy.
Though Adelyn and Khoa have been married for almost twenty years, Adelyn is quick to point out there is no secret to a successful marriage.
“I don’t like the phrase ‘successful marriage’,” she says. “Marriage isn’t something you win at. It’s something you work together on. It’s a partnership that requires a foundation of trust and a whole lot of grace.”
But what about the factor that could have determined a very different story for Adelyn and Khoa – has Khoa’s fashion sense improved?
“Have you seen pictures of Khoa lately?” asks Adelyn. “The answer is definitely!”
Wind in the Willows cast members tie the knot
Ashlee Giblett and Matthew Prosper first met in 2005 at the cast reading of the mid-year Hayman Theatre production, Wind in the Willows, Ashlee playing the bunny rabbit and Matthew playing the badger.
“The first time I saw Matthew was in my first week at Curtin and I remember noticing his deep voice, but it wasn’t until 18 months later when we were both cast for the play that we actually met”, Ashlee reminisces.
With long rehearsal hours, cast meetings and practicing scenes for weeks on end, it was impossible to avoid each other and inevitable that sparks flew.
“Our first real date was kebabs and a film at Luna Palace in Leederville. It was perfect and fitting for us.”
Seven years later, they tied the knot at the French Rose Garden in Carmel, and fused the Wind in the Willows into their theme and decorations. Ashlee and Matthew continue to share a strong passion for theatre.