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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Be Mine’ comes true for young couples

    Rebecca Winegar, a first-year nursing student, and her husband RJ Winegar, 22, a mechanic at Precision Toyota, have been married for 6 months on Valentines Day.
    Rebecca Winegar, a first-year nursing student, and her husband RJ Winegar, 22, a mechanic at Precision Toyota, have been married for 6 months on Valentine’s Day.

    Valentine’s Day can mean a variety of things for UA students, from a day fraught with romantic expectation to the day before all that candy goes on sale.

    But for Rebecca and RJ Winegar and Stephanie and Seth Keller, February 14 bears a special significance — their first Valentine’s Day as married couples.

    While the UA doesn’t keep its own data on married students, those who fill out the FAFSA — about 60 percent of undergraduates — do provide that information. Of those students, 5 percent report being married, according to Rick Sears, associate director of enrollment research for the Office of Institutional Research and

    Planning Support. “”My estimate for all undergraduates, based upon what we do know, is that 4 percent of UA undergraduates are married,”” Sears wrote in an email. That’s about 1,214 students.

    Rebecca and RJ Winegar, both 22, were married Aug. 14, 2010. Rebecca had to balance preparing for the wedding with getting ready to begin her first semester of nursing school at the UA.

    “”I had orientation for nursing school the next morning (after our honeymoon) at 8 a.m.,”” Rebecca said with a laugh. They honeymooned in Riviera Maya, near Cancun, in Mexico.

    Sean Keller, 22, and Stephanie Keller, 21, were engaged for more than a year and a half before their wedding on Dec. 18, 2010. They decided on a December wedding because both love the Christmas season.

    Stephanie Keller, an early childhood education senior, said planning the wedding wasn’t too stressful, even with their school responsibilities. “”It wasn’t bad because we were engaged for so long,”” she said.

    She handled much of the planning. “”Sean mainly helped with the cake, the reception site, his tux. Obviously the food as well,”” Stephanie said.  

    For both couples, the decision to get married while at least one of them was still in school wasn’t a hard one.

    “”We knew we wanted to get married and we knew we wanted to marry each other, so we figured, why wait?”” said Sean Keller, an optical science and engineering senior.

    RJ Winegar, an auto mechanic at Precision Toyota, echoed that sentiment. “”We both knew we didn’t want to wait very long,”” he said.

    Neither couple had lived together before they were married, and both say one of the best parts of married life is the time they get to spend together.

    “”We get to see each other every day,”” Sean said.

    For RJ, not having to go any further than the other side of the house to see Rebecca is a perk of marriage. “”It’s easier,”” he said. “”You don’t have to travel every day to, like, visit or anything … You don’t have to make plans. I think that’s the best thing about being married.””

    Getting married while relatively young and still in school did come with some issues for both couples. Their parents, while supportive, were not uniformly thrilled at the prospect.

    “”My family was very iffy about it,”” Rebecca said. “”They were very, ‘You need to finish school, and then you can start your life and have kids and do what you want to do.'”” Her mother was married young and didn’t finish college, and she feared the same fate for her daughter. RJ, whose parents were “”all for”” the marriage, smoothed things over with his then-fiancée’s family. He called her parents and told them his intentions.

    “”He told them he was going to help me finish school and he wasn’t going to let me quit,”” Rebecca said.

    The reverse was true for the Kellers. “”My parents got married at 19, so they didn’t say much,”” Stephanie Keller said. “”Sean’s parents weren’t exactly thrilled about it, but they were happy for us.””

    “”Both our parents saw it coming,”” Sean added.

    Friends, too, have been supportive, if sometimes surprised by the couples’ decisions. Rebecca said during a nursing school pinning ceremony, the presenter made a point of introducing her as “”Rebecca, formerly Tennant, now Winegar.””

    “”It was so embarrassing,”” she said.

    At first, her marriage was a big deal among her classmates. While the challenging nature of nursing school has since eclipsed that, sometimes they still bring it up.

    “”Sometimes randomly, they’ll be like, ‘I can’t believe you’re married. That’s so weird to me,'”” Rebecca said.

    Most of Stephanie Keller’s friends are either in long-term relationships or engaged or married themselves, so they are unfazed by her marriage, she said. But her husband sometimes experiences responses like those Rebecca hears.

    “”My friends were like, ‘Congratulations, that’s awesome.’ They were excited for me,”” Sean said. However, “”it’s kind of weird for them. Not weird, but just — we live a completely different life from them.””

    Both couples speak highly of married life and, despite the everyday stresses in their lives, still have that newlywed glow.

    “”We’re still at that, ‘Oh, we just got married,’ stage. I don’t think it’s exactly hit us yet,”” Stephanie Keller said.

    “”We’re good for each other. We look out for each other,”” Sean added.

    RJ Winegar expressed his happiness that he can care for Rebecca in ways that would have seemed inappropriate or overreaching while they were dating. “”Any troubles that we run into, we need to figure out on our own. I’m her family now … She’s mine,”” he said.

    Rebecca put it most succinctly. “”It’s just so wonderful,”” she said.

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