Joy, heartbreak color students’ Valentine memories

BY Vershay Burks,





For University of Detroit Mercy students, Valentine’s Day will be awkward, heart-breaking, romantic, sickening or just another day to share happiness with others.

Last week, many students and some staff members at UDM were asked about their most memorable Valentine’s Days.  

Some stories were the cookie-cutter, romantic experiences portrayed in movies, but others were the complete opposite.

Sophomore Ben Bourdeau, a 20-year-old information technology major, said that his most memorable Valentine’s Day occurred last year when he visited his girlfriend, Gina, who lives in Chicago.  

“I was sick, so we went to the movies and got Noodles & Company,” he said. “We saw ‘American Hustle.’ ”  

Bourdeau plans to do the same thing this year, but without the illness.

UDM Junior Karic Jones did the unusual and spent last Valentine’s Day with his good friend Vito Chirco.

“We had a man-date,” said Jones jokingly.

Last year, they attended the basketball match between the UDM Titans and Oakland University Grizzlies.

Jones said that after the game they went to Jimmy Johns, and then to Steak and Shake, where they discussed the Detroit and Oakland rivalry.

The waiter at Steak and Shake acted flirtatious towards Jones, said Jones. “It was very awkward,” he said.

Junior Paul Rogers had a more unfortunate story to tell.

Two years ago, he had a special Valentine’s Day scheduled with his then girlfriend.

“We had everything planned out. It was supposed to be this big day,” said Rogers.

When he went to pick up his girlfriend, he caught her being unfaithful with his own best friend.

“I found her and my best friend, who’s a girl,” he said.

Junior Paige Dykema, a 21-year-old biology major, went to Somerset Mall in Troy last Valentine’s Day.

“I took myself on a shopping spree,” she said.

She had dinner at one of her favorite restaurants, California Pizza Kitchen. She especially likes it there because they have many gluten-free options, and she has a gluten allergy.

Dykema bought herself new workout gear and some new shoes from her favorite store at Somerset, Macy’s.

“It’s three stories and never ending,” she said.

This year, Dykema plans to go to Canada with some friends.

Sophomore Gabrielle Buffa, a 19-year-old nursing major, also said that her most memorable Valentine’s Day came last year when her boyfriend of nearly five years bought her a very large card.

“It was, like, half my size,” Buffa said. “The outside says, ‘On Valentine’s Day, wanna know how much I love you?’ and then when you open it, it says, ‘This much. Happy Valentine’s Day!’ ”

Buffa still has the card, and has no plans to get rid of it.

“He probably will surprise me again this year,”  She said.

UDM junior Jason Marzette confessed to a bad Valentine’s experience with a girlfriend in his sophomore year of high school.

“I had a girlfriend from January to Feb. 15,” said Marzette.

They had planned a fancy Valentine’s Day together.

“Mind you, we had only seen each other twice, so this day was important,” said Marzette with an irritated demeanor.

Marzette said he woke on Valentine’s Day to a text from his girlfriend, saying she couldn’t make their date.

He proposed delaying it until 5 p.m.

“Five o’clock rolls around, no response from her,” he said.

He tried again at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Still no luck.

“At 8, I was like, ‘Do you even still want to go out?’” he said. “She was like, ‘Ohhh, I didn’t know you wanted to go out today.’”

They broke up the next day.

Fellow UDM student Avera Smith dumped her date the day after Valentine’s Day, too.

Last year, after Smith’s 18th birthday, she decided to date an older man that she met on a dating site.

“I met this guy off of . . . He was okay. He had a nice car,” she said.

It wasn’t long before things went downhill.

“I had to pay for the first date . . . but the worst thing about the date was he made me terribly sick,” she said. “I shouldn’t have kissed him.”

Senior Nikki Coleman, a 21-year-old business administration major, said that her most memorable Valentine’s Day came while her boyfriend, Mike, was in the Army and deployed in the Middle East.  

Even though he was overseas, he still made sure he got Coleman a gift.  

He sent Coleman a big teddy bear, roses and chocolates.

“It was so sweet that even though he was overseas, he did that for me,” Coleman said.

Senior psychology major Patricia Rowley, 23, holds fond memories of her 2011 celebration.

Her boyfriend went to Build-A-Bear and made her a bear.  

“He knew that I always wanted one,” Rowley said.

Then he dressed the bear in Michigan State University clothes, even though he knew she was a big University of Michigan fan.

They followed it with dinner at Sterling Bistro and a romantic night.

For senior Tiara Harvey, this is her first time being alone on Valentine’s Day in 11 years, though this is no sob story.

Harvey recalled when she was just a sophomore at the university.

Apparently, the student programming board held a Valentine’s Day auction in which students were able to buy other students, but the event didn’t turn out to be very successful, as Harvey remembers it. It only made around $61.

Although the event was a good idea and even better for the organization to raise money, Harvey said she regrets it.

“Yes, (I am) regretful,” she said. “I was trying to put my school first and it ruined my Valentine’s Day.”

For Alysa Jackson, director of University Services, Valentine’s Day 2009 remains special. It was her freshman year at UDM, and she was a member of the dance team.

Homecoming happened to land on Valentine’s Day in 2009, and the dance team was performing at the basketball game.

“The dance team had some great routines,” she said.

Jackson is a new mother, so she and her husband plan to be at home this Valentine’s Day.

Reyna Montgomery, a sophomore, recalls her current girlfriend when she thinks of the holiday.

Chocolates, balloons and a giant teddy bear were all part of a Valentine’s Day surprise she gave her girlfriend back in high school.

“You are the most beautiful girl in this school, and you deserve a woman like me to treat you like a queen,” Montgomery wrote on a card to her girlfriend.

UDM sophomore Jamari Jackson recalled his last Valentine’s Day.

“I decided that my Valentine should be my ex,” said Jackson.

But he bought her some Sweet Hearts candy and made a playlist of slow jams that they danced to, he said.

“We have been back together ever since then,” he said.

Twenty-four-year-old Javon Holland passed out candy to women on campus last year.

“I was doing something nice just because,” he said. “Did I think I could get lucky? In the back of my mind, maybe.”

Holland believes that Valentine’s Day should be every day.

“What was better was not just passing out candy, but seeing people’s faces,” he said. “Just brighten up a person’s day any day by doing something simple. Open a door for a lady or give a piece of candy to a girl you admire.”

Holland spoke of increasing self-love, too.

“Date yourself,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with that!”

Sophomore Imari Smith remembers her last Valentine’s Day with her grandfather.

“Never settle for less,” he told her before he passed.

He treated Smith and her cousins to a wonderful seafood dinner and several bottles of perfume before he left them. And even though Smith recounts her grandpa always telling her meaningful advice, those words never left her.

Greg Sumner, professor of history, said that his most memorable Valentine’s Day was when he was in second grade.

Sumner said that his whole class was delivering Valentine’s Day cards, and each student had to make a little white bag to hold their cards.

Sumner said that one student, who was well known as a “bad kid,” put monsters and “other mean things” on his bag, so Sumner decided to draw some on his bag, as well.  

The bad student got in trouble, and Sumner saw him being scolded, so he quickly grabbed his bag and threw it away before he, too, got in trouble.  

He then got a new bag and started over.

“Moral of the story: Don’t follow the crowd,” Sumner said.