Adelí Durón and Marvin Maldonado met when they were both freshmen at UC Irvine in 2001. Marvin was studying electrical engineering while Adelí was studying Chicano-Latino Studies. Both lived in Elrond in Middle Earth dorms, and an awkward first meeting bloomed into a deep friendship, then eventually into romance.
On campus, both became passionate about helping others, specifically Latino organizations. This commitment to others later turned into careers for both. Adelí is the director of Veteran Services on campus and Marvin is the director of Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement Schools Program (a K-12 outreach program) at San Diego State University, though he previously worked at UC Irvine’s MESA Schools Program for 5 years.
They connected through similar backgrounds, Latino cultures, and family values. But they attribute UC Irvine as critical to their growth. In fact, guess where Marvin proposed? Aldrich Park!
1. When did you meet your sweetheart?
Freshman year 2001, when we both were living in Elrond in Middle Earth dorms.
2. How did you meet your sweetheart?
AD: I said hello first passing him in the hall. As a Latina, I thought Marvin was Filipino. But my friend said, “Let’s find out” and dragged me over to him. It was really awkward.
MM: When I first moved into the dorms, I noticed her as a Latina. But I got to know her because my roommate wanted to see Adelí’s friend. He asked me to be his wingman. So we went on a couple of “dates” together. The more we talked, the more I liked her.
AD: And vice versa. I went for my friend, who wanted some support (and safety). She ended up the maid of honor at our wedding.
3. What attracted you to each other?
AD: After going to an all-girls high school, I wanted a guy best friend. When I saw Marvin, he was really nice and seemed like a good friend. We also share the same family values and dynamics.
MM: We’re both the eldest in our families. And we share the feeling of needing to set examples. We could really relate to each other. Lots of late-night talks. It was honestly a solid friendship to begin with.
AD: I got really involved on campus, so there were a lot of late dinners and Marvin would always wait for me.
It was important to me for a boyfriend to not only see me dolled up, but as my normal self — without make up. It really evolved into a friendship.
MM: Most of the time she didn’t look her best. Just kidding.
We had so much in common: similar backgrounds, similar ideologies.
4. How long have you been together?
Feb. 10 this year will be 11 years! We’ve been married for three.
5. Favorite love song?
AD: Marvin used to make me CDs and the first song on the first CD was “My Girl” by The Temptations. It’s still one of our favorites.
6. Favorite love story/poem/book/movie?
AD: “The Notebook”
MM: Even though most guys will laugh, I’ll support that answer.
7. Best Valentine’s Day present?
We emphasize our dating anniversary more, which is Feb. 10 and so close to Valentine’s Day. Instead of going out, our Valentine’s tradition is to cook dinner together. Usually, it’s something out of the norm.
8. What are you planning for Valentine’s Day this year?
This year, we’re cooking rack of lamb for the first time.
9. What’s the secret to keeping a good love story going?
AD: Friendship and communication. Through the years, everyone has tough times. For us, talking about our long-term relationship goals helped clarify what were dealbreakers and what we wanted for the future.
MM: I’m a jokester and I like to laugh as much as I can. I enjoy making her laugh. We laugh every day. That’s one of our strengths.
10. How did UC Irvine play a part in your love story?
MM: We met here. We grew together here. And we flourished.
We both were involved in campus organizations. I got involved in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. That was my thing. She was heavily involved in MECHA and the Cross-Cultural Center.
It wasn’t hard to find support on campus. Once we found it, we flourished.
There’s a good culture on campus that fosters diversity and engagement. That was one of the best parts of my experience as a student.
I needed a job to help pay for school. Adelí was working at the Center for Educational Partnerships and I also got a job there.
AD: I want to clarify that it was before we started dating. I truly thought we were just going to be friends.
MM: CFEP was really rewarding and I thought about teaching. But once I graduated, the MESA Program was hiring. It was the perfect blend of what I loved: outreach and education blending with my engineering background. That really solidified my career path.
When I decided to propose, I was thinking of where to do it. What would be a significant location for both of us? It was a no-brainer. UC Irvine!
We met here, this has been our home. This is where we’ve grown individually and as a couple. It just made sense. Aldrich Park is so beautiful, so that was obvious.
11. How did the proposal go?
MM: I came up with an elaborate plan. My sister had recently had her quinceañera pictures taken in Aldrich Park and she brought home a huge grapefruit. So I told Adelí that I needed to pick up one of those for my sister’s science project before we had dinner. [Marvin and Adelií are under the grapefruit tree in the photo!]
I really wanted to do something creative. So I made a video of our top ten memories together — a countdown to number one, which was blank. When it got to one, I got down on my knee and said my spiel.
I asked her a couple of times if she was sure. She was crying and I was laughing.
AD: I had an intuition. I told my friend a week before it happened, “I feel like he’s going to propose really soon.” Not because I had suspected or seen anything. I just felt it internally. It turned out to be the same day Marvin picked up the ring.
12. Any advice for Anteaters seeking love?
MM: “Don’t do it!” (laughing)
Don’t force it. Don’t go looking for love.
For us, it came naturally. We weren’t looking for love.
We just let it happen. We let our friendship develop without strings attached. Friendship was the foundation.