A Whittier College Love Story

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Eric Colunga ’12 and Alyssa De Santiago ’10 hardly imagined that a Whittier College toga party would be the place to find love.

The story behind how exactly they met at that party, however, depends on whom you ask. 

While dancing with her Metaphonian sisters, De Santiago was playfully pushed into Colunga. “Alyssa was too nervous to talk to the most handsome man she had ever seen,” he explains. The two spent the remainder of the party talking and exchanged phone numbers. “We went on our first date to [the local] Norms restaurant. I did not know the Whittier area very well at the time, but we ended up having a good night.”

De Santiago admits that Colunga’s restaurant selection was a bit strange. Nonetheless, she was happy to be spending time with him away from campus. “By the end of the date, I knew that there was something different about Eric . . . it felt different.”   

Five years later, Colunga and De Santiago found themselves discussing a possible engagement. De Santiago made it clear: she wanted the proposal to come as a complete surprise.

And it did.

“That day, we had plans to go to his cousin’s birthday party, so I didn’t suspect a thing,” says De Santiago. “We were running errands all morning, just going about our normal routine.”

Colunga brought De Santiago to the College to propose because “it was where we fell in love, where we began our lives together.”

As the couple share an engraved brick along Founders Walkway, Colunga arranged for a photographer to catch the moment when he slipped De Santiago’s engagement ring on her finger and asked for her hand in marriage.

The big day will take place on September 19, 2015 — seven years to the day that De Santiago was pushed into Colunga at the toga party.

“I knew there was something different about this girl and how this could be the start of something great,” said Colunga. “And it was.”

- by Brianna Esparza ’14