Married Students Live New College Experience

    Married couple Annalisa and Will Perez pose together in front of Geisel Library. The couple married during spring break of their sophomore year, one day after the conclusion of finals week. (Will Parson/Guardian)

    Four years ago, in a general chemistry class, Thurgood
    Marshall College senior Annalisa Perez spilled acid on Eleanor Roosevelt
    College senior Will Perez’s notebook. Embarrassed, she offered to buy him a new
    one. Little did she know, one year later, her acid-spill victim would be her
    future husband. Now in their second year of marriage, the Perezes are a college
    minority.

    They scheduled their wedding around UCSD’s quarter system
    and married during spring break of their sophomore year. Despite the stressful
    combination of finals and last-minute wedding planning, Annalisa was satisfied
    with the timing of her commitment.

    “I didn’t want to wait [to get married] because life is
    going to get crazier once we start med school and grad school,” Annalisa said.

    Despite their situation, the Perezes longed to commit. Just
    one year after dating, they both realized that they wanted to get married.

    “I know it sounds borderline cliche,” Will said, “but I knew
    after the first real deep conversation that we had that I wanted to spend the
    rest of my life with her. [My friends] kept on asking, ‘Are you sure? Are you
    sure?’ But after I told them that she’s the one, they were more receptive about
    it.”

    Like the Perezes, Eleanor Roosevelt College junior Carmen
    Grageola also married during college.

    “The big reason was that I felt I was ready,” Grageola said.
    “At age 17, all I wanted to do was go to school. At 18, I did see myself
    marrying young.”

    Like any college student, Grageola is busy; however, school
    is not her main focus. She works approximately 40 hours a week at the UCSD
    Bookstore in addition to taking classes. She and her husband — who works two
    jobs and is in the Army Reserves — have two young children. While she works and
    attends class, her mother and her husband take care of her sons.

    With added family responsibilities of her own, Grageola
    doesn’t have the concerns of a typical college student.

    “Once you get married you don’t think about what to wear,”
    Grageola said. “You have to think about what to cook for dinner. [College
    students] have the luxury to do what they want to do without having to think
    about other people and how it’s going to affect people living in the same
    household.”

    Although her commitment to her family takes up much of her
    time, Grageola manages to study during her lunch breaks and at night, after her
    children are asleep.

    “When I study I have
    to really focus because I know I won’t have a second chance,” Grageola said.

    Grageola also has difficulties managing her social life and
    can only set aside two hours a month to catch up with her friends. The Perezes
    feel similarly about their social ties.

    “Just like any
    relationship, you want to spend more time with the person so you have to put
    other activities aside,” Will said. “First it was friends, then it was working
    out and now it’s sleep.”

    The Perezes noticed that after their marriage, their
    mindsets about schoolwork became more focused and they became less preoccupied
    with things that would distract a typical, single college student.

    “I realize we have different backgrounds and interests,”
    Will said. “I am trying to take notes intently on my laptop while the person
    next to me is on MySpace.”

    Due to the demanding responsibilities of her family,
    Grageola’s interests have also evolved.

    “I’m on the side of life where I already did it and I’m
    ready for something else,” she said. “Now just having coffee with friends and
    having a nice conversation for hours — that’s enough; it’s fulfilling … you’re
    settled down and thinking on a different level.”

    According to Housing and Dining Services Director Mark
    Cunningham, there are 41 married
    undergraduates living in the Affiliated Residential Community Housing for
    married graduate and undergraduate couples and in university-owned complexes
    such as Mesa Apartments and La Jolla del Sol. Thirty-five of the married
    undergraduates have children.

    While their college lifestyle may have been different from
    the majority of their peers’, both Gageola and the Perezes are satisfied with
    their decision.

    “I do get a little bit jealous, I’m not going to lie … but,
    at the same time, I feel so accomplished on so many levels,” Grageola said.
    “When I come home I have two little ones that run to me and say, ‘Mommy,’ [and]
    that makes up for everything else.”

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