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Bronco Love Stories

The university keeps a variety of statistics about its students – average GPA, how many come from public vs. private school, most popular classes, graduation rates. One statistic that it doesn’t track is the number of Cal Poly Pomona couples, though it’s safe to say there are a lot. Here’s just a sampling from the past decades.

Peter Hadinger, ’81, electrical and electronics engineering, and Cheryl, ’83, park administration

Peter and Cheryl HadingerCheryl, an ag alumna, remembers commuting to campus in a “hideous” orange Datsun B210. The $400 clunker was impossible to miss in the parking lot.

During her sophomore year, she met her future husband, who had an attractive car that wasn’t orange. “Peter had a cool car – a Fiat X1/9 convertible. I thought that anyone who could have a cool car like that must be somewhat OK,” she laughs.

Despite its shortcomings in the appearances department, the Datsun survived all through Cheryl’s college years. Plus, it served as an important message carrier during their courtship. Driving to campus, Peter could easily spot Cheryl’s car and often left mementos on her windshield.

Peter and Cheryl Hadinger“So many times I would go back to my car after classes all day and I would find a poem or a rose,” Cheryl says. “It was so easy to find my car in the parking lot because of the color!”

Peter, who is two years older, met Cheryl through Rose Float and continued to volunteer after he graduated, but for a price. Cheryl, who was the chair of the flower-growing committee, needed volunteers to pull weeds in the 2-acre flower field.  Engineering students often sought Peter’s expertise on the float design, and he was always willing to help — as long as they put in at least two or three hours of garden duty.

The couple, who live outside of Washington, D.C., married in 1982 and have five sons. One followed in his parents’ footsteps: He majored in engineering at Cal Poly Pomona and met his wife, an Ag alumna, on campus.

Steve Kikuchi, ’77, landscape architecture, and Jane Kikuchi, ’77, recreation administration

Steve and Jane KikuchiThe residence halls brought Steve and Jane together in 1974. He was a resident advisor, and she worked at the front desk at La Cienega.

Steve jokes, “I hate to say it, but it wasn’t love at first sight.” They started as friends, sharing a love for animals, sports and their education. A few months later, Steve asked Jane out to dinner – the night before a dorm-organized skydiving trip.

“By that time, I had decided I liked Jane and wanted to ask her out on a date. I think it was because I was going skydiving – what do I have to lose?”

Steve and Jane KikuchiThe couple dated for about a year but went their separate ways after graduation. Jane moved back to the Midwest where she grew up, and Steve began his career in Northern California. Still, they kept in touch through hand-written letters and late night phone calls.

“There were some late night calls because of the time difference. Also, the rates for calling went down after 11 p.m. I remember being on a budget and waiting until that time to call because it was cheaper,” Jane says.

A few years later, she returned to California, and they were married in 1984. The couple, who live in Half Moon Bay, have fond memories of their college years, including the Arabian horses, the beautiful campus, outdoor classes, and long nights in the ENV building.

“I am forever grateful for Cal Poly not only for my education but also personally,” Steve says. “It was a turning point in my life. It gave me the skills and knowledge to run a business. It’s where I met my wife and some of my best friends.”

Dale Wong, ’78, engineering technology, and Tina Wong, ’85, information systems

Dale and Tina Wong holding Rose Float shirtsDale and Tina Wong, both leaders of the Rose Float program, were set up by their friends for the club’s annual banquet. Conveniently, everyone else already had dates, so Dale, the incoming committee chairman, asked Tina, who was the incoming club president. The arrangement worked, and the couple has been together ever since.

Rose Float marriages are quite common, and Tina has a few insights as to why. Rose Float isn’t easy – long days, long nights, missed holidays – yet extremely rewarding and a lot fun. “You’ve seen each other at your worst, you’ve gone through this whole experience. There’s a lot of stress and a lot of pressure,” she says. “Even though it was hard work, we had a great time.”

Rose Float also teaches compromise, flexibility and understanding, which are hallmarks of any successful relationship.

“You had to figure it out, work things out and compromise with all kinds of people. Our goal was to make everyone enjoy the experience and come back in future years,” Tina says. “It was challenging, but that’s why we had all these different activities to interest people, to make them think that this isn’t just work, it’s fun.”

One of their fondest memories is Tina’s 21st surprise birthday party. Dale spent six months learning country western dance and he transformed the Rose Float lab into a hoedown. There were hay bales, choice cuts from the beef unit, and a bucking bronco fashioned from a 55-gallon drum.

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