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Here’s how three CSULB couples show their love for The Beach

Published February 11, 2021

Whether it was love at first sight or finding kinship in the student newsroom, there are plenty of love stories that found their beginnings at The Beach. 

In celebration of a special Valentine’s Day-themed fundraiser, we asked three couples who met at Cal State Long Beach to share their stories and how they still support student success today. 

The Show Your Love for The Beach fundraiser takes place Feb. 11 and Feb. 12. To donate,

joe and carolyn ruszkiewicz
Joe and Carolyn Ruszkiewicz

Joe and Carolyn Ruszkiewicz

Journalists at heart, Joe and Carolyn Ruszkiewicz knew they were right for each other as soon as they met in 1967. Joe graduated from CSULB in 1970 with a degree in creative writing, and Carolyn graduated with a comparative literature bachelor’s degree in 1971 and an English literature master’s in 1973.

Joe shares their story below:

How we met

Actually, Carolyn and I met at Long Beach City College in January 1967. I was the outgoing editor of the Viking (student newspaper) and she was the incoming editor. From there, we both went on to CSULB as did many of our closest friends who were fellow journalism students. 

Favorite date activities at CSULB

Because we both worked and attended classes, there wasn’t much time for extensive socializing on the CSULB campus, except for the occasional lunch. But we did get together after hours to “rap” at our respective homes with our journalism friends. As far as personal socializing, Carolyn and I would have pizza in the back room at Di Piazza’s on 2nd Street in Belmont Shore. 

When we knew we would one day get married

From the moment we met in 1967 and realized that we were kindred spirits, which we still are 54 years later. We pretty much think alike and often find ourselves saying something the other of us was thinking at the moment.

How we stay connected with CSULB

We get together for lunch with Howie Fitzgerald (Director of Development for the College of Liberal Arts) who fills us in on all the latest developments, primarily in the communications department at CSULB. 

What we love most about CSULB

The people we met there, who are still our best friends today. 

How we show your love for CSULB

We’ve made it a part of our estate plan.

Our most recent gift

We make an annual contribution at Christmastime to the 49er Foundation

Jeremy and Kellee Harris
Jeremy and Kellee Harris

Jeremy and Kellee Harris

For Jeremy and Kellee Harris, it was policy that brought them together. They both met through CSULB Associated Students, Inc. Government and majored in political science. Kelle got her degree in 2002, and Jeremy graduated in 2004 with a degree in criminal justice and political science.

How we met

ASI student government. It was love and politics at first sight! 

Favorite date activities at CSULB

Dinner on 2nd Street and a movie and hanging out at our favorite spots: Belmont Station, Murphy's and Shannon's. 

A fun fact about our wedding

CSULB University Honors Program Director, Dr. Albie Burke officiated at our wedding! He was Kellee's mentor and friend. 

How we stay connected to CSULB

Attending various alumni and athletic events, including Concerts in the Grove, Jewels of the Night, basketball games, Dirtbags games and Homecoming. Kellee keeps in touch with the President's Scholars organization and Delta Gamma. She’s taught several Constitutional Law classes for the Criminal Justice Department at CSULB, and she’s judged several of CSULB's Moot Court competitions. Jeremy serves on the 49er Shops Board of Directors and remains an active alum with his Fraternity, Delta Chi.

What we love most about CSULB

The close-knit family feeling mixed with the benefits of a large university: diverse class offerings, stellar professors and a gorgeous campus. 

How we show our love for CSULB

Staying active with the university and promoting it throughout the community. Jeremy does this constantly in his role as President/CEO of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

Our most recent gift 

The Drive to 49 - our love for the University and a commitment to moving it forward. 

Tracy Mendoza and Jolene Sagan
Jolene Sagan and Tracy Mendoza

Jolene Sagan and Tracy Mendoza

It was activism that brought Tracy Mendoza and Jolene Sagan together. They both took classes in the Department of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies. Tracy received her bachelor’s in English in 1997 and earned her master’s in English in 2001. Jolene graduated with a bachelor’s in women’s studies in 2002 and a master’s in public administration in 2004. 

Tracy shares their story below:

How did you and Jolene meet?

Twenty years ago this month (February), we met in what was formerly known as the Women’s Studies program, where we shared a passion for activism. In a stroke of good luck and coincidence, we also worked in the same division on campus and would run into each other during work. 

What were your favorite date activities at CSULB?

Lunchtime dates at The Outpost! Grilled cheese and french fries were often involved. We also spent a lot of time getting to know each other at what was known as the Women’s Resource Center (now the Women's and Gender Equity Center). 

How do you both stay connected to CSULB?

Jolene stays connected by supporting students as a staff member. She has also served as a mentor with the Alumni Association and helped with alumni activities, such as commencement. We have also regularly attended Dirtbags games, Concerts at The Beach, occasional sporting events and supporting students and programs.

What do you love most about the university? 

The students. We were both first-generation students and appreciate that the university has always prioritized underrepresented students. We love its connection to the City of Long Beach and the vast network of Beach family who also make up our extraordinary network of friends.

How do you show your love for CSULB? 

We give our time, energy, advocacy and hearts to the university and the community it supports. 

What was your most recent gift? 

Our most recent gifts have supported students, through scholarships and support for Basic Needs