The crowd roared when he went down on one knee.
At the SUNY New Paltz lip-sync finals, a dancing competition among first-year students, the gymnasium full of unsuspecting students and faculty were met with a heartwarming surprise: a marriage proposal.
Robert Moysey, newly appointed Coordinator of Transfer Student Engagement and former Resident Director, proposed to his girlfriend of three years, Esopus Hall Resident Director, Shannon Calderon on Friday, Aug. 22.
The couple’s history at SUNY New Paltz runs deep.
“Everything we have together—the memories—happened here [at New Paltz],” Moysey said.
Moysey and Calderon were students together, but only met in passing until working together at New Paltz in 2011.
“I don’t think he could have chosen a better way to propose,” Calderon said. “SUNY New Paltz means so much to the both of us, from when we were students to working here professionally now and it just feels so fitting to me. It may sound cliché, but this school completely changed my life and I attribute so many of my happiest memories and my most amazing experiences to being here.”
Aside from the couple’s connection to the school, Moysey decided to propose at the lip-sync competition because of the large audience.
“I’m glad I had people there to experience it with me,” Moysey said. “I think it has a more lasting, profound effect now. It is a memory that not only we have, but the people around that witnessed [the proposal] have as well.”
Moysey had to work out a few details to ensure that his surprise went as well as he hoped.
He reached out to the Dean of Students Robin Cohen-LaValle, Coordinator for First-Year Programming Tara Sestanovich, Administrative Program Associate Stephanie Pina, Resident Director Brandon Goodman and his supervisor Michelle Combs.
Combs contacted Senior Orientation Leader Emily Holub to recruit Orientation Leaders Emma Scott and Jeff Owusu to help out.
Second-year undeclared student Scott made the “Will you marry me?” banner. She got to know Shannon over the summer and was “so happy to be included in the proposal,” she said.
“Shannon is a fantastic person, and wants everyone else to be happy,” Scott said. “It was amazing that she got this moment to feel special in front of hundreds of people.”
According to Calderon, her fiancée’s efforts paid off.
“When you hear about or see these amazing proposals on the Internet or from friends, you never think that will happen to you,” she said. “I’m still completely in shock that [Moysey] put together this amazing event and at the orientation lip-sync finals, no less.”
Calderon worked for the orientation program for the past three summers and said it was “so wonderful to be able to have this incredible event happen while with the Orientation Leaders and staff.”