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A Jumbo Proposal

A Jumbo ProposalWith Valentine's Day right around the corner, graduates Lara Saipe and Matt Durgavich relive their recent Tufts proposal.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.12.09] Ducking down by a window at The Fletcher School, Aaron Donovan anxiously tries to avoid drawing attention to himself as he settles into the bushes and waits patiently. Familiar faces pass by him, but the 2003 Tufts graduate remains quiet. He is on a mission.

one_knee_400Camera steadied in hand, he sees a couple approach, stopping directly under the Bowen Gate archway. As the man in the red jacket slowly drops to one knee, Donovan sees his cue, and jumps into action. It's paparazzi time.

The targets are his friends and fellow 2003 graduates Lara Saipe and Matt Durgavich, who met during their senior year at Tufts and soon saw their friendship blossom into love. It only made sense that Durgavich's proposal, captured on film by Donovan, brought the couple full circle back to campus.

While neither studied English, Saipe, an anthropology major, and Durgavich, who studied computer science, met-of all places-in a course on creative writing during their final year at Tufts.

"Lara wrote me a letter after graduation and we developed a deeper friendship through correspondence," Durgavich recallslooking_400

After spending a year in her hometown of Chicago, Lara moved back to the Boston area for graduate school, and the two began to date. 

"As the years passed, I became more convinced that I wanted to share my life with her," Dugavich says. "I wanted to plan an engagement that was special, sentimental and unforgettable."

In the midst of his thoughts and planning, the couple, who currently share a home in Arlington, returned to their alma mater in May 2008 for their five-year reunion.

"Lara and I were attending the 'Jumbo Love' breakfast event, where photographers took couples' pictures under the gate," he says. "Our picture was cute, and I tucked away the memory of the gate for future reference."

According to Tufts legend, couples who kiss beneath Bowen Gate will eventually marry. Seven months later, on Dec. 28, Durgavich pulled out the memory he had tucked away and put it to use.momhug_400

"He told me we were taking our dog Gromit for a walk to Tufts, so I thought nothing of it," Saipe says with a laugh as she thinks back to that day. "It's only about a mile from our house so it was something we would do on occasion."

Noting that a proposal is often a key moment in one's life where pictures are lacking, Durgavich called on Donovan-his former Tufts roommate and fencing teammate who happens to be an avid photographer-to help record the event.

When Durgavich and Saipe finally approached the gate, everything began to fall in place.

"The dog noticed right away I was there, and you can see in a lot of the pictures he was looking right at me," Donovan laughed.

"I realized Aaron was there about halfway through," Saipe says. "I could just see him out of the corner of my eye and I thought, 'Wait a minute. Is that Aaron over there in the bushes? How odd.'"the_ring_400

After the surprise of Durgavich's proposal, Saipe quickly learned there was more to come.

"We walked down Packard Avenue a little bit and there were both of our families," Saipe says. "Matt had flown my family out from Chicago, and it really was quite the event."

Saipe adds, "I wasn't really surprised that we got engaged, because we have been together for a while now, so I knew it was coming at some point. I was, however, overwhelmed by the amount of thought and effort that went into it. It made it really special."

While nothing is set in stone, Saipe says they are looking to have the wedding this November in Chicago.

"Proposing at Tufts seemed ideal," Durgavich says. "We both have very fond memories of our time on the Hill, and the natural beauty of the campus makes it a really nice place to ask someone to be your wife.

Story by Kaitlin Melanson, Web Communication.
Photos by Aaron Donovan (E'03).


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