Magic recipe ignites workplace romance: BCIT alumni Resident Advisors find love on campus 12 years ago

Finding love at BCIT is a story shared by many alumni couples. Meeting someone through work may be just as common, according to a recent Forbes study revealing that 43 percent of the respondents had married someone they met at work.

For BCIT alumni couple Carmen Cottini and William Nicholos, the odds of love were stacked in their favour. In 2012, the couple met as students after getting hired as BCIT Student Housing Resident Advisors on the Burnaby Campus.

BCIT alumni student housing resident advisors smile to camera in 2013
Carmen and William as Resident Advisors in 2013

As Resident Advisors, Carmen and William lived on campus, working to create a positive housing community for students while acting as a front-line management team.

After six months of working together and getting to know each other as friends, William planned a first date for them at Brohm Lake near Squamish, Carmen’s favourite lake.

William packed tuna sandwiches for their lunch, which Carmen admits wasn’t the most romantic choice but thoughtful, nonetheless.

“I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I hated tuna, so I ate it,” Carmen admits, adding that his sandwich skills inspired a change of heart. “To this day, his tuna fish melts remain one of my all-time favourite foods.”

William’s tuna recipe clearly held some magic, sparking their romance and her new favourite fare. But for the adventurous alumni couple, their biggest, most lifechanging surprise was still to come.

A perfectly imperfect proposal

Since their first date, the couple recalls many fond memories made together as students and RAs, studying in the ehPod and strolling the southside of campus. They say that the backbone of their relationship has always been their strong friendship.

Carmen shares the most romantic thing William has done for her was his surprise proposal in December of 2019. The couple went up to Grouse Mountain to do the festive Light Walk and go for dinner.

“He had worn, what can only be described as ridiculous boots with no grip,” chuckles Carmen, “So for the entire walk, he was sliding around and leaning on me for support.”

After clumsily slipping and sliding through the entire Light Walk experience, William insisted they do it again. Carmen recalls being confused why he’d want to go through that again, but she agreed.

Not long into attempting the walk again, William got down on one knee, and reassured Carmen that this time he hadn’t slipped. Under the twinkling lights, surrounded by snow-covered mountains, he proposed.

“I was completely surprised,” Carmen beams, adding that the ring he picked out was absolutely perfect.

Though unexpected, the proposal was everything Carmen had hoped for: “I grew up in the mountains in Smithers, so being proposed to, surrounded by snow, and in Sorel boots, was exactly what I wanted, without me even knowing it.”

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And then there were five: Growing together in life and love

William, who graduated with a Bachelor of Accounting in 2013, is a Partner at De Visser Gray LLP, while Carmen has grown her career at BCIT as Associate Director of Student Housing after graduating from BCIT’s Radiation Therapy degree program in 2013.

The couple was married in the fall of 2023, after delaying due to the pandemic. They have their hands full with a 19-month-old named Asher and two dogs, Phillip and Oscar. Despite their busy lives, they make time for romance by planning adventures and quality time together.

Carmen shares advice for couples looking to go the distance: “Stay grounded in what brought you together. Life has its ups and downs, as do relationships. If you can focus on what you like about each other as people, then you can get through almost anything.”

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