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Centennial Stories

Cassandra Hesseltine (’96, Psychology)

This year, in a few weeks, I turn 40. Big step in life. But almost as big is the fact that I have spent half my life with my husband, thanks to HSU. We met when I was 20 and he was 25 while in college. I was actually about to transfer to a college closer to home when I decided to stick it out just a little longer. A few weeks later in the fall, I met my husband to be. The unfortunate part was that he was a senior and going to graduate in the spring. I figured he would just leave once school was out and we would never see each other again. Lucky for me, I couldn’t be more wrong! Upon his graduation, he stuck around and opened up a juice bar while waiting for me. Before he graduated though, he informed me that he would one day ask me to marry him. And sure enough, in my junior year and on my birthday (Feb 15th) he asked me to do just that.

It was mid-week. I had a quiz that day on my 22nd birthday at 9 a.m. on campus. Not being a morning person, I was not looking forward to the wake up call. Unbeknownst to me, there was a surprise waiting for me. I woke up to a mini-birthday party and an escort to school by my husband (then boyfriend). While driving me to campus, he took the wrong street and ended up in front of the juice bar. In large, red letters there was the question that would change my life, “Cassandra, Will you marry me?” Of course I said yes! Minutes later there was a ring on my finger, my parents gave their blessing and I was back in route on the way to school. But there was one problem. I missed the quiz. Upon my arrival, the professor asked if I had a good reason for being late. I answered, “Yes, I just got engaged.” With a big smile, he congratulated me and asked me to take my seat.

So began the relationship of my life. From college sweetheart to husband to the father of my two children, he has been my best friend and soulmate. We have traveled together, built two houses together, had career challenges together and most importantly, experienced life together. We have dealt with tugs at the heart and enjoyed celebrations that only our children can bring.

After moving around for careers, we have settled back in Arcata. My husband is a general contractor building custom homes in Humboldt while I am the film commissioner for Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. My job often leads me to work with film students at HSU and I always feel a sense of pride when I walk on campus. More importantly, I always remember our first kiss. It was fall and we were walking to campus for Lumberjack Days. We made a stop in the middle of the stairwell ascending from the lower parking lot behind Gist Hall to the front of Gist. My husband took my face in his hands and kissed me ever so sweetly. To this day, I can’t walk the stairs without thinking of it.

Ironically, as I write this, we are getting ready to attend a Humboldt State basketball game tonight. I look forward to being on campus. We just might have to make a stop on “our” stairs.

Thanks Humboldt State University for not only giving me an education but also the love of my life!

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