Born a Red Hawk

The baby almost born in Bohn Hall graduates from Montclair and is now engaged to a Red Hawk, too

In a life story that has come full circle, the baby who was almost born in Bohn Hall is now a graduate. Diana Sisk-Gritz earned a bachelor's degree in Marine Biology and Coastal Sciences as part of the combined BS/MS program.

An April 2000 edition of The Montclarion. Photo courtesy of The Montclarion archives

Twenty-two years ago, her mother, Stefanie Mulley, then a Montclair freshman, went into a surprise labor in the residence hall – not knowing she was even pregnant. Floormates helped their friend continue with her classes, babysitting when she would bring baby Diana to campus and giving her a onesie emblazoned with "Everybody loves me at Montclair State University."

As a student, Sisk-Gritz embraced the Red Hawk spirit. She also fell in love. And that's where the second part of this Red Hawk story begins.

Sisk-Gritz celebrated her graduation with family on June 4, during the afternoon Convocation ceremony for the College of Science and Mathematics. It was going to be a long day because her boyfriend Tyler Frantino was also celebrating his own Convocation for the College of the Arts that evening.

In between, the families passed the time taking photographs and walking around campus, Frantino with an eye to the perfect place to pull off a surprise of his own.

"We were taking pictures near the Red Hawk statue, and I was going to ask her there. But that seemed way too cheesy," Frantino says about the proposal he was going to make. When the family gathered on top of the small hill looking over Sprague Field, he saw that the setting was perfect.

Tyler Frantino proposes to Diana Sisk-Gritz on Saturday, June 4, between their two Convocation ceremonies. Photo by Matthew Rolfert

"It was a beautiful background," Frantino says. "It was set up for the ceremonies, so you could place the time that it happened." He doesn't quite remember all that he said on bended knee. "You can practice as much as you want, but when it's happening, it's amazing but very stressful … Diana said 'Yes,' and immediately after, with no hesitation, she told me I had a bug on my shoulder."

"When we found out our Convocations were the same day, I told him it would be so cute if he proposed since, for me, so much has happened at Montclair," Sisk-Gritz says. "I was surprised but I had a feeling because my family was being weird. My mom was doing a livestream and I was wondering why she was recording."

For her mother, the engagement is especially sweet, given her fond memories of Diana's earliest days on campus. In stories first published in the University's student newspaper, The Montclarion, Mulley recalled the friends on her floor in Bohn Hall who helped babysit Diana. "They would dress Diana up like a doll," Mulley told the paper.

A family keepsake. Photo courtesy of Diana Sisk-Gritz

Sisk-Gritz's birth story always made for a great icebreaker whenever she met new people on campus. "I feel like a secret celebrity, honestly," Sisk-Gritz told The Montclarion. Mulley didn't end up finishing her degree, but when her daughter began applying to colleges she told her: "You were born a Red Hawk, you have to go to Montclair."

Now, Sisk-Gritz jokingly says that her mom is beginning to hint, "You're engaged to a Red Hawk, you have to marry at Montclair." No wedding date has been set but Sisk-Gritz returned to campus this fall to finish her master's program, researching the invasive clinging jellyfish found at the Jersey Shore, and then she plans to go to veterinary school. Frantino is working as a graphic designer for Middlesex County.

"Everyone's love story is unique," Sisk-Gritz says, "but I feel like this one is, especially for me."