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A Diploma – and a Surprise Proposal

The story behind the sweet ‘Will you marry me?’ moment for a Montclair State University Public Health grad

Posted in: Education and Human Services, Homepage News

Man in cap and gown on stage proposing to woman in cap and gown
Hendy Joseph, on bended knee, asks Kathy Fevrius, “Will you marry me?”

The moment when Kathy Fevrius said “Yes,” in front of a cheering crowd of graduates, capped months of planning to pull off a surprise proposal during the June 2 Convocation ceremony for the College of Education and Human Services (CEHS).

“This year, we’d like to do something different, where we acknowledge a CEHS student in a special way,” said Assistant Dean Carolina E. Gonzalez, inviting Fevrius to the stage for recognition of her student experience at Montclair State University, “one that embodies the identity of our college.”

Behind the scenes, Gonzalez was in on a surprise that soon would be viewed live at Sprague Field and afterwards by thousands on social media.

Just minutes earlier, Hendy Joseph had hurried from the bleachers, secretly entering the field, and was waiting backstage with a large bouquet of flowers. On cue – Gonzalez inviting to the podium “a special someone” to present Fevrius with the honor – Joseph would in fact ask Fevrius for the honor of her hand in marriage.

“Kathy, no words can express my love for you,” Joseph said. “I love you.” And then, on bended knee, “Will you marry me?”

Fevrius, her hands covering her smiling face in surprise, said, “Yes.”

A proposal, a yes and a hug.

Fevrius is a January 2022 graduate who earned a BS in Public Health with a concentration in Health Systems Administration and Policy. Her professors and those who worked with her at her internship at the East Orange Health Department describe her as a thoughtful, wise and passionate woman who will make outstanding contributions as a public health professional. She currently works at the Bergen Arts and Science Charter Middle School in Garfield, New Jersey.

The couple met at the Tabernacle Church Of God in Newark, and for Joseph, from the moment he first saw Fevrius, “I knew that one day she would be my wife,” he says in a letter about their courtship. It took a year before he found the courage to let her know how he felt and some time before “Kathy agreed to speak to me or even show any interest of some sort, but after seeking the Lord’s approval on her end and me being persistent on my end, Kathy agreed to give me a chance and allow me in her life.”

 Kathy Fevrius believed she was receiving a special honor and was surprised – and delighted – by the ring and proposal.

The story of their engagement has caught the attention of media outlets, including The Star-Ledger/, which reported that Fevrius was thrilled – and surprised – by the gesture.

According to the newspaper, Joseph seemed unusually busy and distracted Thursday morning but she didn’t know why.

“I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ He said, ‘I don’t want to tell you now. I’ll tell you later,’” she said.

She also said there was no doubt of her answer.

“He’s so caring. Oh my goodness,” she said. “He doesn’t want me to suffer anytime. I love him.” Joseph says they plan a church engagement later this month and a wedding in August 2023.

In his letter, the groom-to-be expresses his love. “She is literally a gift sent from Heaven … Kathy is the definition of a soulmate, pure love and affection.”

As they parted the Convocation stage, Fevrius returned to her seat where she would shortly receive her diploma alongside 350 other CEHS graduates, Joseph to the family waiting on the stadium sidelines. Gonzalez wished them “a lifetime of happiness and love.”

Fevrius at her seat after the proposal, laughing.
  After the proposal, Kathy Fevrius returns to her place on the Convocation field.

Story by Staff Writer Marilyn Joyce Lehren. Photos by University Photographer Mike Peters.

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