Can higher education be romantic? While some couples need long walks on the beach or a glass of wine beside a crackling fire, Cupid shot his bow right through a syllabus at Dana Jocic Burris and Robert Burris.
The two met when they were undergraduates at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. They walked in the same Commencement ceremony to get their undergraduate degrees — his in secondary education and hers a double major in family and consumer sciences and marketing. With the diplomas out of the way, they got married in July 2010.
On June 20, they’ll walk together at Commencement again, but this time at National Louis University for their master’s degrees.
“I got my Master of Arts in Teaching in Early Childhood,” Dana Burris said, “and his masters is in Curriculum and Instruction with a Special Education endorsement.”
After getting their undergraduate degrees, Dana, who is originally from Deerfield, Ill., worked in an early childhood setting, and Robert, who is originally from Pekin, Ill., worked in business.
“But he realized his heart was in education, and we both really wanted to get into education,” Dana said. “We thought the best thing to do was go back to school to make ourselves more marketable.”
Robert has been working as a special education teacher at JCFS Therapeutic Day School in Chicago’s North side Rogers Park neighborhood for several months, and Dana did her student teaching at the Dr. Martin Luther King Literary and Fine Arts School in Evanston/Skokie School District 65. She then filled in for a maternity leave, and hopes to be working full-time come September.
So what was it like for them to pursue their master’s degrees together?
“It was nice having that support,” Dana reminisced. “It was nice having someone understand what you’re going through—for example, why you can’t talk, because you were up late studying or writing a paper.
“We were both working at the time we were going to school, so we needed the extra support.”