Penguin Mates, Fall 2013

In the summer 2013 edition of  YSU Magazine, we invited married YSU couples to share their love stories in our new Penguin Mates feature. We introduced the first nine couples that wrote to us in the print edition of our fall 2013 issue, and you can read their stories and see all their photos here.

Penguin Mates will be a continuing feature in YSU’s alumni magazine. If you and your spouse are both YSU graduates, we’d like to share your story.

Tell us how you met, and a little about your life today, in 300 words or less, and send it with a current photograph and/or a wedding photo. The photo should be a close-up, head-and-shoulders shot; if emailed, it must be a high-resolution jpeg, at least 3.5”x 5” and 300 dpi. Be sure to include your degrees, graduation years, city of residence, an email address and phone number so that we can contact you. Send to: or Editor, YSU Magazine, One University Plaza, Youngstown, OH 44515.


Neil Ciminero, ’72 BA in philosophy, and Sandra Elser Ciminero, ’73 BA in art, were married on July 14, 1973.  They live in North Lima, Ohio.

Penguin Mates photo Ciminero

Sandra and Neil Ciminero in 1973

How We Met … It was October 3, 1969, and my first day of work as a student employee in the circulation department of YSU’s library, then located in Tod Hall. I walked into an area where students were processing books, spotted Neil and asked who he was. I was told his name was Neil Ciminero and that he had also started the same day.

It took about six months before we actually started dating. A group of students working in the circulation department began partying together, and the friendships formed there eventually resulted in at least three marriages. By the summer of 1970, Neil and I started getting serious, but I had planned to spend a year studying abroad. I considered cancelling my plans, but my dad advised me to go. “I waited six years for your mom,” he said. “He can wait a year.”

I had worked two jobs for two years  and it had been my dream to study abroad, so I went, and wrote him every day. When I returned, we picked up where we left off. We married on Bastille Day, July 14, 1973, then moved to Chicago for graduate school.

Penguin Mates PHOTO @ Ciminero

Sandra and Neil Ciminero today

Twenty-five years later we returned to Ohio. I found a job as the first coordinator of the YSU Summer Festival of the Arts. My first “office” was in Tod Hall where Neil and I first met.

We celebrated 40 years on July 14, 2013, but I spent the day at the YSU Summer Festival of the Arts, coordinating the children’s art tent, so we had to celebrate the next day. Neil is my soul mate, and I would marry him again. We decided to renew for another 40 years.

And one more thing – one of my best memories of courtship while at YSU was that we found every piano on campus and Neil would play Eric Satie and Bach for me. Neil still plays the piano for me.

– Sandra Ciminero


Kenneth Centorame, ’74 AAS and ’77 BSAS in criminal justice, and Susan Colucci Centorame, ’79 AAS in criminal justice, ’95 BS in nursing, were married Aug. 14, 1982. She lives in Canfield, Ohio; he is deceased.

Penguin Mates Kenny & Susan Centorame

Kenny and Susan Centorame on their wedding day

How We Met … Kenny and I met right around the time I was finishing up my degree from YSU in criminal justice in the fall of 1978. He had already completed the same degree three years earlier. I used my degree to apply for a job as the first policewoman to be hired for street patrol by the Youngstown Police Department. After being hired in November 1978, I met Kenny while testifying on a traffic case outside of Judge Haines’ courtroom.

Although he worked traffic patrol and I worked swing shift street patrol, our paths would often cross on the street, especially when a serious call would come in.  Eventually we started to date, but we had to keep it secret because it wouldn’t look good for two police officers to be dating. Things were quite different then.

After three years we married on Aug. 14, 1982, and shortly after we had two children, Katie and Michael (now both YSU grads, 2007 and 2010). Kenny was promoted through the ranks at YPD until he reached captain and chief of detectives.

Kenny was a Penguin football season ticket holder, and he never missed a game. We sat through rain, sleet, hail and snow together after riding the WRTA bus to the games, and he even listened to the YSU games from his hospital bed when they streamed the games live. Kenny passed of leukemia on Oct. 17, 2009. What I wouldn’t give to be on that bus with him one more time, on our way to a Penguin football game.

– Susan Centorame


Jeff Abood, ’85 BSAS in independent curriculum, and Denise Ashcraft Abood, ’84 AAS in nursing, were married in 1982. They live in Silver Lake, Ohio.

Jeff and Denise Abood

Jeff and Denise Abood

How We Met … Denise and I started in the YSU Nursing program at the same time, and we wound up being assigned to the same clinical rotation at the former Cafaro Hospital in Youngstown.

Our first lesson in nursing was the most basic of basics – how to make a bed. Our instructor put the two of us together and had us demonstrate the lesson. So, it was there in Cafaro Hospital in 1981 that we made our first bed together. That was 31 years ago. Six months later, we were married.

We now have two married children. We also have two grandsons, and we are starting to put money away for them. Our hope is that both will one day attend YSU, that they’ll have instructors like the one we had who saw something in us that we didn’t see in ourselves, and that each will meet the person of his dreams!

– Jeff Abood


Thomas Rohanna, ’87 BSBA in transportation management, and Deborah Schwartz Rohanna, ’85 BSEd in secondary mathematics, were married in June, 1986. They live in Waynesburg, Pa.

Penguin Mates ROHANNA

Thomas and Deborah Rohanna

How We Met … Athletics played a big role in our college lives. Tom was on a football scholarship and I was cheering on the basketball and football teams as a YSU cheerleader back in the early ’80s. We met at Kilcawley Center and spent our dating years doing so many of the fun on-campus activities because Tom lived in a dorm. On my graduation day in 1985, Tom proposed to me in the courtyard beside Kilcawley, his backyard. He had saved every week’s allowance his parents sent him to buy a ring.

We were married in June, 1986, before the start of his senior football season. Many of the players and cheerleaders were in our bridal party and his coach, Jim Tressel, was very supportive. Tom went on to be the special teams Player of the Year that year. The following year, I picked him up after his last final and we drove to the hospital for the birth of our first child.

We have been playing the game of life as a team, cheering each other on for over 25 years now. We have three children – the youngest is a sophomore at YSU and following in her father’s footsteps as a student athlete. She walks past the spot where he proposed to me almost everyday. Many things have changed on campus, but the memories all come back when we visit her there.

The education we both received at YSU, combined with our competitive spirits, helped us to create two successful businesses. I own Travel Savers, a travel agency in Waynesburg, Pa.; Tom is employed by Cargill Inc. and owns a trucking brokerage, Bethlehem Farms. YSU also helped each us both to find the perfect teammate for the successful marriage and family we have now.

– Deborah Rohanna


Nick Forro, ’05 BA in marketing, and Erin Carter Forro, ’06 BSEd in special education, were married June 23, 2006 in Fayetteville, Ark. They live in Valhalla, N.Y.

Penguin Mates FORRO wedding photo 1

Nick and Erin Forro

How We Met … Nick and I began our freshman year at YSU in the fall of 2001.  We were both student-athletes – Nick played football and I was a swimmer – and met in our freshman science class as lab partners.  We dated all through college and got engaged in June, 2005, while in California attending a YSU friend’s wedding.

Nick graduated from YSU in December of that year with a degree in marketing and then moved to Phoenix, Ariz., to accept a job with the Phoenix Suns; I graduated in May, 2006, with a degree in special education.  We were married June 23, 2006, in my hometown, Fayetteville, Ark.  A week after we got married I moved to Phoenix and accepted a job as a special education teacher.

The Forro family

The Forro family

In April 2012, Nick accepted a position with the New York Yankees as director of the Sales and Services Department. Today, we live in Valhalla, N.Y. with our three kids – 3-year-old twin boys, Nicholas and Carter, and our 10-month-old daughter, Paige. We have many fond memories of our time at YSU.  It will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

–Erin Forro


Mike Phillips, ’06 BSE, and Michelle Rutushin Phillips, ’05 BSEd, were married Sept. 8, 2007. They live in Austintown, Ohio.

Penguin Mates PHILLIPS photo 2

Mike and Michelle Phillips on their wedding day

How We Met … Mike and I met in 1997 through a distant cousin – he was a junior at Canfield High School and I was entering my freshman year at Austintown Fitch. I’ve always believed that my grandmother was my guardian angel and helped me find my soul mate. She passed away in June of 1997, and it was at her funeral that I reconnected with my cousin. We had been at several of the same family functions during that summer, he insisted that I meet one of his friends – and the rest is history!

Mike graduated in 1999 from Canfield, but didn’t attend college right away. When I graduated high school in 2001, we decided to attend YSU together. We were not only high school sweethearts, but college sweethearts as well! I graduated in December, 2005, with a BS in education, and Mike graduated the following spring with a BS in engineering. I was offered a position at InfoCision Management Corp. just weeks after graduating, and I’m now manager of fundraising and volunteer recruitment development. Mike is an electrical design engineer at Canfield Industries, where he also worked prior to graduation. We got engaged in January, 2007, and were married September 7 of the same year.

Mike and Michelle Phillips

Mike and Michelle Phillips

It’s hard to believe that, although we’ll only be celebrating our six year wedding anniversary, we’ve celebrated 16 years together as a couple! There is no doubt that YSU played a big role in our relationship – it kept us together. We are both extremely proud to have attended two of YSU’s best schools in the nation and we’re hoping our two boys – Mikey, 5, and Cohen, 2 – will follow in our footsteps and attend YSU as well!

– Michelle Phillips


Robert Halicky, ’09 BSAS in exercise science, and Sarah Goodspeed Halicky, ’12 BS in nursing, were married May 10, 2013 in Pine Knoll Shores, N.C. They live in Poland, Ohio.

Robert and Sarah Halicky

Robert and Sarah Halicky

How We Met … Robert and I met at YSU in the fall of 2007. I was a freshman and he was a junior and we were both employed by YSU’s Department of Campus Recreation and Student Programming. We exchanged phone numbers shortly after meeting at work, and within months we were dating. We were engaged March 11, 2011 and married May 10, 2013 in Pine Knoll Shores, N.C.

Having grown up two hours apart, we probably would never have met if it weren’t for college. YSU played a large part in our lives; we found love in each other and met lifelong friends who stood beside us on our wedding day.

We currently reside in Poland, Ohio, and are both employed by Trumbull Memorial Hospital in Warren, Ohio.  Robert is an exercise physiologist in cardiac rehabilitation and I work as a registered nurse in critical care services.

– Sarah Halicky

The Halicky wedding party

The Halicky wedding party


Patrick Wilkens, ‘12 BS in criminal justice, and Kirstin Walker Wilkens, ’12 BS in exercise science, were married July 18, 2013, at Wedderburn Castle in Scotland, Kirstin’s home country. They live in Canfield.

How we met … Patrick Wilkens and Kirstin Walker Wilkens were married July 18 at Wedderburn Castle in Scotland, Kirstin’s home country. They had a traditional Scottish wedding, complete with kilts, bagpipes and Ceilidh dancing.

Kirstin was born and raised in Scotland and came to YSU in 2008 on a full scholarship for swimming. She swam for YSU from 2008-12 and still holds a couple of the YSU swimming records. Patrick was born in Chicago, spent his first year of college studying at ECU, and then transferred to YSU when his family moved to Canfield.

Patrick was a member of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity, and the couple met at YSU in 2009 at a fraternity party. They dated for three years, and then Patrick proposed to Kirstin in Mexico in August, 2012, on a family vacation.

Kirstin graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a minor in marketing, and she is employed as a sales manager for Macy’s. Patrick graduated earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and completed YSU’s Police Academy. He is police officer for the Mill Creek MetroParks Police Department.

YSU brought this couple together and they will be happily married Penguins for life!

– Kirstin Wilkins

Kirstin and Patrick Wilkins

Kirstin and Patrick Wilkins

Tagged with