Jesse Fraga/Assistant News Director
Last week, FIU alum Timothy Tejera proposed to his partner in the most Panther way possible, at the Steven and Dorothea Green Library.
With shaky hands and tears streaming down fiancé Lillie Garcia’s face, she said yes.
After the two were set up through a mutual friend, they met as students for the first time at the library in 2018.
What was expected to be a casual study date turned into hours of chatting until the sun went down.
The lovers said they didn’t want the night to end so they drove across the street for dinner at Pho 79. Then, they came back to campus to walk around and take up the romantic Panther tradition, sharing their first kiss on the Kissing Bridge.
Ever since the Modesto A. Maidique campus opened in 1972, the heart-shaped pond and bridge in the middle of campus has been a common hangout spot for FIU couples, including Tejera and Garcia.
According to the FIU Alumni Association, “It is said that any couple who kisses on the bridge… will be together for life.”
Since then, the couple says they’ve always talked about spending their lives together.
“There’s a mutual understanding that this is it” said Tejera. “This is what we want and there’s no other human being I’d rather be with.”
Now, one and a half years later, they are engaged.
The couple has made it an annual tradition to have a date night on Sept. 21. So, Tejera told Garcia that they’d be going out for Japanese food last Monday night.
“It didn’t strike me as odd that he wanted to go out,“ said Garcia.
On the way to the Japanese restaurant, Tejera received a phone call from a friend saying he needed to return a book to the library, as it was past due.
“That’s a pet peeve of mine, which is why I think it worked, when people take my books longer than I intended them to.” Garcia said.
As a result, they stopped at the library before going out for dinner, which was all a part of Tejera’s secret plan.
As they walked up the library stairs after hours, Tejera told a security guard, “I am Timothy Tejera,” and they let the couple through. He coordinated the event with FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg.
At this point, Garcia said, “[It was] still completely over my head, like wow, I could be robbing the place.”
As the lovers walked through the second floor, Tejera’s favorite song, September, by Earth, Wind and Fire, played in the background.
As the engagement occurred Monday, Sept. 21, “Now we’ll never forget the 21st night of September,” Tejera said, referencing the song’s opening lyrics.
Once Garcia saw fairy lights and a classy, decorated dinner table where they had first met over a year ago, she said that she knew exactly what was about to happen.
“My idea was like I wanted to start something new by starting it where we began,” Tejera told PantherNOW.
Since the proposal, the couple has already started organizing their marriage for next December.
“It means a lot for me to get married in a church, and it’ll be at my parents church,” said Garcia. “[Tejera] knows all the plans, it’s just not all set in stone yet.”
Tejera emphasized that he’s known one thing since the night they first met.
“There’s a theory of absolutes,” he said. “Same thing in comic books, like no matter what reality or dimension… there’s certain things that will always be true.”
Their dynamic reflects those of DC and Marvel comic book characters who always fell in love, including Clark Kent and Lois Lane; Peter Parker and Mary Jane; and Barry Allen and Iris West.
Tejera added, “In this life, Tim always falls in love with Lillie.”