It’s a love story, and she said yes — thanks to the UCLA BruinBus.
The year was 2011. Neil Sepulveda and Andrea Magbanua were third-year students living south of Wilshire and taking the BruinBus. As Neil tells it, on lucky days of the week, his Tuesday-Thursday class, another passenger, Andrea, was also usually riding. He just hadn't worked up the courage to talk to her.
One particularly crowded day on the bus, after hopping on at the Molecular Science Building and traveling along Charles E. Young Drive, Andrea boarded at Stein Plaza.
“Here’s my chance, I have a seat, she doesn’t, it’s the perfect time to break the ice,” recounted Neil.
Ever the gentlemen (evidence chivalry is not dead in higher ed), he offered Andrea his seat. Unfortunately, Neil’s nerves got the best of him. He bailed, taking off head down to the back of the bus.
Weeks later, back on the bus in conversation with a friend, Andrea again boarded, and Neil’s friend started speaking to her!
“You know this girl,” Neil said, realizing now was his chance. The introductions began, and as they both tell it, was reminiscent of a UCLA orientation: sharing where you are from, what you are studying, that kind of thing.
They talked the entire way till they had to go in separate directions.
She was a neuroscience major, he was studying aerospace engineering, and it was a match made in public transportation heaven.
Their first date was an afternoon in Westwood Village. Fat Sal’s had recently opened, and they went for a bite after Andrea said she was hungry. Many other dates in the Village followed.
There were also picnics near the UCLA Anderson School, where Andrea had a work-study job, with the famous UCLA squirrels joining them. The first kiss happened in the Sculpture Garden.
Neil loves Andrea’s adventurous spirit, and she says Neil is really passionate and gives his 100% to everything.
She graduated in 2012, with Neil staying an extra year, graduating in 2013. Andrea pursued optometry studies in Boston while Neil got his professional electrical engineering license. They did long distance for four years and made it work. Neil visited Andrea sometimes every month, or they rendezvoused at another location.
Andrea eventually returned to L.A. and together they settled in Carson.
This past February Neil pulled off a surprise proposal at the Taiwan Lantern Festival. From the first time he saw Andrea at the BruinBus stop, he noticed her Rapunzel-like long hair. In the Disney animated film featuring Rapunzel, Tangled, a lantern festival plays a pivotal role, hence the significance of choosing this occasion to get down on one knee. Other festival attendees took notice, including a camera crew, who interviewed the newly engaged Bruins for a segment that appeared on Taiwanese national TV (clip starts at :38).
Next stop: their wedding in Toronto happening Summer 2024. The couple loves to travel and picked an international location that won't be too far away for their guests.
The moral of this meet cute? Happily ever after could be right around the corner if you ride the BruinBus.