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RCBC student pops the question on campus. She says…?

James Keenan and Ilona Litvinas

You may not associate linear algebra with romance, but for RCBC students James Keenan and Ilona Litvinas it sparked something that has now come full circle.

“She was sitting outside and caught my eye,” James said about their mutual class in 2016. “So I asked her for help with my math homework and we went out to lunch.”

James and Ilona, of Northeast Philadelphia, are RCBC students graduating this spring. James is majoring in business and accounting and Ilona is majoring in computer science and math. Ilona plans to transfer and then will decide if she wants to go for her PHD in math or go right into a career. James, currently working in real estate, was an engineer before he started at RCBC.  He has been putting his skills to use by inventing a ski and snowboard holder to make it easier for people to carry around their equipment. When his inventions are finished, he wants to start a business to sell them.

On March 15, James planned a surprise proposal for Ilona in the math classroom where they met. James set everything up in the afternoon and planned to take Ilona to the classroom after dinner. When a friend checked on the setup ahead of time, he found the decorations were gone. James panicked and had Ilona’s sister call her to distract her while RCBC’s public safety helped him set everything back up. In the end, the proposal continued and she said yes!

"I had a feeling something was going on but I wasn't sure exactly what,” Ilona said. “It felt like a normal dinner until I started getting random calls from people distracting me so Jamy could redecorate the room."

Ilona speaks Ukrainian, Russia and English and came over from Ukraine in 2012. “I was unsure if I wanted to stay, but fell in love with so many things here,” Ilona said. She is also a movie enthusiast.

James knows how to fly single propeller airplanes and would love to get a skydiving license one day. “I have an extremely overactive imagination, which helps me with my inventions, and how I wanted to propose to Ilona,” said James.

James and Ilona's story is part of RCBC’s 50 stories for 50 years. In honor of the college’s 50th anniversary, RCBC is profiling students, faculty, administrators, alumni and the college community. Anyone interested in being featured can contact rcbcnews@rcbc.edu. To follow along on social media, use #RCBC50Stories.