FHSU theater class helps couple script a romance
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
Isaac and Heather Palacios weren't able to get to all the places they wanted to visit on the Fort Hays State University campus earlier this month.
So the couple made the best of it, just like they did back in 2005.
Isaac and Heather, both graduates of FHSU, were in Hays touring their alma mater before heading off for a four-year stint in Arizona, where Isaac will work on his medical residency in podiatry.
They met the spring semester of their sophomore year, in a class that neither might have taken if it had not been required for their particular majors.
"I was all science and chemistry and wasn't real excited about theater," said Isaac, a chemistry major.
But was he ever surprised when he walked into the theater class the first day.
"Heather was sitting all by herself, and she had her high school jacket on," he said. "Here we were in college and there's this girl so proud of her high school that she was still wearing her (high school) jacket. I thought that was really sweet."
Isaac took a seat beside Heather, introduced himself and struck up a conversation.
Heather, a communication major, was dating someone else at the time, but he had transferred to another college, and they eventually grew apart.
All the while, Isaac's and Heather's friendship continued to grow in Hays.
"The (theater) class allowed us to partner up for some things, and I would always ask Heather (to be my partner)," Isaac said of reading scripts and other class projects.
That summer, they started dating, a courtship that lasted all through college, and they were married about six weeks after their graduation in 2007.
The couple moved to Arizona, where Isaac began working on his doctorate at Midwestern University's Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine in Glendale. After he graduated in June, they were home for several weeks visiting family in Hutchinson (Isaac's) and Salina (Heather's) before getting back on the road again.
The couple is leaving Kansas today for Arizona, where Isaac will work on a Navajo Indian Reservation in Tuba City.
Before leaving their home state again, Isaac and Heather made a trip to Hays to celebrate their five-year wedding anniversary, which was June 30. They happened to arrive in Hays on July 12 on another special occasion -- Isaac's 30th birthday.
"We knew we wouldn't make it back for quite a while, so we decided to come to Hays before we left this time," said Heather, who said the couple had not been back to Hays since their graduation.
They were disappointed when they learned FHSU was on a four-day summer schedule and most buildings were closed on Fridays.
But they were able to get into the building they both hold near and dear to their hearts -- Malloy Hall, the site of that theater class seven years ago.
The doors to Malloy were open for staff of the High Plains Music Camp, which was preparing for the 300-some youngsters that attended the camp on campus the week of July 15 to 21.
Ivalah Allen, director of the camp, met Isaac and Heather as they came in the door.
After listening to the couple's story, Allen, a professor of vocal music at FHSU, went looking for light switches in Felten-Start Theater so they could take a picture.
"One of our favorite places," Heather said of Malloy, "that and the union," where Isaac worked as a student manager.
Another favorite of Isaac's and Heather's was getting a snoball from Cerv's Convenience Store.
So did they have a snoball when they were back in town?
"Of course," she said, "I had one Thursday evening, and then we got one on the way out of town."