During his past two-plus decades as a college professor, Texas A&M University chemist Simon North has gotten his fair share of requests from students, ranging from help understanding a particular concept, for a curve on a recent test, advice on graduate schools and letters of recommendation.
Last spring he fielded his most unique request to date when two former students in his freshman chemistry course, Texas A&M senior chemistry majors Julia Santell ’19 and Josiah Day ’19, asked him to officiate at Aug. 17 wedding.
“One of the benefits of an academic life is getting to know interesting young people and to watch them develop and grow and set out to make the world a better place,” said North, head of the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry since 2016. “The Class of 2019 is probably the most memorable class in my 22 years at Texas A&M”.
The event featured multiple Texas A&M chemistry majors and several of Josiah’s Corps of Cadets buddies in the wedding party, along with additional faculty members as honored guests. For his part beyond the traditional something new, old, borrowed and blue, North contributed the Texas-certified officiant status he earned online, as well as a powerful human touch.
North wrote his wedding-day remarks in a leather notebook gifted to him by the mother of another of his former students, 2004 Texas A&M chemistry graduate Dr. Matthew Rowan, who died in August 2016 along with his wife, Sunday Stewart Rowan, in a hot air balloon accident near Lockhart, Texas.
Fittingly, North gifted the notebook to the Days as a compelling keepsake and testament to enduring relationships — that of husbands and wives, as well as that of student and teacher.
“A marriage ceremony is a wonderful, joyous event — a chance to celebrate publicly a lifetime commitment of two fantastic people. I have known Julia and Josiah since they were freshmen in my chemistry class in the fall of 2015. It is interesting that the first email I received from Julia asked about hypergolic propellants. For the non-chemists, these consist of two components which spontaneously ignite when they come into contact with each other. As a couple, Julia and Josiah are both inquisitive, interested and present. They are both kind, polite and respectful. They have both surrounded themselves with kind, supportive and loving friends. And they have excellent chemistry.”
Julia and Joshia graduated from Texas A&M last May. To read more about their story, visit the College of Science website.