When Mike Champa ’05 and Katie Freking Champa ’05 stood at the front of their wedding reception in October 2010, they wanted to make sure their guests understood why they had made the trek to Oxford, Ohio.
“I know it was a long way for many of you to travel, but this place is special,” Mike said. “It’s where we met, where we fell in love, where we got engaged, and, today, it’s where we start the rest of our lives together.”
The newlyweds, who were flanked by a bridal party that included nine fellow Miamians, went a step further in that sentiment by including a note on the bottom of their wedding reception program: “In lieu of favors, we have elected to make a donation to Miami University in hopes that we can help others have the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful place that brought us together.”
“We wanted to do a donation of some sort,” Katie said. “After we thought about it, we decided that Miami had given us so much in our time there that we wanted to give something back.”
When the couple learned about the Armstrong Student Center, they thought it was fitting and appropriate to support an effort that will bring together generations of future Miamians.
“We didn’t spend a lot of time in Shriver Center, and the idea of a student center being the focal point of campus was appealing,” Mike said. “We wanted to contribute toward that goal.”
Mike and Katie reside in Chicago today, where Mike works as a manager for Huron Consulting Group and Katie is an accountant for Jump Trading. Mike is a former Homecoming King and a member of Kappa Alpha Order. Katie, whose older sister (Beth Freking Donegan ’03) and younger brother (Mark Freking ’10) also attended Miami, was involved in the Miami University Student Foundation (MUSF) and a member of Delta Gamma sorority. Both studied abroad during college—Mike in Latin America and Katie in Europe—which instilled a love for international travel in both.
The couple met during their junior year through Mike’s roommate, and their first date was to the CJ’s Bar employee holiday party, where Mike worked. While Mike admits it wasn’t the most romantic of first dates, they continued dating through graduation and endured another three years of long-distance dating. In fall 2009, Mike brought their story full circle by asking Katie to marry him in Miami’s Formal Gardens.
While the two agree that the most important thing they took away from their time at Miami was each other, there are countless friendships and memories they cherish.
“The people I met at Miami are what stand out about the experience,” Katie said. “I made some of my best girlfriends at Emerson Hall my freshman year, and we’re still close. When I go to Miami alumni events or run into another alum, it’s nice how there’s just an unspoken bond because you shared that experience.”
To learn more about supporting the Armstrong Student Center, contact Susie Brower Sadler '84, Senior Director of Development, at 513-529-9217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.