Chemical attraction

Ted Burgess and Brandie Lindo met in NIU laboratory, got engaged near ‘kissing bench’and returned to campus for engagement photos

Ted Burgess and Brandie Lindo

Ted Burgess and Brandie Lindo.
All images courtesy of Chrissy Deming Photography.

Ted Burgess and Brandie Lindo like to say they have “good chemistry” together – and for good reason.

In January 2008, Burgess and Lindo first met at NIU in an organic chemistry laboratory class. Even beyond the lab experiments, strong attractive forces were apparently at work. This past spring semester, the couple returned to the lab in Room 307 of Faraday Hall – this time to pose for their engagement pictures.

“We have all sorts of requests, but I’ve never had one like this,” says Andy Small, lab manager for the NIU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

“Once they explained their story about how NIU played such an important role in their lives, it was easy to say yes to their request for photos,” Small says, adding that his department gave the couple “beaker mugs” as an engagement present.

The story of the pair’s campus romance isn’t likely too far removed from that of countless other couples who met during their NIU days.

Fate, of course, always plays a big role.

An NIU track athlete, Lindo had transferred into the chemistry course at the last minute because it was a better fit for her busy practice schedule. Burgess felt a spark when he first saw her walk in late for class, still decked out in her practice gear. She plopped down with her backpack in the only seat that was available – at Burgess’s table.

He isn’t one who lacks for words.

“I made some kind of comment about her bright blue eyes,” Burgess says, noting that he and Lindo made easy and friendly conversation from the start. “I knew she was someone special.”

Ted Burgess and Brandie Lindo

Says Lindo, “When I walked into the classroom, I remember thinking, ‘I want him to like me.’ That was unusual for me, because I was really focused on my studies and sports.

“But I liked the fact that he’s very tall, and I’m kind of a sucker for brown eyes,” she adds. “I realized the first week he was intelligent, which is a big selling point for me.”

The couple’s romance blossomed over the course of the semester. But with Lindo’s jam-packed schedule – she was also in a dance group – there wasn’t time for dating. So the couple instead took walks around the East Lagoon and enjoyed the wintry weather while strolling through scenic areas near the science buildings on campus.

After class one day, with big snowflakes falling, they shared their first kiss by the “kissing bench” of NIU lore. Legend has it that every time someone is kissed at the bench, located near Davis Hall, the old and twisted branches of the Scotch pine tree there bends more into the shape of a heart.

Both Burgess, a native of Sycamore, and Lindo, a native of a small-town Biggsville, went on to earn their undergraduate degrees at NIU in biological sciences. While he is now working on his doctorate at NIU, she is teaching chemistry and biology at Larkin High School in Elgin.

Ted Burgess and Brandie LindoAfter a four-year courtship, Burgess popped the question last August as the two reminisced while walking on campus after dinner one evening.

With a vintage ring in his pocket – it was her grandmother’s ring containing his grandmother’s diamond stone – he planned to propose at the kissing bench. But with workers there on a construction project, Burgess settled for the nearby fountain gardens on the east side of Davis Hall.

“Brandie and I are both sentimental,” Burgess says. “So when we got engaged, we decided we would come back to campus to have pictures taken when there was snow on the ground and in the laboratory where we first met.”

By the way, Burgess and Lindo aren’t the first in his family to feel sentimental over their alma mater. Burgess’s parents are both NIU alumni. And his sister, Rebecca, met her husband, Justin Haag, on campus.

“NIU just means so much to us – and to our family,” Lindo says.

The couple will be married Aug. 3.

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