Sweethearts return to campus every year to remember their story

Karolina and William Finglesthaler celebrate the anniversary every year by returning to where they met on the USF Tampa campus. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/KAROLINA FIGLESTHALER

On Tuesday, March 20, current students moped around campus, still not fully recovered from spring break and not ready to be back. However, alumni Karolina and William Figlesthaler strolled through campus with warm smiles and full hearts. 

Since the two began their relationship on March 20, 2008, they make their way back to the Tampa campus to reminisce on where it all began. 

“Everything for us has always come right back to the main campus in Tampa,” Karolina said. 

In January of 2008, Karolina took her seat in Dr. Scott Besley’s Money and Banking class. A couple seats over, William decided he wanted to sit a couple seats closer. 

“I sat down, was doing my problems and he was a few seats over, he kind of did a double take,” Karolina said. “He picked up his stuff, sat down next to me and then started asking me about my calculator.” 

William was fresh out of the Marine Corps at the time, just beginning his first semester at USF, where as Karolina was wrapping up her academic career. Both were majoring in finance. 

“He and I just started talking and we giggled the whole class,” Karolina said. “I mean, it was like instant chemistry. He walked me out to my car to be a gentleman ﹘ that’s just still how he is. He opened my door and he asked for my number.”

Karolina wasn’t keen on the idea of giving her number to a stranger no matter giggly he made her, so she gave William her school email. 

“(It) sounds so cheesy, but he emailed me right away,” Karolina said. “He didn’t wait. He didn’t play games. He emailed me from his phone right away.” 

After spring break and after the pair had been seeing each other every week in class, they had their first date. 

“We had class Thursday nights,” Karolina said. “So we went to Busch Gardens and we had a blast. We drank all day, but we came back to class at 6 p.m., wet from all the rides, drunk and we were just such a disruption to the class that we were asked to leave. So, we went back to Busch Gardens and fell asleep in the park.” 

After falling asleep in the gazebo and waiting for an employee to finally release them, their first date came came to a close after a solid 24 hours. 

“Finally after, I don’t know, several hours ﹘ it was a 24 hour date ﹘ we got out of Busch Gardens,” Karolina said. “Since then, our lives have been equally that crazy.”

Two years to the day of the Busch Gardens’ never-ending tale, the two were married at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Tampa. 

“We kind of kept everything Tampa-based,” Karolina said about their anniversary tradition to return to campus unfolded. 

At the time, William was living at home in Sarasota. Karolina also lived at home in Trinity. Tampa would be the meeting ground to spend time together. 

“We would meet in Tampa for class and then we would sit in the car after class and just hang out ‘till I don’t know, all hours of the morning,” Karolina said. “We would spend the night in the car, watching movies because we had nowhere to go together to be together.”

Week after week and class after class, the Tampa campus became their favorite place to be together. Now, year after year, Karolina and William go back to the start.

“Every year we take photos on our anniversary,” Karolina said. “We go back to where it all started, our roots. It’s just kind of always been such a memorable place for us.”