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For Valentine’s Day: Finding LOVE @ MERCY

Mercy College Valentine's Day

Masele Kibassa ’96, M.A. ’98, M.B.A. ’05 and Janet Kibassa ’00, M.S. ’15, found one another in the dorm.  To be more exact:  she was lost, and he helped her find her way.

Janet came to Mercy College on a volleyball scholarship in 1997 and arrived before the semester began to work as as resident advisor setting up rooms in the old dorm, which is now Founders Hall.  Janet got to her room but was confused about how to retrace her steps out.  Along came Masele – an RA and fellow athlete.  She turned to him for directions.

“He laughed at me, but he probably knew from that first day we were going to be friends and later married,” said Janet.

“Absolutely I knew,” said Masele laughing.

From then on, the friendship grew steadily with Janet getting surprise candies from Masele whenever she was on duty.  Masele says he always came to Janet’s volleyball games, even driving a car load of friends all the way to Grand Rapids, Michigan to watch the Mercy team COMPETE. During Janet’s time at Mercy College, the women’s volleyball team was 8TH in the nation in NCAA Division II athletics.

“We’re a forever couple, since 1997. We dated for a long time until I had no more excuses left and we got married,” said Masele laughing.  He added one more detail to the story of how they first got together:

“I was a tutor in Math.  She needed help.  I think I’ll just leave it at that.  Thank god for Mathematics!”




Denise Poulin ’85 and James Poulin ’02, M.S. ’05 didn’t just meet at Mercy College, Mercy is at the heart of their enduring relationship. 

An alumna who returned to Mercy to work at the White Plains campus, Denise met James when he was a student there.  James was active in student government and a student-worker – all of which brought him into Denise’s orbit at the college.  They worked together, planning activities and events, and were becoming closer all the time.

“We’re probably that rare couple that likes to be together all the time,” said James.

In early February 1987, James asked Denise to marry him. Originally planning to propose on Valentine’s day, James abandoned that plan after realizing Denise’s parents’ anniversary was the fifteenth. Rather than waiting until after, he decided to propose early.

In June 1990, they were married in the Dobbs Ferry campus chapel – now known as the Rotunda.     

“It was nice because we were able to involve our students, our students were invited to participate,” said Denise of holding the ceremony on campus. The reception was held outside and photos were taken on the grassy knoll that is now Hudson Hall. Dr. Ann Grow, a mentor to both Denise and James, and Dr. Frances Mahoney gave the benediction at the reception.

So, what has kept Denise and James at the college for so long?

“Mercy has that wonderful capability of capturing you and helping you to become the person you should be. In the beginning, I was going to come for one semester, but I started to develop skills and be comfortable with myself. They afforded me such opportunities to become involved,” said Denise.

“I grew up here,” said James. “Years later there’s a group of 15-16 of us from all over who have a reunion every four or five years. Mercy didn’t just become a school — it became part of us, and the two of us share that,” said James.