News

Pandemic Proposal Makes News at PBS

Two months into quarantine, Director of Residence Life Alyssa Caffarelli ’13 had something that seemed hard to come by in 2020: good news.

She and Sean Murphy, who had been dating since 2018, had gotten engaged in their apartment in Richter-North. To some, a proposal during a pandemic seemed newsworthy. Bethlehem’s PBS affiliate agreed.

Caffarelli says that how their engagement wound up on the evening news is a series of events that includes “a lot of small-world stories and full-circle moments.” It was Patty Konstanzer—mom to Lydia (class of 2020) and DJ (class of 2013)—who, during a visit to campus shortly after the engagement, suggested that Caffarelli pitch the proposal to news outlets because there seemed to be many quarantine weddings on TV, but no quarantine engagements.

Caffarelli got to work.

She shared the idea with Dolly Singley, director of disability services. The two had worked together previously in Bethlehem before their career paths led them both to Ursinus. “Dolly made it her mission to get us on the news and began writing emails too,” says Caffarelli, who was so moved by one of them that she shared it on Instagram.

The post was spotted by a friend who works for PBS in Bethlehem and asked if she could pitch it to her team. Within an hour, a reporter was calling Collegeville.

The PBS story features an interview with the couple as well as clips from the proposal, which took place during a Zoom call with family members.

Caffarelli, who graduated with a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in dance, admits that the proposal wasn’t a complete surprise. She credits the investigative skills required for her job with tipping her off to the arrival of the ring, which Murphy had ordered online. “At that point, there really was no surprising me, but it was still perfect.”