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Published on October 15, 2021

Matches Made at Eastern

Read about the origin stories of alumni couples Robert '69 and Antoinette '70 Brzozowski, Paul and Gloria (Petrucelli) Drouin ‘71, and Garrett and Kristina (Riccio) Dukette ’07.


Eastern was known as Willimantic State College in 1966. Antoinette (Toni) Alves was a first-year student from Windsor, CT, and on the cheerleading squad. Bob Brzozowski was a second-year student from New Britain, CT, playing on the winning soccer team. The day of the tournament championship, their paths crossed for the first time. Cheerleader Toni was headed upstairs to her locker before catching the bus to the tournament at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Bob was headed downstairs to the bus. Toni said, “Hi, Bob,” and so it began. The team lost the championship in double overtime, but Bob and Toni had just started! They married in August 1968.

Both Brzozowskis were back at Eastern that fall. Bob finished his credits and graduated in 1969 with a B.S. in Mathematics before being drafted into the Army. Toni continued her studies and graduated in 1970 with a B.S. in Elementary Education. While Bob fulfilled his military service at Fort Hood, TX, Toni began her teaching career with third graders in Killeen, TX.

In 1971, with service complete and expecting their first child, the Brzozowskis returned to Connecticut where Windsor became home. Bob taught mathematics at Windsor High School while taking computer science classes at Rensselaer. He earned his master’s degree in 1982 and left teaching to join the world of information technology. In 2007, the Brzozowskis established their own company, Birch Consulting Inc. 

Meanwhile, they were blessed with a daughter, Genevieve, and a son, Robert. Toni juggled parenthood and professional life, teaching first and second grade in Windsor Public Schools for 17 years. She also earned her master’s degree in Reading at Central Connecticut State University, eventually earning her sixth-year degree at Central and becoming a language arts consultant in Windsor. Toni also worked at Central as an adjunct professor in the reading department.

In 1998, Toni became the language arts consultant for Region 13 Durham and Middlefield. After years of satisfying work in their fields, Toni and Bob have retired. It is a blessing for them to be able to have special time together for relaxing, family and travel. Who knew that the serendipitous “Hi, Bob” meeting would result in 53 years of happily married family life? It started in Willimantic at Eastern!


Paul Drouin graduated from Windham High School in Willimantic in 1967. That September, he met Gloria Petruccelli, a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School in Middletown, CT, on the first day of orientation at the newly named Eastern Connecticut State College. Paul and Gloria were in the same group touring campus. As a Willimantic native, Paul was able to answer many of the questions being asked by first-year students — even before the student tour guides chimed in. Gloria thought he was an upperclassman until they started classes together. Love began to bloom!

Paul and Gloria dated through their junior year and were married during their senior year on Nov. 21, 1970, living in nearby Columbia until graduation. Paul played basketball at Eastern for two years under Coach Clyde Washburne and worked as an orderly at Windham Hospital throughout college. Gloria worked two summers for Registrar Francis Geissler, who was “a great person and a good friend.”

After graduation, Paul enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL. Gloria started teaching elementary school in 1972 and retired in 2004. Paul went on to earn a second bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree at the University of South Florida. He taught elementary school as a physical education teacher, also retiring in 2004. They have lived in St. Petersburg, FL, for the past 50 years.

Gloria and Paul have two sons, Scott and Shawn, and three beautiful grandchildren — Daniel, Emilia and Magnolia. Paul continues to volunteer for the Boy Scouts, something he has done for more than 56 years. Gloria enjoys playing with, reading to and teaching her grandchildren. Love started for Gloria and Paul at Eastern and continues today after nearly 51 years of marriage. “Thank you, Eastern!”


Garrett and Kristina met at Hurley Hall in August 2004 when they both arrived for student orientation counselor (SOC) training. They struck up an immediate friendship when Garrett said, “You don’t look that weird; can I sit here?” After spending most of the fall orientation hanging out, the school year began and they went their separate ways.

That December, Kristina ran into Garrett outside of Webb Hall after class one day and asked him to be her date to an office Christmas party. He accepted and the two went on a few dates over the rest of the school year, but it was not until fall 2005 SOC training that the two realized they were meant to be more than just friends.

Over the course of their junior and senior years, Kristina and Garrett were inseparable, working together in Burnap Hall, taking education courses together, and even traveling to different baseball parks around the country, including Wrigley Field in Chicago and Camden Yards in Baltimore. Although Kristina didn’t know it at the time, a few months into their relationship Garrett returned home for a weekend and told his mother, “I think she is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

After graduating in 2007 with majors in English and Education, Garrett and Kristina went on to teach English at the middle school and high school levels. In 2009 they married, surrounded by family and friends from Eastern, including Kim Silcox (who ran the SOC program the year Garrett and Kristina met), Stephen Russell (usher), Pat Bushnell (usher), Carrie (Fleischer) Bushnell, Megan (Izbicki) Koniecko, Laura Trostel and others.

In summer 2010 Garrett and Kristina bought their home in Columbia, CT, a stone’s throw away from Eastern. Shortly after moving in, they brought home Tessie, a beautiful golden retriever. They welcomed their first son, Philip, in 2013, and their second son, Nicholas, in 2016.

Having recently celebrated 11 years of marriage, Kristina and Garrett still have fond memories of Eastern and all the friendships they made while on campus. Kristina now teaches seventh-grade language arts in Vernon, CT, and Garrett is in his second year as a middle school principal in Canterbury, CT.