Flyers promising forever
UD is known for bringing students together, and two alumni found more than they ever expected when signing on to a new UD program.
Tre Whittaker ’21 and Yasmine Espino ’22 are both members of the first cohort of the Flyer Promise program. The two became fast friends over their four years in the program and soon realized it was more than friendship — they fell in love.
The couple is set to be married in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception on campus in October.
Though relatively new to the University, Flyer Promise has already made a huge impact on hundreds of students, including Whittaker and Espino. The program aids select high school graduates by offering them scholarships and other financial aid so that they have the opportunity to attend UD despite the financial restrictions they would otherwise face.
Donnell Wiggins, assistant vice president for strategic enrollment management and one of the chief architects of Flyer Promise, has been with the program since the beginning. He considers Flyer Promise to be one of his greatest professional accomplishments.
“Flyer Promise helps students to realize their purpose and vocation, they are able to explore and experience that in a way that is meaningful,” Wiggins said. “You see students come out of their shells, become more involved and lead organizations.”
While in the program at UD, students are connected with peers of similar backgrounds. The support that Flyer Promise provides is invaluable, said Whittaker; the students support each other during hard times and provide encouragement to one another.
“For me, Flyer Promise was my family away from home,” Whittaker said.
As one of seven children, Whittaker didn’t know if college would be in the cards for him. He came to UD from Hamilton, Ohio, and wanted to be the first in his family to graduate college. Flyer Promise introduced him to people that had college educations, and as a first-generation college student, that was something he needed.
“I didn’t have people like that in my life,” he said.
Espino grew up in Dayton, in a Spanish-speaking household. Known for being a high achiever with a hard-working attitude, Espino was a fit candidate for Flyer Promise.
Espino and Whittaker both took on leadership roles during their four years at UD where they spoke with donors, trustees and friends about the value of Flyer Promise.
For the couple, the program did more than encourage them academically, it brought the two of them together. After four years of friendship, eight months of dating and one-and-a-half years of engagement, they plan to marry Oct. 21.
They met during their first year at UD and became very close friends through the program. Although they were only ever friends during their time at UD, everyone around them could tell there was something more between the two. The couple even got matching Flyer Promise tattoos “as friends,” which will now forever remind them of how they met.
Whittaker and Espino were given the opportunity to grow as friends on campus. They saw each other go through hard times and even other relationships.
“At the end of those relationships, Tre was always the person I went to talk to,” Espino said.
After graduation they both stayed in touch and went to visit each other often. During one of those visits, they finally came to a life-changing realization: they were meant to be more than friends.
“We realized that we were each other’s forever person,” Whittaker said.
When Whittaker proposed, he took Espino on a scavenger hunt throughout campus. The hunt ended at the Chapel where he got down on one knee and popped the question.
“We realized that we were each other’s forever person.”
The two are now living together in Orlando, Florida, with their dog Rudy the Flyer. Tre works as an assistant manager at Bioplasma Services, and Yasmine is an industrial engineer at the NautiqueBoat Company. They will be traveling back to UD soon for their on-campus wedding.
Continuing the legacy, Yasmine’s younger sister, Emily, is a first-year at UD this fall and is a member of the seventh Flyer Promise cohort.
Maybe Emily will end up meeting her forever Flyer, too.