Lake Fred


The Snapshots section of Stockton Now typically showcases scenes from recent University events, but the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted most events to a virtual space. For this issue, we are using this space to share a Lake Fred Romance photo story. Learn more about Stockton Sweethearts Chelsea Walker '17 and Michael Vinci '17.

Chelsea Walker '17, a health science graduate with a minor in behavioral neuroscience, met her fiance Michael Vinci '17, a business grad with

Chelsea Walker '17 and Michael Vinci '17.

a concentration in finance, at a mutual friend's house off campus. "We met during my second semester of junior year," Vinci said. "It wasn't love at first sight, but it didn't take long."

Chelsea Walker '17 and Michael Vinci '17.

Walker, of Marlton, chose Stockton partly for its location. "I chose Stockton because I loved the idea of being at a smaller school that was still fairly close to home. When I toured Stockton for the first time, I knew it felt like home for me," she said.

Vinci, of Washington Township, had similar reasons. "Stockton was a school that was still close enough to home that I could see my family and had a great campus," he said.

Their time at Stockton, although the basis for their love story, was all about education. Walker, a fourth-grade teacher, credits Stockton's preparation for her current success.

"My education and experience at Stockton taught me to look at life from a different perspective. I changed career paths after graduating, and I am so thankful for my decision. I don't think I would be the fourth-grade teacher that I am today without having built the connections with my professors at Stockton that I had," she said. "I take a look back at how dedicated some of my professors were to their students' educations, and I apply those strategies every day in my classroom... and now online through remote learning."

"My professors taught me how to excel in a professional environment and by teaching me information in a way I can relate to my current job," Vinci said. "My favorite course at Stockton was my financial planning course taught by [Charles] Weeks [assistant professor of Business Studies, Finance]. I loved Professor Weeks' classes because he related everything to real world scenarios."

Chelsea Walker '17 and Michael Vinci '17.

"Hands down, Christine Gayda-Chelder [assistant professor of Psychology] is the greatest professor I had the pleasure of learning from at Stockton," Walker said. "She is an incredible professor, mentor and person. My only regret is not being able to take more of her courses. Two just was not enough!"

Lake Fred was the backdrop for their love story, and Vinci used the campus feature during his proposal. As Walker recalls:

Chelsea Walker '17 and Michael Vinci '17.

"We had planned on celebrating our four-year anniversary with a picnic at Lake Fred. It was a rainy and cold day, but since we couldn’t really go anywhere else (thanks, COVID) we figured we would stick to our plan and make the best of it. After our dinner under a gazebo by the lake, we decided to take advantage of a break in the rain and go for a walk around Lake Fred. I thought it was so nice getting to reminisce on where our relationship began, but little did I know, he was about to make this night a whole lot more special. As we came full circle around the lake we came back to “the bench” where we had our first kiss, right on the edge of the lake. I turned around to lay a blanket down on the wet bench, and when I turned back around, there he was, down on one knee, ring in hand, saying the sweetest things that ended in “Will you marry me?” I was completely surprised!! We, of course, had to come back to Stockton to have our engagement photos taken. We planned our wedding reception close by as well, so we can return for some wedding photos on campus, too!"

Walker and Vinci continue to stay connected to the school that brought them together. Vinci stays connected through his fraternity brothers, while Walker takes frequent trips back to campus to walk, talk about her memories, and get caught up and what has changed since she graduated.

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