Grad says ‘yes’ to onstage marriage proposal at convocation

At York many things are possible – as graduating student Maria Salcedo discovered when her boyfriend of six years proposed marriage onstage during Friday morning’s Spring Convocation ceremony.

Salcedo thought her day was already going great. She was about to receive her undergraduate degree from York’s Faculty of Education with a major in kinesiology and health science. What was missing, however, was her boyfriend Alex Vasquez. “We came together and I was looking for him in the audience.” But she couldn’t locate him. “I was texting him, wondering where he was.”

Alex Vasquez proposes to his sweetheart, graduating student Maria Salcedo, onstage during Friday's Spring 2011 Convocation ceremonyLeft: Alex Vasquez proposes to his sweetheart, graduating student Maria Salcedo, onstage during Friday’s Spring 2011 Convocation ceremony

She didn’t have to wait long to find out. As Salcedo crossed the stage as a new graduate to shake hands with York Chancellor Roy McMurtry and President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, Vasquez appeared from the wings, threw off the gown he was using as a disguise and bent down on one knee in front of her.

“I was just so ecstatic,” she said. “I thought, ‘what are you doing here [onstage]?’”

With a ring in one hand and a microphone in the other, Vasquez told Salcedo that he couldn’t ever imagine being without her. “Love of my life. I thank God every single day that he has blessed me with the most beautiful woman I could ever imagine being with. I love you with all my heart. You stole me with the first kiss. Will you marry me?”

Salcedo said later she couldn’t hear a word of what Vasquez was saying because of the loud cheering coming from her classmates, but knew what was going on and nodded a tearful yes. “I knew when he stopped talking, that was when I should say yes,” she said. “It was a complete surprise.”

Vasquez, a truck mechanic, designed the ring himself – 18-carat gold and frameless with a diamond that is almost point nine in size. “I’m bankrupt now,” he joked.

Unknown to Salcedo, her boyfriend had been planning this moment for a month, ever since he attended a semi-formal event with her and her classmates. “I just saw how much school and her friends meant to her,” he said, convinced convocation was the perfect setting for his proposal. He said he was grateful for the assistance he received from convocation staff.

“I feel like a celebrity,” Vasquez said as he waited backstage for his big moment, with University staff fussing over him and taking his picture. But he added nervously: “I hope she answers before she starts to cry.”  In the end, he was delighted to have pulled it off. “I was so happy when she said yes.”

As for Salcedo, she thinks it’s great because she will always have two reasons to celebrate June 17.

By Sandra McLean, YFile writer