UNO couple shares love for learning


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Danielle Meadows

Nearly 10 years ago, Ryan and Theresa Rocha went on their first date. They had a few watermelon drinks at a March Madness basketball game. Since then, the couple has been loving, living and learning together—throwing in a little healthy rivalry along the way.

“I had never felt so comfortable or content with someone—he always thought about me before I did myself,” Theresa said. “We spent long hours on the couch talking.”

As time went on, the pair grew to realize they shared a special bond and just seemed to fit.

Theresa once came home on Ryan’s birthday with balloons, telling him to pick something fun for them to do. Ryan told Theresa to change into a pretty dress and bought her flowers. After picking up the children, they went out for a meal and made an unexpected pit stop at the courthouse to get married.

“If you find someone who loves you at your worst—not just your best—life will work itself out,” Ryan said. “Love is someone who’s there for you in life’s marathon, not just the sprint.”

The two enjoy going to church, watching TV, cooking and shopping. They have children that range from 6 to 34 years old, along with eight grandchildren.

The couple stays very busy, especially since they are both full-time students at University of Nebraska at Omaha. Enrolled in all the same classes, they often help each other study; however, they are both skilled in different subjects and have opposite points of view when writing papers.

Theresa at 54 years old and Ryan at 38 don’t necessarily fit the description of traditional college students. That doesn’t matter to them, because they are both incredibly passionate about learning.

Majoring in General Studies with concentrations in Behavioral Health, Communication and Sociology, the pair chose to take classes that would personally benefit themselves and their family.

“Knowledge helps us to understand others, and understanding is the beginning of wisdom,” Theresa said. “Life is all about the people around us and what we can learn from each other-not so much wealth or material gain.”

Their motivation is drawn from competition, always comparing their work to see who does the better job. Theresa and Ryan encourage each other to get work done on time and push each other not to quit. They both get very good grades and plan to finish up their degrees with honors in May 2017. They’re not yet certain on what to do after graduation but Theresa knows she wants to help people.

Although they struggle with managing their time and finding places to park (much like most other UNO students), they love this school. Theresa and Ryan have a constant desire for broadening their knowledge and appreciate learning from the perspectives of different people on campus.

“It is never too late to better your life and attend college,” Ryan said. “We have always been welcomed with open arms by professors and students both. If I can do it, anyone can.”