Moraine Valley Community College instructors can readily share stories about how they’ve made a lasting impact in the lives of their students. But, Biology professor Michelle Zurawski’s latest success story takes the cake.

On June 15, Zurawski officiated the wedding of Jen Krasny from Worth and Kevin Davenport of New Lenox, two alumni who met in her Introduction to Marine Biology course six years ago.

Over the course of their relationship, the couple said they always knew two things for certain about their future nuptials. They’d get married in nature—they chose White Pines Wedding Canyon in Mount Morris, Ill. And, they wanted Zurawski to help them tie the knot.

“We both knew we wanted Michelle,” the bride said. “We were really nervous about it. It’s a lot to ask of somebody, and you never know what they’re going to feel about that. She didn’t hesitate at all.”

Zurawski said she was “overwhelmed with joy” when asked to play such an important role at their wedding.

“What an honor to be such an integral part of their love story,” she said. “This is only one of the biggest days of their entire life, so I’ve been working very hard to make it special. I respect them so much.”

The mutual admiration began in spring 2012 during Zurawski’s annual marine biology course, which includes a trip to Belize. Davenport was in his first year at Moraine Valley. And, Krasny, who took the course in 2010, decided to take it again as an independent study for her burgeoning career at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. During the wedding ceremony, Zurawski called it “the best decision of Jen’s life.”

“When we were in the class I didn’t see that relationship developing,” the professor said. “But, as soon as we got back from the trip, I noticed some pairing up.”

A few months later Krasny and Davenport were a couple, and after both graduated from Moraine Valley, it was clear Zurawski would be more than just a former professor from their past.

“She’s an awesome person,” the groom said. “She’s been a mentor to us in terms of career advice. She’s a reference of mine, and she’s been a good friend to us.”

Zurawski expects to stay in touch with the newlyweds for years to come.

“I’ve seen them grow as college students and then professionals as well,” she said. “Now it’s so nice to continue to be not only just someone who was their professor, but a friend.”