TEMPE, Ariz. (KSAZ) - More than 800 military affiliated students will graduate this semester from Arizona State University and on Saturday morning at Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium, many of the graduating veterans walked the stage during the Veterans Honor Stole Ceremony.
FOX 10 Phoenix caught up with a couple who shared their amazing love story with education and the military.
Between the two of them, there's been an overseas deployment, a wedding and two college degrees. Some couples don't make it through one of these major life events, but John and Nikki Fowler say all of it has brought them closer together.
The two met while in Army training and to their surprise, were reunited months later.
"The same company, the same platoon, across the desk from me. Surprise. So it felt fated. And we began to date. And then I got orders to Afghanistan," John said.
And long distance for their budding relationship wasn't always easy.
"Nikki stuck by me through everything. Through a really tumultuous deployment where we had a lot of rough experiences. But we made it through, and after that, we both decided we wanted more from life," John said.
Both John and Nikki credit each other for their motivation, even making grades into a romantic competition.
"So whoever had the better GPA just for the semester got to choose what date they wanted, and the other person had to pay for it," Nikki said.
"Time, place, meal, drink, I mean everything. Spare no expense. And you're [Nikki] winning this semester, but I still have a couple of grades that could come in and change it," John said.
At the end of the day, the Fowlers say it wasn't always a cakewalk, but graduating together sets them on a path for success.
"We both matured as individuals during our time in college. And the support we've had for each other was a part of that. Not only ASU and going through the process of pursuing our passions and our degrees, but also growing in our love together," John said.