“I handed her the note in the elevator, said a couple prayers and hoped it would resonate,” recalls Marquis Victor ’09, communications major and former member of the men’s basketball program.
That was the moment that started everything for Marquis and his wife, Ileizy “Jackie” (Rodrigues) Victor ’08.
Jackie, a criminal justice major, was president of the Multicultural Student Association and hyper-focused on her academics when Marquis slipped her a poem as she rode the elevator to her biology class in Meier Hall. “I didn’t open it right away and took it back to my dorm. When I opened it, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever read.”
Marquis was a transfer student who first spotted Jackie at orientation, where she was helping the admissions staff organize the event. That same summer, Marquis—a poet and artist—was in a self-professed romantic state and wrote a short story. Funnily enough, Jackie seemingly fit the criteria of the character he had written about—a sign that he needed to reach out.
He wrote the poem, and the rest is history. Almost 17 years later, Jackie and Marquis are married with a daughter. “It all started at Salem State,” they both exclaim.
Jackie is putting her criminal justice degree to good use as a business analyst for the trial court of Massachusetts, and in addition to being an artist, Marquis is the founder and executive director of Elevated Thought, an art and social justice organization based in Lawrence, Mass.
Together with their daughter, Zyra, they continue to explore natural landscapes and bodies of water much like they did during their time at Salem State.
When asked about the secret to a happy marriage, they both agree that communication and transparency is paramount. Jackie says, “It’s important to build each other up and continue to make each other shine, despite that external things that come into play in a relationship.” Marquis agrees, saying, “Try to exist outside of yourself; take a step back, listen, build empathy, and pursue understanding each other in an authentic way.”
Looking back at their Salem State experience, they are both thankful, saying, “Salem State provided us a starting point and helped us evolve.”
How beautifully poetic.