A bus ride with a group of strangers isn’t the most promising start for a great romance, but it turned out to be the right place at the right time for Marielle Perrault McGregor ’10 and her husband, Alex McGregor ’10.
As first-year SMU students, they didn’t really know what to expect when they boarded the motor coach for Mustang Corral in August 2006. They certainly didn’t realize that the trip to the off-campus retreat would be their first date, sort of.
“We really got to chatting after one of the Corral leaders started a round of ‘speed dating,’ so to speak, to encourage everyone to get to know each other,” explains Marielle.
The icebreaker worked. A few weeks later, they were officially a couple.
Marielle hails from Columbus, Ohio, where she grew up playing volleyball and studying ballet. When she was applying to universities, SMU jumped to the top of her list because she found programs that could satisfy her academic passions.
“I was looking to double major in dance and advertising and wanted a school where both programs where strong,” she explains.
Alex grew up in The Woodlands, a Houston suburb, where he mastered the roles of science geek, theatre nerd and tennis ace. Adding “Mustang” to the list was a natural progression. He comes from a long line of SMU graduates, including his late grandfather, Alex Ramsay Elder ’53; his parents James McGregor ’79 and Julia Elder McGregor ’80, who met as geology majors; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
Four years after meeting, they were marching down the aisle – at graduation.
Marielle earned bachelor’s degrees in advertising and dance performance from Meadows School of the Arts, which she has put to good use in her dual careers. By day she is a senior digital editor for Dallas County Community Colleges’ online publications. In the evening she teaches dance and performs with the 6 o’Clock Dance Theatre. She also has danced with Dallas Black Dance Theatre and Contemporary Ballet Dallas.
“The Temerlin Advertising Institute program gave me a framework for my creativity,” she says. “Professors did an excellent job of providing both theory and hands-on projects where I not only learned how to create unforgettable ads, but also to adapt ideas for different audiences and media.
“As for the dance program, during my four years at SMU, I worked with some of the top choreographers in the nation and developed relationships with local dance leaders and classmates,” she adds. “The network I have been able to build has, by far, been the most valuable asset to my dance technique.”
As a corporate communications and public affairs major in Meadows, Alex flexed his oratorical skills as a member of the SMU Debate Team, which captured a number of awards after being revived in 2008. Ben Voth, director of debate and associate professor of corporate communications and public affairs, became “an exceptional mentor,” Alex says.
“Dr. Voth goes beyond helping students in the classroom. He truly cares about students as people,” he says. “He is actively involved in the academic and professional world and exposes students to both settings.”
Today Alex is lead iOS software engineer for Bottle Rocket Studios, where he has had a hand in developing apps for such big-name clients as Starwood Hotels and Resorts and The Coca Cola Company and worked on OoVoo, the world’s largest independent video chat and instant messaging app.
Marielle and Alex wed on December 15, 2012, at The Woodlands United Methodist Church. However, they have a milestone anniversary coming up this week as the Class of 2020 heads off to Camp Corral.
“We’ve been a couple now for 10 years,” notes Marielle, “and it’s amazing to think that it all began on a bus ride.”
– Patricia Ward