PHHP partners in love
Brian and Hilary Unell
Becky’s earliest memory of Ben comes from the first week of classes in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Ben was helping a classmate with anatomy and he struck her as smart and a good team player.
But it wasn’t until second year of the DPT program when things really clicked for Becky and Ben. They had moved into an apartment together with a mutual friend. Living together meant spending even more time together, whether it was working out, driving to school and internships, tailgating or doing group projects.
“Over a couple of months we figured out we liked each other more than friends and the rest is history.”
They have fond memories of going to Lake Wauburg to kayak, play frisbee golf and rock climb. And of course, cheering on Gator sports teams.
“Being at UF from 2006 to 2009, we have awesome memories of watching Tebow and seeing both basketball and football championship seasons.”
Since graduation, Becky and Ben have worked together all but a year and a half. They currently work for Kaiser Permanente as home health physical therapists.
“It is comforting to know that as a couple we are going through extremely similar challenges and highlights throughout the workday. There is something calming about knowing if you have a bad day your partner is able to relate, empathize and offer advice. It makes us closer, having so many similarities. We also always have someone we respect to ask for treatment ideas and different approaches to our patient care.”
Outside of work, the couple, who has been married for six and a half years, loves to travel, especially to visit friends and national parks so they can hike and trail run. They also train together for triathlons; last year, Becky competed in eight races and Ben in six.
In 2016, they created the McWells Scholarship to provide financial support for UF DPT students.
“We feel it is important to give back to the school that provided us many tools, behaviors and knowledge to be where we are today — happy and excited about our careers.”
Sarah Catalanotto and Lindsey Redding first met in 2010 at a Master of Public Health student event at the home of Mary Peoples-Sheps, Dr.P.H., then the college’s senior associate dean for public health. That night, Sarah and Lindsey had a great conversation. Sarah felt sparks right away and was excited to meet someone driven and ambitious. Lindsey thought Sarah was fun and hoped they would become friends. It wasn’t until they connected again several months later, however, that their romance really began.
After a first date at Mother’s Pub, Sarah and Lindsey spent a lot of time together, attending campus events and hanging out with Lindsey’s fellow graduate hall directors.
“The campus environment was welcoming, exciting and beautiful. It’s great to be a Florida Gator,” they said.
Following graduation, both accepted jobs at north central Florida public health agencies. Sarah is the executive director of Suwannee River Area Health Education. Lindsey is the director of community initiatives at WellFlorida Council. She is also in her third year teaching the UF public health online course on assessment and surveillance.
“In many ways, our shared experience of working in public health allows for deep conversations and discussions about public health issues, but public health is a broad field and we share different passions,” they said.
Lindsey’s interests are in community assessment and solutions-oriented program development, and Sarah’s passions are community education and access to care, especially in rural communities.
Sarah and Lindsey say that public health in north central Florida can feel like a small world, especially after serving the community for several years.
“We share many of the same contacts in our professional work and we often see each other at community meetings. We frequently discover that we are both independently partnering with the same organization or professional for different projects.”
Sarah and Lindsey married in 2017 and they share the home they built in High Springs with two dogs and one cat, all rescues. They enjoy outdoor activities, such as kayaking, walking, camping and yard work. They also travel all over the world. Destinations include various islands in the Caribbean as well as Canada, Cambodia, Guatemala, Thailand, England and Vietnam. Next up is Italy this August.
Their secret to a successful relationship is to “have fun, don’t sweat the small stuff, learn to love things together and apart, and most of all, be affectionate daily.”
Brian (BS ’97) and Hilary Unell’s love story began in the late ’90s when they were among 11 students in UF’s dual Master of Business Administration/Master of Health Administration program. They socialized within a group of friends for more than a year before sparks flew.
“Because of this, we didn’t really have an ‘official’ or ‘traditional’ first date,” Hilary said. “It naturally transitioned to hanging out less with a group of friends and more just the two of us.”
Their favorite date spots included Las Margaritas, Harry’s, Leonardo’s, The Swamp Restaurant and Don Pablo’s, as well as Gator games and Sister Hazel concerts.
Brian and Hilary say that having shared professional interests brings a unique element to their relationship.
“Understanding each other’s ‘work worlds’ definitely helped us support each other professionally. Whereas many couples can only support each other personally, we believe our ability to support each other professionally and personally has positively influenced and enhanced our relationship.”
Now living in Atlanta and married since 2001, Brian and Hilary are raising 10-year-old son Harris and 16-month-old daughter Sara who make them “smile, laugh and a little more humbled with each passing day.” Brian just began his 11th year with Piedmont Healthcare and Hilary worked in various health administration consulting roles until 2015 when she entered what she likes to call her “first retirement.”
They continue to cheer on the Gators — most recently in the stands at the Florida-Georgia men’s basketball game in Athens last month — and they attend Sister Hazel concerts when the band comes to Atlanta.
Brian and Hilary share their best relationship advice:
- Treat each other as if every day is a special occasion instead of going all out just because it’s a birthday, anniversary or holiday.
- Make an effort to start and end each day with a smile, kiss and hug.
- Keep “it’s not my turn or it’s not my job” thoughts out of your mind and words out of your vocabulary. Instead, if you see something that needs to be done, do it.