Graduation Profile: Discovering romance in the romantic language department

It’s a story that could’ve been taken straight from the script of a romantic comedy. For most of their lives, they had been just missing each other. Brian Moots, Ph.D. candidate in French, grew up in Southern Missouri, just three hours from the hometown of his future wife, Angela Moots, also a Ph.D. candidate in French.

Brian received his undergraduate degree in history from Missouri State University, but decided to further pursue studies in French after a study abroad trip to Quebec. Angela received her undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Arkansas, but she also decided to further her education in French after a study abroad trip to Paris. The pair went on to receive master’s degrees in French and they both took a year off between master’s and Ph.D. work to teach English in France.

“We were following each other, it was pretty funny,” Angela said.

“Then we finally matched up,” Brian said.

Their stories finally collided at the KU Department of French & Italian “welcome” picnic in August of 2011. Brian had been working on his Ph.D. for a year but Angela was new to the program. They were friends for about two and half years before starting to date. They were in the same bible study group, went toMoots picture 2 the same church and were, of course, in the same academic department at KU.

“We’d see each other on campus all the time and then bible study and church and with our mutual friend group,” Angela said.

“I think other people were saying ‘Why aren’t you dating? You’re just friends? Are you sure you just want to be friends?’ That kind of thing,” Brian said.

“We were already hanging out all the time anyway,” Angela said.

The couple says their shared interest in academia and in French is a strong part of their relationship. They can help bounce ideas off each other in both the research and teaching parts of their career.

“It’s so nice doing similar things. Because we’re in the same place so we get to meet up all the time for coffee breaks and lunch, and we can also talk to each other about our jobs and there’s this automatic understanding,”  Brian said.

“And we get to travel which is fun, it’s always a plus,” Angela said.

Each of them received grants to conduct research in Paris during the summer of 2013 and they were able to plan their trips at the same time. Luckily they worked it out, because Brian popped the question during their trip.

They spent the day of the proposal eating lunch at the famous café Angelina’s, walking around Paris, enjoying a nice dinner in the Latin Quarter and walking along the river. Brian had planned to propose on Angela’s favorite bridge in Paris, the Pont Alexandre III. However, a typical French protest was taking place and the couple had to walk through it to get across.

“I was thinking, can we sneak by there? Cause I had this all planned out,” Brian said laughing.

The couple got married in Angela’s hometown of Fort Smith, Arkansas, the following January and incorporated their shared passion for French culture into the wedding day.

“We had French food at the reception which was delicious. We had a big cheese platter, like a cheese cake but made of cheese wheels. And breads. And Croquembouche, the cream puff tower, instead of a groom’s cake,” Angela said.

This spring, both Angela and Brian will receive their Ph.D. in French.

“We’ll get hooded together which is really fun,” Angela said. “We’re looking forward to that.”

After graduation, the couple plans to move to Pittsburg. Starting in the fall, Brian will be an assistant professor of French and Spanish at Pittsburg State University. They’re excited to be so close to each of their families but they said they’ll be sad to leave Lawrence.

“We’re excited to leave for the next step but we’re glad we’ll be close, to keep in touch. We plan on coming back a lot,” Brian said.

“We’ve both really enjoyed our time here and made some really good friends. We’re both really glad we came here,” Angela said.