Chances Are...a UM-Dearborn Love Story
CASL alumni Mario and Julie (Johnson) Azzopardi (both ‘89 B.A.) met as interns in UM-Dearborn’s Washington, D.C. Summer Internship Program and have continued their UM-Dearborn legacy through their two children.
A Constitutional Law class may not seem like the most romantic setting, but it is where CASL alumni Mario and Julie Azzopardi’s relationship started. They didn’t know each other during Professor Anderson’s class, but — when tracing their relationship back 30 years — their first encounter was in that political science course. They then separately decided to apply for a UM-Dearborn Summer Internship program in Washington, D.C. in 1988, which Julie notes was “an especially exciting time” because it was an election year.
Although they recognized each other from class, Mario and Julie first started talking when they were in D.C., a meeting Mario attributes to food. “The guys in my apartment decided to throw a party for the whole group, and that’s where we met. She had a craving for chocolate, and I happened to have chocolate pudding.” Mario and his roommates also were known for having food all the time, so Julie would head over for dinner.
In addition to those dinners and a high-pace internship working at the nation’s capital, some memories that stand out to the couple include canoeing down the Potomac River (despite the fact that their canoe was leaking, Julie insists it was “a beautiful day and a great experience”), and the Fourth of July celebration. “We found a freight elevator in one of the buildings we stayed in and we figured out how to get up to the roof, and we watched the Fourth of July fireworks from there,” Julie says. Another was seeing the movie Chances Are, starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Cybill Shepherd, which Mario says was being filmed “four or five blocks” from their apartments near Georgetown. They later chose the song “Chances Are” as their wedding song.
Before going to Washington, D.C., the UM-Dearborn interns were told that it’s easy to catch “Potomac fever" —to get caught up in the exciting environment and not want to leave — and both Mario and Julie admit that this is true. “You get addicted to the fast pace of D.C. and being in the heart of everything. You could be sitting on a subway and have a senator sitting across from you,” Mario says. Julie agrees and adds, “I enjoyed the fast pace, and it’s easy to see why people want to work there after graduation. However, I knew it would be a difficult place to raise a family.” Ironically, their son Dom Azzopardi (‘16 B.S.) now works there as a federal attorney.
While they both loved working at their internships and navigating life in D.C., the best part of their internship and college experience was meeting each other. Several fellow UM-Dearborn alumni were in their wedding party, which occurred the day before Mario’s law school graduation.
They continued their UM-Dearborn legacy by encouraging both Dom and their daughter Erin Azzopardi (‘19 B.A.) to attend their alma mater. In addition to their education, they say they are also grateful for UM-Dearborn because it is what brought them together...well, that and chocolate pudding.
- Written by Erin Azzopardi, ’19 B.A.
Photo captions (left to right): Mario (right) and Julie (center) with other interns in Washington, D.C.; Mario and Julie attend a performance at the Kennedy Center with friends during their internship in D.C.; Mario, Julie, and Vince Lorelli ('89 B.A.) outside the Fieldhouse at their graduation; Mario and Julie's wedding party, including fellow-alumni Mary (Hackert) Haas ('89 B.A.) (far left), Sharon (Smith) Rouse ('89 B.A.) (second from left), Vince Lorelli ('89 B.A.) (third from right), and Kevin Johnson ('86 B.B.A.) (second from right); Mario and Julie with their daughter, Erin ('19 B.A.), outside the Fieldhouse at her graduation