Love Story: Todo Cambió: Love in the Lone Star State
Miguel and Brenda are a match made in heaven—which in this case means Dallas.
How’d you meet?
Miguel: One of my friends had a party with a lot of corps members, and I saw her from far away. Someone introduced us, and I remember that butterflies-in-my-stomach feeling.
Brenda: It’s important to preface that I had heard of this “Miguel Ortega” before showing up at my placement school [where Miguel had taught]. I was dying to meet him, but I had no idea he’d be this attractive Latino. The first thing I said was “Wait. You’re Miguel? The TFA legend Miguel?”
What was the first date like?
Miguel: We took a bike ride along the Trinity River. I wanted an original idea for our first date, something that would let us talk and explore the area since she was new in town.
How’d you feel those first months?
Miguel: We were like high school kids. We talked on the phone until 2 o’clock in the morning, even when we had to go to work the next day. I would drive to work and play over and over again the song we first danced to, Todo Cambió (Everything Changed) by Camila.
Brenda: After he called and asked me out for the first time—yes, called, not texted—I called my mom. I knew he was the guy I could spend the rest of my life with. For the first time I made a connection with a man who also shared my cultural background. Because I wasn’t a traditional corps member and had prior experience [in education], I had more time to spend with Miguel. I had this extra time to fall in love.
Do you two have a favorite holiday to spend together?
Brenda: Since the beginning, we’ve been big on anniversaries, whether it was our three-months-dating anniversary or our one-year-married anniversary. I never expected an anniversary to become my favorite holiday, but it is.
How did the proposal take place?
Miguel: I waited to ask until right before Thanksgiving break, so we could celebrate with our families. I chose the bridge by the Trinity River and asked a photographer friend to tell Brenda she needed a participant for a photo shoot. I would be waiting under the bridge with a mariachi band and would sing the song Si Nos Dejan (If They Let Us) by Luis Miguel. When I stepped out, the band didn’t sing with me. All of a sudden, I couldn’t remember the words. When she saw me, she started helping me sing. Then I proposed to her, and we danced while the band played.
Brenda: When it all started happening, I couldn’t see or hear clearly. My heart swelled. It’s one of the best moments of my life.
What’s the most memorable trip you two have taken together?
Brenda: We went to Mexico to introduce each other to our families. My family lives in northern Mexico and his is in central Mexico. We introduced grandparents to each other, cousins, aunts, and uncles. That was really special to me because I was able to share my whole self with Miguel. We were both born in Mexico, and it’s not easy to share those two sides of who you are.
Miguel: An impromptu trip to D.C. when we were still dating, to visit my friends. It was an unfamiliar city, and she was down to explore with me. We rode a tandem bike together for the first time—that was a challenge—while checking out the monuments. Riding bikes together is our thing. Wherever we are, outside the Colosseum in Rome or on a new beach, it’s how we explore.
How does your corps experience continue to influence the life you two are building together?
Brenda: Teaching kids is what keeps us moving forward. It helps to know I have someone who continues to guide and support that.
Miguel: Because of our backgrounds as Latinos in this country and the different things we went through teaching, we connected in a way I’ve never connected with anybody else before. We have a shared story about why we want to teach.
Brenda: We see a lot of ourselves in the kids at our schools. It’s why we go to work every day. It really is a part of our marriage.
Any advice for other couples starting off in the corps?
Brenda: It’s worth the time; you’ll be on cloud nine all year. Our relationship forced me to balance work and a social life. Without him, I might have burned out.