‘I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way’: Professor couple shares unique path to love

Dr. Renée Umstattd Meyer and Dr. Andy Meyer share their unique love story. Photo courtesy of Dr. Renée Umstattd Meyer

By Erika Kuehl | Staff Writer

Dr. Renée Umstattd Meyer, associate dean for research in Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, and Dr. Andy Meyer, associate professor in sport foundations, were not ring-by-springers, but they now find their offices across the hall.

When they met at the University of Illinois, Renée was completing her postdoctoral position, and Andy was finishing his Ph.D. They ran in similar crowds and went to a yoga class as friends once before she moved to Alabama.

“And then Facebook appeared, and I was not savvy,” Renée said. “And so I was lucky enough one of my friends that we had — I guess the closest friend that we had mutually in common from Illinois — I had seen her and then saw him post on her page. And I was like, ‘Oh, Andy. I wonder how he’s doing.’ So I invited him to be my friend, and then we kind of connected a little bit that spring, and then I started training for a triathlon with my sister.”

After, they began connecting on social media over their mutual ventures in triathlons. Andy slid into Facebook messenger and started asking if she needed any advice on training.

“One of my friends from Illinois was getting married, and so one of our mutual friends invited me to be her plus one to her wedding, and I said yes,” Renée said. “And so I reached out to Andy. I was like, ‘Hey, I’m going to be in town for a wedding. Are you going to be around?’ And he was like, ‘Well, maybe we can go on a bike ride.'”

When her flight got delayed, Renée decided to drive the distance between Alabama and Illinois to fulfill her dinner plans with Andy.

“I didn’t remember what his voice sounded like at this point or how infectious his laugh was,” Renée said. “And so I said, ‘Hey, I’ll be there, but I’m driving.’ And when I arrived, we had a really frank conversation pretty early on. ‘Are we friends, or do we want to see where this could go?'”

Their first dating venture was taste-testing all the cupcakes at the wedding reception, which quickly turned into sushi-tasting in town. Five days after Renée left, Andy drove down to Alabama.

After some time as a long-distance couple, Renée was offered a temporary job position in Hawaii.

“She invited me to go on a research trip to Hawaii, and I think I said, ‘OK, I’m going to marry this girl,’” Andy said. “So then, when she took the job at Baylor, I had just graduated with my Ph.D. from Illinois, so I moved to Texas with her and we got married.”

Renée said she knew God had called them to start their lives together when they moved to Waco. They had a small backyard ceremony in 2010 and married again a year later with all their family and friends.

“Everybody was out there dancing, and we have friends that are no longer with us that I’ll always hear a song and just remember them,” Andy said. “Everybody was sweaty and dancing, and nobody walked away from that wedding saying there was a minute that [they] didn’t enjoy.”

Both well into their careers at Baylor, Renée said working in the same department as Andy means their worlds are always intertwined.

“It’s also, I think, lovely in the fact that I have watched Andy teach, and I see him come alive in the classroom,” Renée said. “It’s because he cares so much about it, and I have been able to watch and walk alongside and really be part of what I feel is a huge calling for him.”

Now with two daughters, they are excited for the unexpected of every day and their future adventures.

“Our whole life has been exciting together, and I feel like our future is just — we don’t know what the path is,” Andy said. “And so that’s exciting, to see what comes now. Whatever happens tomorrow, we just don’t know. So I guess the exciting thing is that I have my best friend, my spouse and my wife sitting right next to me going through all of this.”

Renée said her path in love didn’t look like the stories around her, but God’s timing allowed her to find her perfect person.

“I was a Baylor undergrad,” Renée said. “Ring by spring is real. It trickles. I had lots of friends who were passing the candle, that were doing all the things, and that wasn’t what God had in store for me. In fact, it took years to circle around, to find the person that God had planned for me. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”