For Howard Payne University alumni Ben and Angela (Haney) Butler, the university will forever represent more than just an education – it’s also where they met and fell in love. The couple was married on November 2, 2013, just one month before they crossed the stage to receive their Master of Business Administration degrees.
Ben, a Graham native, and Angela, from Denison, both started at HPU in the fall of 2008. After seeing each other around campus for a year, they became friends in the fall of 2009.
“I could always tell that there was something special about Ben,” said Angela. “He was always the guy who would do anything to help out a friend. If you ask any of his friends from HPU, they’ll tell you that he goes above and beyond to take care of other people.”
It wasn’t until the next year, however, that Angela noticed her feelings for Ben were evolving into something deeper.
“I finally told a mutual friend of ours, and he got so excited that he immediately went and told Ben,” she said.
According to Ben, he didn’t quite believe the news for the first few weeks.
“I wasn’t sure if it was true or if my buddies were just playing a joke on me,” he said. “Angela was the type of girl that I always felt was out of my league, and I still do. But on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving that year, as I was getting ready to head home for break, I decided to text her.”
A month later, the couple was “officially” dating and they continued to do so throughout the rest of their undergraduate careers.
“Ben actually chose to get his Master of Business Administration degree through HPU before I did,” said Angela. “He had an extra year of eligibility left in baseball and thought the MBA program sounded perfect.”
Angela, who had taken an internship in her hometown after graduating with a bachelor’s degree, discovered that a long-distance relationship was not what she wanted. Fortunately, she applied for an admission counselor position with HPU’s Office of Admission and was hired soon after.
“I didn’t really think anything about getting an MBA until after I came back to work at HPU and more people began to tell me about their great experiences with the program,” she said. “It was enticing to me because an MBA can help you in so many different fields, and it can be completed in only one year. I decided to follow in Ben’s footsteps and get mine too.”
In between busy work schedules, baseball and other events, Ben and Angela attended graduate classes together at nights and on weekends. Their relationship continued to blossom, and they became engaged on March 16, 2013, at a family friend’s house after a home baseball game.
“I turned a corner and saw Ben standing there with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, his Bible and a little blue box wrapped in white ribbon,” Angela said. “He proposed and I said yes in front of our friends and family. We celebrated the night away.”
Due to the fact that Ben finished his MBA in August and Angela finished hers in December, they had the rare opportunity to graduate together a month after their wedding.
“It was a really cool thing to do,” Angela said. “I even had the registrar’s office make sure that my name said ‘Angela Nicole Butler’ on my diploma instead of ‘Haney.’ When I walked the stage they had me wait for Ben’s name to be called too. We were able to get our picture taken together on the platform, as husband and wife, both graduating with our Master of Business Administration degrees. It was a really great experience to get to share with him.”
The couple now lives in The Colony, with Ben working for Evantage, Inc., and Angela for Lewisville ISD. They’ve joined Prestonwood Baptist Church and say they have been blessed by God’s continual provision.
“As far as the future goes, sometimes it seems like we have a ton of plans and sometimes it seems like we’re just playing it fast and loose,” Angela said. “We would both eventually like to pursue entrepreneurship. We want to travel. We want to raise a family. But right now, we’re just taking it one step at a time and loving each other with everything we have.”