Hot Couple of the Week: Yulliana Novoa & Franz Villate

Get ready to be swept away with our latest Latino & Engaged: Hot Couple of the Week. 

Meet 25-year-old migrant advocate Yulliana Novoa (nicknamed Yulli) and 26-year-old social studies teacher Franz Villate. The lovebird met several years ago while studying at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL. Their deep passion for social issues such as poverty and immigration played a big role in bringing them together, and eventually Villate (who is Colombian-American) popped the question to Novoa (who is Mexican-American) last July amidst Mother Nature. 

Read this beautiful couple's story below:

How and when did you two meet?

Franz: We met for the first time briefly in the computer lab of the University of South Florida in Tampa while Yulli was an exchange student from the University of Utah. A week later, the semester ended and Yulli returned to Utah. Her departure left me with a big question of what could have happened if she had stayed. The gut-wrenching feeling of “what if” haunted me for a long time. A year and a half passed and I decided to enroll in graduate school for a Master’s in Education (M.Ed). My first class was on issues in multicultural education and when I walked into the classroom, there she was! My heart dropped. She had decided to return to Tampa to work on a MA in Latin American Studies. It was in that class where I really got to know Yulli and her unique perspective on the world and society.

Yulli, what drew you to Franz?

When we first met, I thought he was a braniac; he was so smart and I wasn’t used to that, but little did I know it would be his intelligence and outlook that would make me fall head over heels for him. We cared about similar social issues like poverty, immigration, social justice, and the environment. What I loved most about him was that he was not afraid to engage in fruitful conversations and organize actions to call attention to important issues. Franz checked off everything that was on my list and went beyond. He was Latino, educated, an activist, family-oriented, and saw me as an equal so he doesn’t mind some cooking and cleaning. I consider myself the luckiest woman in the world to have met a man with the qualities your mami tells you to look for, yet with a fresh new age twist.

Franz, what drew you to Yulli?

With Yulli, I could talk for hours and hours about social justice and education and learn something new every time. Yulli was a Latina activist intellectual who was into hip-hop, passionate about educating our youth, concerned about world issues, and beautiful all at the same time! She was everything I ever wanted and I had never met someone like her before. I guess that means we have to empower more young Latinas so that others will be as lucky as me!

Yulli, when did you know Franz was the right person for you?

I cannot pinpoint a specific moment. It was and still is an ongoing realization that he is my soulmate and partner in life. The first time I knew I had a good candidate was when he asked me to be his partner on my birthday. He gave me three presents: a sentimental one (which was flowers), a practical one (an alarm clock because I was late all the time!), and third was an emotional one (a poem in Spanish where he asked me to be his partner!). When I see him giving public speeches like at a poetry slam, a march for a social issue, in class, or with his students, it makes me proud to call him my fiancé.

Franz, when did you know Yulli was the right person for you?

The Hip Hop Theater Festival was taking place in NYC, and we wanted to go. Flying was too expensive, but that didn’t stop us. We decided to drive up to NYC all the way from Tampa, a 20-hour feat! We drove straight without stopping except for food and gas, and we conversed all the way without losing interest or nodding off. We arrived to NYC and westill had so much to talk about! I thought to myself, It would take a lifetime to talk about all the things we wanted to talk about.That’s when I knew she was the one. 

Tell us about the day of the proposal.

Franz: I didn’t want to propose in some fancy restaurant or someplace similar, because restaurants eventually close down and places go out of business. I wanted to propose in a place that would be around forever, some special place we would be able to access anytime we wanted. I decided to propose in a place that belonged to no one but Mother Nature; the great outdoors. So while we were visiting her family in Salt Lake City, I decided to take them on a hike to a beautiful pristine mountain lake named Lake Blanche. It was a tough hike: 3 miles with a change of elevation of 3,000 feet! It was a struggle, but I knew what was waiting at the end. In a way it was a metaphor for our relationship: to reach happiness and understanding requires hard work. Finally when we got to the top, we sat down by the lake tired and exhausted. Before she could catch her breath, I asked her the question and took her breath away instead. 

Yulli, what went through your head after he asked you?

Yulli: I couldn’t believe it! He kept in mind everything I told him I would like during a proposal. A long time ago we talked about engagements and I told him that I wanted to have family present and for it to be recorded and he did just that. It was a beautiful moment that I will never forget. It was perfect.

Tell us about your wedding plans. How’s that going?

Yulliana: Weddings are a beautiful coming together of two families to celebrate the love that is shared between two people. With that said, wow these things are expensive! Being a couple that is very in tune with our earth, our community, and trying to stay within our budget has been tough. We are trying to find middle ground between having a “nice” wedding and having something simpler that fits us and that we are comfortable with. It is hard to justify spending tons of money on flowers, chairs, the dress etc. when we have so much poverty in our community and so many students that need funding for college. So far we have chosen a special venue – the wedding will be at the Museum of Science and Industry. This is the same place where Franz and I had our first unofficial date – we toured the museum after hours with a flashlight and sat on top of the dome, gazing at the stars while talking about our dreams and goals.

What are you most looking forward to after you’re married?

Yulli: I look forward to having my best friend beside me while we live through the joys and pains of life together.

Franz: I look forward to supporting each other grow and reach our full potential both as a couple and as individuals.

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