Meet Mr. & Mrs. Crippen: Hawk Love Bound for the West Coast

  • Thursday, May 9, 2019
    Racheal & Dre Crippen

    With their sights set on the West Coast, New Church, Va. native Deshondre (Dre) Crippen and his wife, Zambian native Ruth (Racheal) Crippen, will both receive their bachelor's degrees May 24 at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore's spring commencement. 

    Their journey began when Dre, a construction management technology major, and the electrical engineering major better known around campus as Racheal met while attending the same church in Salisbury when they were in middle school. 

    During her senior year in high school, the two became inseparable after Dre rode his skateboard one evening from north Salisbury to Peninsula Regional Medical Center to offer moral support as Racheal's mother experienced a medical emergency. The couple married on May 2, 2015. 

    The Crippens now scoff good-naturedly at the doubt projected upon them as a young married couple pursuing their college education. 

    People would say “you are not going to make it,” Racheal said. “Now, we are at this point and some of those (same) people are (now) calling us 'goals'.” 

    Their path to graduation didn't come without challenges. Dre was deeply impacted by the passing of his grandmother, leading him to take time off from school while working for a local engineering firm. 

    Racheal built up her resume with a Lockheed Martin Corp. internship, while Dre also secured an internship so both were able to see what the West Coast had to offer.  And offer it did. Dre will work for Whiting-Turner Construction Company in San Jose, Calif. as a project engineer. 

    As graduation day approaches, “It's surreal to see the outcome of our hard work,” Dre said.

    The Crippens are 'Hawkish' on graduation

    Both first-generation college students, they are overjoyed to be at the finish line, which they have celebrated with a series of social media posts featuring graduation photos including a snapshot of the couple wearing their mortar boards with Jax, their five-month-old Xolo puppy. 

    The couple expressed deep appreciation for their time at UMES and for the support they received. They singled out Dr. Yuanwei Jin (engineering department chair), Joel Tomlinson (technology), Dr. Ibibia Dabipi (engineering) and Etahe Johnson (technology). 

    “UMES made sure that the only way you didn't have an opportunity was because you didn't take it,” Racheal said. “UMES prepared us for a lot.” 

    The couple offered parting advice to future UMES students: 

    Don't allow yourself to settle. Approach your goals with a plan, and don't be afraid to put in the hard work for your dream. 

    Racheal celebrates her 25th birthday a day before graduation. The couple will relocate to California, where Dre will begin work as a construction project engineer in mid-June just three weeks after leaving Princess Anne.


     By Tahja Cropper