Linus and Lucy

An actress and a rugby captain find love in the funny pages.

Linus and Lucy
Home again: Michael and Kayla traveled from Queens to get married at the Mission. View full image. Photo by Carmen Salazar

Linus and Lucy were roles that Michael Dessel ’11 and Kayla Berghoff ’11 played in the campus production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The two began dating at play’s end, eventually relocating to NYC to start their lives together, tying the knot during a candlelit ceremony in the Mission on July 23, 2016—with their beloved theatre professor Fr. Michael Zampelli presiding.

She was a theatre major, he a theatre minor. The proposal: When Kayla stopped in San Jose to celebrate the couple’s fourth anniversary together (she had recently moved to New York to pursue her MFA in acting from The New School), Mike suggested they stroll through campus, where he popped the question by the Sacred Heart statue in the Mission Gardens. “We knew instantly we really wanted to get married in the Mission,” Kayla said.

In attendance: Kayla’s parents, Eric Berghoff ’86 and Madeline Berghoff ’87, siblings Garrett Berghoff ’16 and Tessie Berghoff ’18, and Mike’s mother, Annette Naughten-Dessel ’80—in addition to nearly 40 fellow Broncos. “Santa Clara has become a family place, which made our wedding so much more meaningful,” she says. “It’s truly a special place for both our families.”

Now living in Astoria, Queens, Mike is working as a physical therapist in Manhattan, and Kayla is in her final year of school. With 45 primetime TV shows filming in the city—in addition to commercial work and theatrical productions—she’s eager to pursue various acting opportunities upon graduation. Mike has kept busy playing rugby for a local team—he played all four years at SCU, serving as team captain as a senior—recently representing the Broncos in the rugby sevens tournament USA Touch Nationals.

When it came time for college, Kayla originally headed to USC. “I wanted something different from my parents, but that school felt too big, and I felt a little lost.” So she decided to check out Santa Clara, snagging a tour of the theatre and dance department from professor Aldo Billingslea.

“Everyone was so nice and personable,” she recalls. “I knew right then, this is where I wanted to be.” Once back in Southern California, Kayla emailed Billingslea, asking: “Do you ever take anyone in the middle of the year? I want to transfer now!” He said he’d see what he could do. “Ultimately, SCU let me come winter quarter. It was the best thing to ever happen. Because I only missed one quarter, I like to say that for all four years I was still a Bronco.”

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From the Law to the Page

S. Isabel Choi J.D. ’02 planned on becoming a judge. Now she’s an author with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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While sisters Malarie ’14 and Nia Howard ’15 always knew they’d be writers, Santa Clara’s communications department helped them discover their medium.