Couple Living 2,000 Miles Apart Gets Married After Falling in Love During Online College Class

"From the very beginning, there was never a time that we were not moving in the direction of being together," Nadine Hallisy says of her now-husband Ed Hallisy

Ed and Nadine Hallisy
Ed and Nadine Hallisy. Photo: courtesy Southern New Hampshire University

When Ed Hallisy registered for online courses at Southern New Hampshire University, he knew he'd earn his diploma one day — but he never expected to find his soulmate in the process.

As fate would have it, Ed, 58, crossed paths with Nadine, 48, while taking the same online international business class in spring 2019.

Ed, from Cleveland, Ohio, and Nadine, from Santa Clarita, California, quickly hit it off, flirting over a class discussion board before taking their romance to the phone, with calls, text messages and FaceTimes.

The two officially started dating long-distance in June 2019 and were engaged less than a year later. After tying the knot this past July, the couple marked another exciting milestone this past weekend: Ed graduated from SNHU with Nadine by his side.

"Neither one of us was looking for anything when we started at SNHU," Ed tells PEOPLE. "It's just amazing — we compliment each other very well. I feel very grateful and very blessed. It all fell into place."

Adds Nadine: "If this story had been written by someone, it would've sounded like it was too good to be true... We were not looking for each other, but when we found each other, it was kinda like, 'Hey, this feels right.' It just felt comfortable and natural."

Ed and Nadine Hallisy
Ed and Nadine Hallisy at Ed's graduation. courtesy Southern New Hampshire University

Prior to the duo's unlikely love story, both Ed and Nadine had been living as divorced parents for over 20 years and hoped to eventually earn their college diplomas.

"I did some dating but never found anyone worth marrying," says Ed, a Marine Corps veteran and father of two daughters. "I thought that person wasn't out there."

Ed says he started college in his 20s but couldn't become a full-time student while serving his country: "It took me time to get back to it."

Meanwhile, Nadine says she had four sons at a young age and "prioritized" her children: "Going to school was something I knew I was gonna do, but I just didn't have the opportunity as a single mom. After a bad relationship, I decided I had to 'woman up' and needed to focus on the right things."

Ed and Nadine Hallisy
Ed and Nadine Hallisy. courtesy Southern New Hampshire University

A particular TV commercial for SNHU ultimately inspired them to enroll. Looking at people from all walks of life graduating from the college, Nadine saw a fresh start for herself.

"That commercial, my eyes watered up, I got really emotional, and I decided, 'Okay, it's time,' " Nadine says. "I called the next day... and the woman on the phone was so patient and kind. I remember hanging up and saying, 'I'm gonna go to this school.' "

"I was sitting in the living room with my daughter, and the same commercial came on," Ed explains. "My daughter said, 'Why don't you look at that one? And I said, 'I'm going to do that.' ... Everyone at SNHU was great, they offered credits to veterans — and it solidified my decision."

Though the spring 2019 class came at different stages of their collegiate experiences, the pair believe it was destiny that they fell in love while living thousands of miles apart.

"We started there at the exact same time. He was finishing his degree and I was starting, but both of us were put there to start our relationship," Nadine explains. "After that class, I ended up changing majors. That would've been my last business class, so we would've never met if it weren't for that course."

"From the very beginning, there was never a time that we were not moving in the direction of being together," she adds.

Ed and Nadine Hallisy
Ed and Nadine Hallisy. courtesy Southern New Hampshire University

After talking non-stop for three months, Ed and Nadine made things official on June 21, 2019. They finally met in person that August before dating long-distance for a year.

"The first time I laid eyes on her, she was picking me up at the airport. I told her how beautiful she was in person," he recalls. "After that first weekend, I knew I finally found the one, I had this feeling."

Adds Nadine: "The minute we knew each other, our plan was to be together. We didn't know how, we just knew that we were gonna figure it out. And then everything started to fall into place... Seven states and a little more than two years later, we're happy, and SNHU was the connecting force."

The couple's engagement in May 2020 was followed by their wedding on Ventura Beach, one of their favorite spots, in July 2021. Then Ed moved out to California to live with Nadine and start their new life together.

Ed and Nadine Hallisy
Ed and Nadine Hallisy at their wedding. courtesy Southern New Hampshire University

"I'm happy with her, no matter where we're at," says Ed. "I just want to be by her side and I feel we're both the same in that aspect. She's my partner, we're equals and we're in it for the long haul."

"I love our life, our life makes sense," says Nadine. "I feel like I manifested him into my life... kissing all those toads in the past made me really recognize my prince when he's in front of me."

With Ed now holding his bachelor's degree in business administration, and Nadine on track to complete her degree in human services in 2023, the couple is looking forward to their days ahead.

"We've always talked about traveling. There's a lot of places we wanna see and go," explains Nadine. "And I see us doing nonprofit work. I've experienced hardships in my life that led me to want to help certain groups, and he wants to help veterans, so we're gonna do some pretty great things for others. It'll definitely be meaningful because that's just who we are."

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They also hope others will learn from their serendipitous love story.

"If there's one thing I want people to get, it's that life's really so short," says Nadine. "This past year with COVID has shown us all that if you have the opportunity to go after love or a goal... you gotta jump. Go get it."

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