Graduation is a milestone event in a person’s life.
But for KaToya Williams, receiving her Master of Arts degree in business administration came with another unforgettable surprise. During the graduation ceremony Dec. 17 at Brenau University in Gainesville, her longtime boyfriend, Lloyd Terry, proposed.
“I was very surprised,” Williams said. “It was graduation day. So I’m already nervous just to be back on campus, walking across the stage and getting my degree. So I was just focused on that.”
But Terry had other plans.
After the ceremony, when the graduates walked to the library to pick up their diplomas, Terry gathered Williams’ loved ones around the fountain outside the school. When Williams returned to greet her loved ones, she was not expecting what came next.
“I was all excited to see my friends and family and I was wanting to go hug everyone,” she said. “Lloyd told me to stand right in front of the fountain and then he said he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. After I heard those words, I just started crying and I really didn’t hear everything else after that.”
Terry said the proposal went perfectly and he wouldn’t change any part of it. Although he wasn’t nervous beforehand, he said he was excited when the moment came.
“I was fairly calm up until the point where I actually asked her and I actually got a comprehensible ‘yes’ from her,” Terry said. “My heart started really racing when I put the ring on her finger.”
A self-described “family-oriented person,” Williams said the fact that her friends and family were present for the proposal made the event even more special. And she loves that the special day coincided with graduation.
“It means a lot because it’s two events that are life-changing,” she said. “On top of that, both events took place at my alma mater, which I love so much. For him to propose at my favorite school in the whole wide world, it truly means so much to me.”
Williams, an Augusta native, previously earned a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising from Brenau in 2013. After working in retail in Savannah, she returned to her alma mater for graduate study in July 2015.
She met Terry, a graduate of Southern Polytechnic State University, through a co-worker at Lizard Thicket in Norcross. She worked there after earning her undergraduate degree.
Sacramento native Terry, a senior accountant at Atlanta property management company Radco, called her after church on a Sunday in April 2014. They met for their first date in Piedmont Park that afternoon.
Around the time they met, Williams found out about her job offer at Citi Trends in Savannah. She asked Terry if he would continue the relationship long-distance. The couple have been together for 2 « years since.
Terry said he knew Williams was “the one” for a while, but struggled to find the right time to propose. Last year at Thanksgiving, Terry shared his intentions with Williams’ father, who agreed. He said he saw the two being together forever.
Terry then shared his plans with the rest of Williams’ family, who kept the proposal secret for more than a year.
“Once I asked her father, I was desperately looking for the right date (to propose),” he said. “Back in July she told me she would be graduating in December. So from then, I just started gradually setting everything up. Luckily, it all came together.”
Williams described her new fiance as “a sweetheart,” intelligent and a comic book lover. She said he is goal-oriented, which motivates her to achieve her goals as well.
Terry had similar praises for his love.
“KaToya is driven, creative and very positive,” he said. “She can always see the best in the worst situations.”
The couple is excited to finally be in the same city again after two years apart. Williams has lived in Smyrna since May, working as an assistant buyer for a travel retail company and finishing her degree, while Terry lives and works in Atlanta.
Currently, the two said they are focusing on enjoying the holidays and spending time with friends and family. But Williams said they will begin planning the wedding in the new year and hope for an October ceremony.