In May, Wilson Harmond knew that he was going to propose to his girlfriend, Dana Francisco, and he knew exactly when – on November 17th during the football game against Virginia, when Georgia Tech Athletics celebrated Senior Day.
Harmond, a sixth-year undergraduate in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and Francisco, a fifth-year chemical and bimolecular engineering student, are long-time cheerleaders for the Yellow Jackets. After their initial meeting, they didn’t really talk to each other again for two years.
This was actually easier than you might think, because the Tech cheer team is surprisingly large – almost 70 people strong. The team is broken up into three squads by level of skill – Gold, White, and Navy – and divide up cheering at the men’s and women’s basketball games. The entire team is present on football Saturdays.
Eventually, though, Harmond and Francisco were reintroduced by mutual friends the weekend of Francisco’s birthday. They started talking about the books they were reading: Francisco was deep into Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and Harmond was rereading The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius for the sixth time.
From there, “we would go to a coffee shop or hang out at home and sit and read next to each other,” Harmond said. “And then eventually we would end up talking about what we were reading. It was a different kind of dating than either of us had ever done.”
It didn’t take long before the couple was discussing marriage, but Harmond wanted the actual proposal to be unexpected. Francisco, who had taken a break from cheerleading to focus on her studies, came back to the squad in 2018. That’s when Harmond decided to propose on Senior Day.
“For Senior Day, all our families would be there,” he said. “And because her last name starts with an ‘F’ and mine starts with an ‘H’ – there’s no ‘G’ between us – I knew we would be standing right next to each during the presentation. I could make this work.”
With a little coordination from the Athletic Department and Tech spirit coach Daniel Nester, as well as some help from his dad and from Buzz, Harmond pulled off the surprise. “Dana and I had been on the White squad, but for Senior Day, they put us on the Gold Squad. So we got to do some really fun, higher-level stunts that we had wanted to try for a while. That also put us in front of the student section in Bobby Dodd, and all our friends – who knew the proposal was happening – were in the stands right in front of us.”
After the Senior Day presentation, Buzz knelt down in front of Francisco, giving Harmond a few seconds to drop to one knee behind her and pull out the ring box. “She had written off the proposal even happening, because she thought I would do it before the game,” Harmond said, grinning. “So her reaction was awesome. It was really fun.”
Of course Francisco said yes, and now the couple is planning their wedding for next November, depending – as you would expect from a dedicated cheer couple – on the Yellow Jackets’ football schedule.
They’ve been together a little over a year, but Harmond knew three months in that he wanted to marry Francisco. “I knew she’s the one,” he said. “The one I want to take home to my mom, the one I want to show off to everyone. And now I get to do it forever.”
H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering