11/8/13 Thomas and Sarah Mustillo

Thomas Mustillo, assistant professor in the College of Liberal Arts, and Sarah Mustillo, associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts, reminisce the first time they met. They are one of the married faculty couples on campus.

The romance started in South Bend, Ind., and two professors of liberal arts have been running everywhere together ever since.

Thomas and Sarah Mustillo found themselves teaching at Purdue after meeting in South Bend. Sarah, an associate professor in sociology, and Thomas, an assistant professor in political science, were brought together by fate, they said, in an unassuming bar.

“I saw him and asked my friends, ‘Who is he?’ Then he was gone. I was really disappointed I wasn’t going to meet this person,” said Sarah. “Then we all went to a second bar; he showed up, walked in, came right over and started talking to me. It’s like it was meant to be.”

After they both completed graduate school, the couple went on the job market together. Thomas said they were happy to find jobs together in Indiana.

Now that Thomas and Sarah are settled, their daily routine contains a lot of running — running after their three kids, running to campus and running for exercise.

The couple started running together after Sarah’s friend stopped working out halfway through her and Sarah’s training for a marathon. Thomas was quick to motivate Sarah and kept her going.

“I was like, ‘I’ll train with you!’” said Thomas.

Thomas came out of 10 years of running retirement to work out with his wife.

“That was the romantic part,” said Sarah. “I started training for this marathon and I didn’t think I could do it by myself. So he just jumped in and started getting up early with me. He’s like my running coach.”

Ever since, the couple has been getting up early in the morning to exercise together. Thomas says it’s been great for their relationship – they’re becoming healthier, and it’s something they can do as a couple.

Thomas has discovered that his marathon coaching skills just might be a little too good, though.

“I used to be faster than her, but now she’s faster than me. Actually, now she’s faster than I ever was,” said Thomas.

They run together in the morning, bike to campus then set off on their separate work schedules. Thomas and Sarah both are dedicated to their work, but they still find time to lunch together once a week and talk about their research. The couple even managed to publish a paper together.

“It’s sort of romantic and geeky at the same time,” said Sarah.

When Thomas had a project concerning Latin American political parties, Sarah had new ideas about how to approach the problem: she chimed in and helped with producing the paper.

“We’re both scientists, so we talk about work a lot,” said Thomas. “We joked about how fun it would be to publish something by Mustillo and Mustillo. Then, we put this thing together and it actually got published.”

After a day on campus, the couple can be found running back home to their three kids and their activities.

“We’re running (in) so many different directions, so it’s really nice to run together,” said Sarah.

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