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A Penn State Engagement, Fraternity Style

Two seniors gave Penn State its own big, fat Greek engagement this weekend. With the help of his friends, family, and fraternity, Chris Burnside proposed to his girlfriend of five years, Priscilla Marsala, on Sunday at the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house. Close friends since middle school, the couple began their relationship during their junior year of high school. In 2011, they started the Penn State chapter of their lives together at University Park.

After asking Marsala’s father for her hand in marriage six weeks ago, Burnside began planning one of the most important days of his life. He wanted to incorporate as many of the couple’s family members and close friends as possible. The duo’s involvement in the Greek community caused Burnside to turn to their chapters for help. Both individuals served on their organizations’ executive boards, Marsala as Panhellenic Delegate for Gamma Phi Beta and Burnside as President for Phi Kappa Tau, and went on to hold positions on the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils.

As for the location, Burnside had no doubt that Phi Kappa Tau was the place he wanted to propose.

“Trying to incorporate Phi Kappa Tau into the proposal is something that I really wanted,” he said. “Both Priscilla and I would agree that our best friends are members of Phi Tau. Since we’ve been together all of college, her personality has rubbed off on the chapter. She was jokingly given the nickname ‘First Lady’ while I served as President and was also elected as our ‘Sweetheart’ this past year.”

Burnside worked hard to plan a memory that would last forever for Marsala. To perfect the moment, he asked family members and friends to guide the path from her apartment to the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house. Each of the 17 individuals gave Marsala a rose and a hand-written promise from Burnside. When she finally reached the porch of the house, Burnside was waiting to read the final promise as a friend played the violin. The last promise came with a lily, Marsala’s favorite flower. Then, Burnside got down on one knee.

Marsala immediately started to cry and, too excited to speak, nodded her head to say “yes.”

In that moment, Burnside said, “I was in state of total happiness for our future together. It felt surreal.”

“Our college years have really helped us grow into our relationship,” Burnside said, noting that Penn State would forever hold a special place in both of their hearts.

About the Author

Alex Calderaro

Alex Calderaro is a junior majoring in Supply Chain Management from Central Jersey. As a first generation Penn Stater, she has found a home here in several places, including her sorority, and, of course, Onward State. You can contact her at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @alexcalderaro.


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