Pomona students and their visiting parents circled around the Smith Campus Center (SCC) courtyard at 5:20 p.m. Feb. 18 to
witness a thrilling marriage proposal: Jason Howie PO ’03, Academic Skills Coordinator at the Claremont University Consortium (CUC) Office of Black Student Affairs (OBSA) and Pomona alumnus, arranged for a “Thriller” flash mob
to prelude his marriage proposal to Jana Sims PO ’07. At 5 p.m., the students
organizing the dance announced the plan to unsuspecting families milling around
the SCC and encouraged anyone who knew the moves to join in when the music
began. By 5:15 p.m., a large audience had formed in curious anticipation and when
the first creaking chords finally sounded out over the courtyard, the dancers
emerged from within the crowd and stumbled into a dancing zombie mass in front
of the unsuspecting bride-to-be.
“I chose ‘Thriller’ because I wanted
her to be thoroughly distracted,” Howie said. Howie had brought Sims to campus
on the pretext of seeing a play. He designed the flash mob as a diversion while
he changed into a suit and tie to prepare for the proposal.
“She believed that everybody knew
the dance moves to ‘Thriller’… and I said not everybody knows moves… this
back and forth had been going on for maybe a year,” Howie said.
Howie organized the student dancers,
crafted the story of the play tickets and arranged for some of Sims’s friends
and family to watch from the balcony.
When the music started, Howie rushed
to change into his suit and tie.
“I don’t know if it was the version, but it
seemed like everything moved so much faster,” said Howie. “The song is supposed
to be four and a half minutes, but it felt like thirty seconds… I had barely
gotten on my shirt before ‘Remember the Times’ started, the song I was trying
to propose to.”
Howie made it just in time, and fell
to one knee in front of Sims. Most onlookers couldn’t hear the exchange over
the music, but an immediate embrace signaled that Sims had accepted.
“We’ve been together for four and a
half years now, and it’s exciting to have done it in such a memorable way,” Howie
said of the proposal.
Sims and Howie met at a Claremont Colleges mixer in
Los Angeles at the beginning of the summer of 2007.
“I met her and I was just taken aback. I
had never seen her before… she’s very beautiful,” Howie said. “We didn’t cross paths while I was
here [at Pomona], but I have this memory… I remember a prospie during my last year here
on campus, and I think it was her, but I’m not sure.”
Howie is thankful to all the
students who participated in the flash mob.
“When the students heard about it
here at OBSA, they got so excited and they delved into it,” he said.
Seanna Cadé Leath PO ’13 was one of the
main student organizers.
“Once I decided I was going to do it, I was practicing ‘Thriller’
for hours,” Leath said. “I really appreciate and respect [Howie] as a staff member
at OBSA, so I felt committed to doing it.”
a few minor glitches, Leath thinks the dance went as hoped.
“I think the most
important thing was that she said yes… which she totally did… and I even saw
a tear or two at the corner of [Howie’s] eye,” Leath said. “[Howie’s] one of our newest OBSA family members, so I think it was a great way to start his first year
here. He’s a great guy, and I know that it was because of his connections with students here that so many came out to show support, even if they didn’t
Howie and Sims will almost
definitely have the wedding at Pomona, with the service in Little Bridges and a
reception in Edmunds Ballroom.
“Pomona has a lot to offer,” Howie