San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec




San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Love at SDSU: Love goes down in an elevator

Love at SDSU: Love goes down in an elevator
Courtesy of the Ilkos

Though San Diego State alumni Janet and Rob Ilko have been married for 25 years, their conversation is so full of sweet banter that one would guess it has been closer to five.

“I went to University of Colorado for two and a half years and then transferred,” Rob said.

“Looking for me, really,” Janet said.

“They didn’t have Tinder back then,” he said. Janet laughed.

The couple met in the spring of 1987. It was the last semester of senior year for both of them.

“I was invited to some ASB event meeting and she was sitting on the floor, and I was sitting in a chair,” Rob said. “I offered to sit on the floor if she wanted to sit in the chair.”

“I said no.”

“She said no.”

Rob thought Janet was cute, but too independent. Janet said she thought Rob was polite.  After the meeting, they continued to see each other on campus.

“(There was) a fraternity brother I would walk down the hill with to go to class,” Rob said. “He would kind of make himself disappear, and then the two of us would be standing there.”

Things really picked up when the two attended a Sigma Pi fraternity ball in Las Vegas that semester, despite the fact that they went with separate dates.

“She kissed me in the elevator.”

“You kissed me in the elevator!”

“In the Caesar’s Palace elevator, she kissed me.”

That marked the beginning of their lives together.  Since then, life has not been anything like what the Ilkos expected.

“Our first date that we went on, he said to me, really serious, ‘What are you going to be doing in 20 years?’ And it scared me.  I was like, ‘Breathing.  I have no idea what I want to do,’” Janet said. “He had this whole life plan, which is nothing like our lives, how it’s turned out.”

After she earned her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies, Janet went on to earn a teaching credential and a master’s degree from SDSU. She has been teaching in the Cajon Valley Union School District for 26 years. Remarkably, this opportunity has allowed her the chance to work with some student teachers from SDSU throughout the years.

Rob has had a different, more varied experience.  He started as a stock broker a few months after he graduated from SDSU with a bachelor’s degree in economics. His repertoire has since expanded to include furthering his education at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, running for city council and working as a general contractor, an attorney and a policeman. Now, he works in property management in addition to being an administrator for a medical practice.

Janet sees their unwavering support for each other as what keeps them together as the years come and go.

“You need to be in love with that person, not their job or their career or their major, because life’s going to change. And be supportive of that person continuing to grow,” she said. “I think that we grew up together, and you have to give each other a lot of room to explore and to grow if you’re going to be successful.”

Today, Rob and Janet remain closely involved with SDSU. They attend Aztec football and basketball games, an experience they have been able to share with their children. They are a part of the SDSU Alumni Association and fraternity alumni.  One of their two children is planning to start pursuing her master’s degree at SDSU soon.

There is no doubt that their lives have changed as a result of meeting each other at SDSU. The jests returned as they recounted Janet agreeing to go out to dinner with Rob for the first time after he sent her flowers and a love note.

“And he followed me ever since,” Janet said.

“You try to keep up,” Rob said.

“That’s true,” Janet said.

About the Contributor
Olivia Litsey
Olivia Litsey, Arts & Lifestyle Editor
Olivia Litsey is a sophomore at SDSU and an economics pre-major with an honors minor in interdisciplinary studies.  She started writing for The Daily Aztec in 2013 and is currently assistant features editor for the features section.
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Love at SDSU: Love goes down in an elevator