#NinerLove: Love Conquers a Pandemic

Ryan Haines and Sarah Tozer
Wednesday, February 17, 2021

BY: JENNIFER HOWE, UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS

Ryan Haines ‘16, ‘20 and Sarah Tozer ‘19 were planning a destination wedding in St. Maarten for April 5, 2021. St. Maarten means a lot to the young couple. That is where they went on their first vacation together and it is where they said “I love you,” for the first time. 

However, the COVID-19 pandemic led Ryan and Sarah to delay their wedding ceremony a few months. “This was a really difficult decision,” said Ryan. “We don’t want to risk anyone getting sick; especially not our older family members, or friends who work with children with special needs.” They hope by July their family members will have received the vaccine and will be able to travel. 

But, Ryan and Sarah are not letting the pandemic delay the start of their married lives. They were officially married on February 12, 2021 at the Cabarrus County Courthouse.

“WE FIGURED THAT VALENTINE’S DAY WEEKEND IS A GREAT TIME TO CELEBRATE LOVE AND COMMITMENT,” SAID RYAN.


Their love story started on campus. Sarah transferred into UNC Charlotte from the UK and immediately got connected to Kappa Delta. Her sorority sisters were friends with the guys in Phi Delta Theta, Ryan’s fraternity. Sarah thought Ryan was cute, and started flirting with him. She went as far as taking a button off his backpack, giving her an excuse to get his number. They haven’t looked back since.

Ryan proposed to Sarah in November 2019, five years after they started dating. It was a surprise. While she was out with a friend, he decorated the backyard of their new house. She arrived home to find close friends and Ryan, with an engagement ring, and their dog, Jack, wore a bandana that said “my humans are getting married. Ryan was pretty confident she would say yes.

“RYAN IS MY ROCK,” SAID SARAH. “HE IS STEADY, CARING, AND HARDWORKING AND HAS BEEN MY CONSTANT SINCE I MOVED ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND MET HIM.”


“I love the amount Sarah cares,” said Ryan. 

“BEING A TEACHER SHE GIVES HER ENTIRE HEART TO HER STUDENTS. SHE ALSO GIVES EVERYTHING SHE CAN IN HER RELATIONSHIPS.”


Ryan and Sarah share so much, including a genuine love for UNC Charlotte. As students, they found a way to make such a large university feel so small. “I definitely found my ‘people,’ even out of a group of nearly 30,000 students,” Sarah said. “And I still keep up with many of my undergraduate professors today.”

Sarah is currently working on a master’s degree in special education and child development at UNC Charlotte and is completing research on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on families of young exceptional children. She is also an exceptional children’s preschool teacher for children ages 3 and 4 diagnosed with Autism at McKnight Child Development Center in Kannapolis, NC. Sarah was the recipient of the 2020 Katherine McCartan Award, given by the Division for Early Childhood.

Ryan is a project manager for the mobility team at Wells Fargo. He serves as president-elect for the UNC Charlotte Young Alumni Chapter and is the chapter advisory board chairman for UNC Charlotte’s chapter of Phi Delta Theta. 

Sarah received a bachelor’s degree in child and family development from the Cato College of Education in 2019. Ryan received a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2016 and a masters’ degree in information technologyin 2020, both from the College of Computing and Informatics.