Mike Sixkiller doesn't remember too many details about the Yavapai College Prescott campus from his student days 26 years ago. To this day, though, he vividly recalls everything about the woman – a stranger -- who walked into his dorm room on the second floor of Kachina residence hall.

"I still remember what she was wearing – a green sweater, black jeans and black Adidas," Mike said of that fateful night in December 1994. "She had a lot of rings on and I was playing with them. And even though all of her friends were there with her, she was the one I was focused on. I was interested in her right off the bat."

Mike was reminded of the first time he set eyes on his now wife, Denise, during a late January visit to the Prescott campus with their daughters, Jadan and Asia, and son Kade. Jadan has a college decision to make and her parents would love to see her choose YC. Why? For the small, close-knit campus experience, the Prescott's area's natural beauty and the metaphorical branch the college generated on the Sixkiller family tree.

While Mike describes Denise's after-dinner visit to his dorm room as "miraculous," she recalls it being more of an accident. She said she and her friends had set out to visit Mike's popular roommate, Travis. Mike, she recalled, "was just there. We were making friends. But I never thought I would marry him and have four children. (The Sixkillers have an adult son, Adrian, who attends Arizona State University). I was really shy, very selective and very picky. So it took some time for me to get out of my shell," Denise explained.

Mike, on the other hand, was smitten – attracted to Denise's study habits and maturity. "I was attracted to girls that seemed to have good heads on their shoulders," he said.

Mike recalled trying get Denise to visit him during winter break, to no avail. After break, the budding relationship chilled until Mike decided to take action. He dipped into his scholarship funds to buy a necklace and flowers and showed up at Denise's doorstep on Valentine's Day. "I just showed up to her apartment unannounced," he said, admitting he had been there previously "to eat her bread and cereal."

Denise remembers being "shocked and kind of scared" by Mike's Valentine's Day bravado. "My thoughts were always ‘is this for real, or is he just a player – someone who goes from girl to girl?'"

Nevertheless, Denise agreed to a movie date that night. The movie? Mike remembers. "Heavy Weights." Mike left YC after one year, acknowledging, "I wasn't successful in my first attempt at college." His departure was a "disappointment" for Denise who attended YC for two years and continued her education at Dine' College and at Northern Arizona University where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration. Meanwhile, Mike worked in the Phoenix area and for years, the couple were together off and on – "mostly on," Mike asserted.

"As we got older, we started getting closer and bonding. It took a while to really get serious. My wife would say it took a while for me to grow up," Mike said, laughing at the inside joke.

Mike and Denise married the day after Valentine's Day in 2003. Two years later Mike succeeded in his second college attempt. He earned a bachelor's degree in sociology and later a master's degree in criminal justice from NAU. Today, the couple is raising their family in Tuba City on the Navajo Reservation, where Mike manages the Western Navajo Fair and community events and Denise is an IT specialist for Tuba City Boarding School. Mike also dee jays around the state, something he has been doing since he was a student at YC.

The Sixkillers believe laughter, a shared love of music, travel and parenthood have strengthened their bond. "We just always have a good time. That's how it has always been with us," Denise said. "Being married always has its struggles but you learn to work with each other." This Valentine's Day, because of the pandemic, the Sixkillers plan to celebrate at home with their children. "Normally we would have gone somewhere - to New Orleans, Seattle, somewhere for a music festival," Denise said.

When the pandemic is over, the Sixkillers will hit the road to live-music events again. "We're reliving our college years now," Mike said. "That one old couple you see dancing at the Coachella music festival -- that's us!"