Brought to you by the Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) of the Melbourne Regional Chamber of East Central Florida
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” This quote from Gandhi is how Paul Hayes, Jr. and Aleshia Panbamrung try to live their lives. The couple has personally experienced the same type of pay-it-forward generosity they admire. Thanks to local businesses and individuals, the two will have an expense-paid wedding on February 29 in conjunction with the launch of SensationalFloridaWeddings.com.
“When we decided to throw a wedding reception to launch our new website, our Visitor’s Bureau thought it would be a shame to have the celebration without a real wedding to commemorate it,” said Christine Michaels, Melbourne Regional Chamber President and CEO. “So we put out the word that we were looking for a local couple who would let us share their day. We found Aleshia and Paul through the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base. We heard their story, and then, miraculously, our local CVB members started offering up their services to the couple to give them the wedding of their dreams.”
Paul is an Air Force Captain and former enlisted Marine (deployed member of the Marine Corps boxing team), and a veteran of Afghanistan. He is currently the Director of Equal Opportunity for the 920th RQW at Patrick Air Force Base. Aleshia is a research associate for TeachLivE, a virtual reality classroom simulation at the Institute for Simulation and Training in Orlando. The couple met while in grad school at Purdue University in Indiana. They both attained their Master’s but didn’t get enough of school, or each other, as they are both working toward their PhDs, doing joint consulting and teaching online together.
The couple, who live in Melbourne, moved here in 2010 when Paul was offered the position at the 920th. Aleshia says, “I started looking for a position so that I could come with him. I found one teaching and doing research at UCF. I flew between here and Indiana at least once a week for the three and a half months, staying two to three nights at a time in hotels around Melbourne, Cocoa, and Orlando on the nights I taught.”
Determination and sacrifice has been par for the course. Paul was an enlisted Marine for Data Communication in Okinawa. He tried out for the Boxing Team and won. He travelled the world representing America as a boxer for the Marine Corps, having dinner with local politicians and civic leaders. He left the corps after his four years were up to go to college. Paul entered the Air Force because he wanted to serve in the Air National Guard in college. Aleshia proudly says, “After 9/11 he was scheduled for activation, so to complete his school in time, he took seven courses (21 credit hours) so he could graduate before leaving. He graduated and went to Afghanistan. When he returned he was selected to be an officer.”
Between the academic professional endeavors, Paul and Aleshia love travel, fine dining, wine tasting, and dancing. They aspire to visit most of the countries in the world, but prefer the warmer climates. They are also strong advocates of maintaining a well-rounded healthy lifestyle that includes overall fitness of mind, body, and spirit. The biggest challenge for them is being far from their families in Indiana with whom they are very close.
When asked what they appreciate most about each other, Aleshia quickly replied, “We are matched in both our similarities and our differences. We complement one another. Paul says we are sound and fury…..but sometimes he is the sound and I am the fury….sometimes I am the sound and he is the fury. We are both civic minded but also really enjoy the finer things in life. We are hard working but balance that with very engaging “play.”
Because of the limited budgets of being graduate students, they have delayed their wedding but are very grateful for the outpouring of support from the community. “We appreciate the fact that we can both make contributions to our careers; we are both dedicated to one another and family, but we understand the idea of delayed gratification and are willing to work hard and be patient to achieve our goals,” Aleshia said.
Local contributions to make the couple’s wedding day a reality amount to almost $10,000. Businesses supporting the wedding include: Creative Events -personal wedding planning; Hilton Melbourne Beach Oceanfront -deck for wedding and food allowance for reception; Wesche Jewelers – wedding bands; DJ Shane Entertainment – reception music; Meredith’s Bridal Wear – allowance toward bridal wear and tuxedo rentals; Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place – Honeymoon Suite, shuttle service between both Hiltons for ceremony; CC Video – videotaping wedding ceremony & well-wishing ceremony; Amanda Stratford Photography – four hours of wedding coverage; Roses Are Red – bridal bouquet and bridal party flowers; Duran Golf Club – foursome golf outing or next day brunch for wedding party; Sarah Jackson with Jean Paul’s salon – hair styling for bride and two attendants; Rachel Larralde make-up for bride and two attendants; Pastor Tim McClure – officiating ceremony and a pre-marital session if desired; Florida Tech – Site for engagement pictures and gift basket; SueAnn’s Bakery – wedding cake; Crowne Plaza – rehearsal breakfast; Nikki Copelin, Music Minister for Promiseland Church – piano music; Meehan’s Office Supplies – guest book, pen & holder; and Studio99 Creative – engagement photo shoot.
Additional background on Aleshia and Paul:
As a doctoral student in global leadership, Paul has worked to provide applied research into how leadership is communicated, particularly in an online environment. Cultivating perspectives from online faculty, course
development, and student, Paul’s research has culminated to the point of manifesting/ communicating leadership through Computer Mediated Communication (CMC). Among the courses he has designed, instructed and co-instructed are Public Speaking, Culture in Media, and Interpersonal Communication. Paul has instructed at Ivy Tech State College and at Indiana Purdue University Fort Wayne.
A doctoral student in the Modeling and Simulation program at the University of Central Florida (UCF), Aleshia has researched nonverbal implicit communication for Human Robot Interaction, assessment of educational simulation systems, such as TeachLivE and the New York World’s Fair STEM games, and usability analysis and efficacy assessment of emerging educational gaming platforms. She has taught communication for the UCF Nicholson School of Communication, Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne, Brevard County Community College, Huntington College, and Ivy Tech State College.