True RAMances ❤️

Health Administration alum Clif Porter has been featured in a VCU news piece about romances found at VCU, aka RAMances.

Deborah Cartwright Porter and Clif Porter in February 2020 at their daughter's wedding. (Courtesy photo) Deborah had seen Clif around campus, but they never really spoke until one night when she was studying at Cabell Library with a group of people and Clif came up and asked if he could sit at the table.

It was September 1986.

As the evening wore on, Clif asked her if she was hungry and took her to McDonald’s.

He knew “almost immediately after our first conversation” that he wanted to date her. “I remember thinking, ‘She is beautiful and so smart,’” he said.

“That led to him asking me out on our real first date to see ‘Top Gun’ a week later,” Deborah said.

Two things about that first movie date stand out to both of them: Clif was late and some of the steamier scenes between Pete “Maverick" Mitchell and Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood made them a little uncomfortable.

About a month later, Clif realized he had strong feelings for Deborah. “I didn’t want to be apart from her,” he said.

Deborah, though, had cold feet. But she knew he was different when she couldn’t go home to New York for Thanksgiving and he invited her to join his family in Maryland instead. Still, she was graduating the following spring — with a degree in administration of justice — and was hesitant to get into a serious relationship.

“But Clif was persistent,” she said with a laugh. “I told him I was applying for jobs in other states. He told me he loved me and hoped I would stay near. Well, I didn’t get one single job interview out of state. I knew then that this was serious.”

Clif graduated in December 1989, with a degree in health administration and the two married two weeks later.

Today, the Porters call Northern Virginia home and have a daughter and two sons. Deborah is a parent coach and workplace parent consultant. Clif is senior vice president of government relations for the American Healthcare Association. They love VCU — “We often say VCU is ‘home,’ Clif said. “We are fortunate that as a couple we shared that experience. We become 20-somethings whenever we get on Broad Street.” — and remain connected to the university through the Porter Legacy Scholarship, which they established to help students who have demonstrated a commitment to the African American community and are pursuing a B.S. in health services.

“When I was in undergrad, there just weren’t many black men in health administration,” Clif said. “The environment at that time was lonely and there wasn’t much support. We decided to help eliminate the financial stress associated with getting a degree by establishing this scholarship.”

—by Leila Ugincius

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