Bakery student celebrates engagement as boyfriend proposes on stage at UCB graduation
A University College Birmingham student had double cause for celebration on her graduation day – after her boyfriend amazed her by proposing on stage at the ceremony.
Mariya Bozhkova was receiving her FdSc Bakery and Patisserie Technology at the College of Food and Hospitality Management ceremony on Monday when she was greeted on stage by her partner Miroslav Donchev, who stunned her by getting down on one knee and presenting her with an engagement ring.
And in front of friends and family in a packed crowd at Birmingham's Symphony Hall, a visibly gobsmacked Mariya gladly accepted, sending the entire room into rapturous applause.
"I feel like I'm the happiest person in the whole world right now," she said. "I was so shocked, I hadn't expected it. It was like in the movies.
"My first thoughts when I saw him on the stage were like 'what is he doing here?' And then I saw the box!"
The couple had previously joked about tying the knot, while Mariya had even made jokes about it with her friends on the morning of the ceremony – blissfully unaware of what her soon-to-be-fiancé had already planned for her later that day.
"I had the plan of proposing to her on her graduation day but I wasn't sure how exactly I was going to do it, whether it would be before, during or after the ceremony," explained Miroslav. "I saw her turn was coming up and I thought 'it's now or never!'"
Having secretly plotted to collect the engagement ring from Mariya's dad in the audience – and with a little help from University staff and a manager at the venue – Miroslav raced to the door by the Symphony Hall stage in time to meet his future wife.
"I walked over, dropped on one knee and the crowd just exploded," he said. "Everyone started screaming and whistling, it was very loud."
The duo, who are both originally from Bulgaria, also shared their special moment with an online audience watching the ceremony on UCB's graduation livestream – including many of their family and friends abroad.
It was the perfect end to life at the University for Mariya, who moved to Birmingham from the Bulgarian capital of Sofia in order to pursue her passion for baking at UCB.
Having first met Miroslav online, the two later decided to meet in person at a restaurant in the city and their relationship quickly blossomed.
And Mariya, who now works as a cake decorator for a firm near the couple's home in Yardley, was also supported and encouraged throughout her studies by her husband-to-be.
"I was like her study buddy at home," said Miroslav. "I would sit down and study along with her and urge her to progress further.
"I kept on pushing her and pushing her – she hated me for it at the time, but she's grateful for that now!"
Mariya revealed how she had faced challenges in her early days adjusting to life as an international student in Birmingham, but had received support from her lecturers and UCB's Academic Skills Centre (ASC) to help her succeed.
"The ASC and the lecturers, every time I had a question, I would go to them and ask if they could explain things to me, and they would explain in the simplest way possible so I could understand them," she said.
"I love all of my teachers here, they've given me so much support."
The couple have yet to fix a date for their wedding, but after a life-changing time at UCB, Mariya is now making exciting plans for the future.
"Four years ago, if someone had come to me and told me 'you're going to go to England, you're going to study, get a boyfriend, and then on your graduation day you're going to be proposed to, I would seriously laugh!" she said.
"He's like my best friend, and now he's my fiancé as well – what more could I ask for!"
Congratulations to Mariya and Miroslav from everyone at UCB!
Watch the magic moment in our video above – you can also watch a full replay of all the UCB graduation ceremonies on our YouTube page.