Brandi "Elle" Hallinan
by Eric R. Pace
The first day I met her, Elle told me about the businesses she planned to own, places she intended to see, and things she would accomplish. These weren't just lofty dreams, but her life plans. I was struck then, just as I am today, that someone so youthful and beautiful and sincere and gentle and sweet could also be so audaciously bold and unafraid -- unconstrained by society's limitations. To me, she was an enigma, the type of person that only exists in fiction.
Elle was born and raised in Lubbock, a small college town just south of the Panhandle in West Texas. (For those that haven't been to Lubbock, let me give you the run down: Texas Tech, dirt, wind, dust storms, wind mills, more dirt, tumbleweeds, largest contiguous cotton-growing region in the world, dust in your eyes, dust in your car, dust in your clothes, and Buddy Holly.)
As is the case with most gorgeous models, Elle remembers herself as both "tomboy" and a "dork." The evidence reflects some truth to this assessment. Instead of the stereotypical "girl activities," Elle pursued and excelled in a litany of sports: basketball, karate, volleyball, track & field, and so forth. She particularly excelled at basketball and free throw contests, and these endeavors kept her bedroom overrun with trophies and memorabilia. When she didn't make the cut at her high school's cheerleader tryouts, Elle gladly put her energy into the spelling team and student council. She won numerous Texas Hold'em Poker tournaments as a teenager, much to the chagrin of her father's cadre of all-male, middle-aged cardsharks.
Much of Elle's character is reflected in her family. Elle's generous nature, work ethic, independence, and statuesque physique are all gifts borne from her mother, Bonnie. From her father David, she gained a keen business sense, entrepreneurship, loyalty, and sensibility. And six Aunts, all in Lubbock, afforded Elle a network of unconditional love and support.
Elle's older sister, Kim, is an independent overachiever that has staked out her own path in life. She left home just days after her 18th birthday to attend the Univ. of Texas, and hasn't slowed since. Elle's younger half-sister, Brittany, is one of the most unassuming, good-natured young women you'll ever have the pleasure to meet. She's the captain of her high school cheerleading squad -- not because of any particular athletic ability (as she'll readily admit), but because of her sincere and affable personality. Kim, Elle, and Brittany are the type of good-natured, hard-working, sensible women that are indigenous to small-town, Texas.
As high school drew to a close, Elle hoped to attend Baylor Univ. because it offered a unique entrepreneurial business program. But with Baylor's exorbitant tuition, Elle ultimately decided to stay in Lubbock for her first two-years of college. She supported herself and saved money by working full-time as a waitress and maintained an "A" GPA. It was at this juncture that I had the great fortune to meet this most perfect gem of womankind, who effortlessly shared her audacious goals and plans with me.
After I finished law school, Elle didn't hesitate to pack her bags and strike out on her own. She transferred to the Univ. of Texas at Austin, and once again, maintained straight "A"s despite working full-time as a waitress and a model.
In sum, Elle is a West Texas enigma -- a duality of small-town sensibilities and enterprising womanhood. She remains steadfastly loyal to her family and her Texas roots, yet she is unbounded and unafraid to pursue her goals. Her plans have changed and evolved since the first day we met, and I'm extraordinarily fortunate and thankful that she changed them to include me.
Eric Ryan Pace
by Elle Hallinan
Eric grew up in a suburb of the DFW metroplex in a town called Cedar Hill. The oldest of six children, Eric is a natural leader and possesses an unshakeable sense of determination.
While still in high school, Eric knew he wanted continue his education, but he didn't have the resources to go to college. During his junior year at Cedar Hill High School, Eric made the decision to enlist in the U.S. Navy after graduation. He not only saw this as a way to finance his college education, but as a way to serve a cause greater than himself.
Enlisting in the Navy brought many challenges, but Eric will say that it changed him for the better. The experience helped him further develop his sense of determination and resilience. It refined many of his best characteristics, especially his leadership skills, and he focused even more on achieving his goals. During his first six years of active duty service, Eric quickly rose through the ranks to an E-6 and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Though on his way to becoming a non-commissioned officer, Eric left the Navy to finally attend college.
Eric completed his degree in Economics in just 2.5 years at the University of Texas at Arlington. But he wasn't finished there. He went on to attend Texas Tech University Law School where he earned an MBA and law degree.
Though Eric doesn't plan on ever practicing law as an attorney, he often says that law school is the best decision he ever made because it brought him to me (cheesy, but I melt when he says this). Eric now works as an analyst on the Pentagon's Air Staff, and talks as if he'll be the Secretary of Defense someday. With his headstrong nature and his ability to always see the big picture, I have confidence that Eric will achieve anything he sets his mind to.