At a school large as Penn State, pure chance often determines many of the people you’ll meet during your journey in Happy Valley. For Nicole and Kenny, a fateful meeting during their first day on campus eventually led them to find love in an unexpected way.
Nicole arrived on campus her freshman year to take part in Schreyer Honors Orientation (SHO Time). The program paired her with fellow freshman Kenny to serve as each other’s “First College Buddies.” Though they did activities together as part of the program, Nicole and Kenny didn’t speak very often once orientation ended.
The freshmen eventually went their separate ways, but they happened to share the same Theater 100 class during their first semester on campus. Nicole and Kenny took notice in each other during class, but nothing else came of the interaction. It wasn’t until the next semester that an invitation to attend a campus event would change their relationship forever.
“In the spring semester of our freshman year, I was in the student center making arts and crafts one Friday night when Kenny came into my life once more,” Nicole said. “My hands were covered in paint and I was talking with my friend, when out-of-the-blue Kenny and his friends asked me to come to a ballroom dance with them.”
Nicole usually would have been hesitant to go to such an event. Knowing they had nothing to lose, however, she and her friend decided to tag along for the night.
“I cannot dance, I am quite shy, and I am not spontaneous,” Nicole said. “So I said yes!”
The group had a great time at the event, and Nicole was surprised at how much she enjoyed herself. Long after her friend went home, Nicole decided to keep hanging out with Kenny and his friends. At the end of the night, it was obvious that Kenny wanted to hang out with Nicole again sometime.
“I ended up going out to pizza with the guys after, and Kenny asked for my number,” Nicole said.
A few weeks later, Kenny asked Nicole on their first real date. The pair went out to dinner and grabbed ice cream at the creamery, and they even decided to attend another ballroom dance. In fact, they frequently blew off studying for their spring finals just to go on more dates. But the arrival of summer soon brought a halt in their growing relationship.
“…it was summer, and our budding romance was put on hold.” Nicole said. “Kenny and I texted and called each other, writing letters throughout the summer.”
By the time Nicole and Kenny were about to head back to Happy Valley for sophomore year, the distance confirmed the strength of their feelings for each other. The two students were both hesitant to make the next move, as they didn’t want to ruin something great. But one day that semester, the pair finally decided to make their relationship official.
“However, Kenny and I were both a bit nervous and shy, so we went to the duck pond on campus… and I kissed him,” Nicole said. “He asked me to be his girlfriend, and the rest is history.”
Nicole and Kenny have enjoyed their time in Happy Valley by each other’s side, and they will both graduate from Penn State this spring. However, the couple will stay in State College to pursue their doctoral degrees. The couple got engaged in August and will have their wedding at the Arboretum this summer.
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