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A Valentine’s Day Trio Of Penn State Love Stories

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The day that we celebrate love is here, much to the delight of any business that sells flowers, chocolate, or greeting cards. In honor of the holiday, we parsed through plenty of touching Penn State love stories and settled on three of the best.

From a romance ignited by a missing dorm key to a White Out wedding, Penn State love stories come in all shapes and sizes.

So enjoy your day after Valentine’s Day with a little help from these stories.

A Knight in Shining Armor

Stephanie Stama was walking to class from her dorm room in Sproul Hall as a freshman at Penn State back in 2004. She suddenly realized that her room key was missing (and her roommate was leaving town for the weekend shortly). Stama began to debate whether she should head back to her dorm and end up being late for class, or risk being locked out of her room for the weekend.

That’s when she saw Tip, a friend of a friend, who agreed to go to her dorm to find the key for her while she went to class. He was her “knight in shining armor,” and she gave him a kiss on the cheek before running off toward Chambers Building.

“Apparently he paused for a minute afterward in shock with hearts in his eyes and birdies tweeting around his head,” she said. “He has always said that was the moment he knew we were meant to be together.”

They started dating a month later, and continued dating after college despite being in different states. They later moved to Florida, where she studied to get a Master’s degree while Tip drove three hours a day to and from work so that the couple could stay together.

When Stephanie needed an internship during her final year as a psychology doctoral student, she applied to Penn State. “We desperately wanted to go back to State College where we could eventually raise a family,” she said. She got the internship, was later asked to stay at Penn State for another year where she works as a therapist at Counseling and Psychological Services. They married in 2015 after 11 years together and now live in State College.

“My husband, Tip, is my favorite person in the entire world. We have been through some ups and downs all up and down the coast, but we returned home and cannot imagine life any other way,” she said. “And I can’t imagine life without him in it.”

As for the room key, it was in her bag all along, and Tip forgave her for sending him on a fool’s errand.

The White Out Wedding

Christina Runkle took a semester off to relax and back some money in the winter of 2010, taking a job at the TGI Friday’s on North Atherton Street. The Millennium Science Complex was being constructed on campus at that time, and the steel workers would walk across the street from their hotel to her restaurant most nights.

She got to know a lot of the workers, and one night they “begged” her to go the Phyrst with them after her shift for some drinks. Christina made her way to the bar, where she spotted one of the workers, a guy named Cole, who she said “happened to be gorgeous — a perfect 10!”

They had a conversation that nearly lasted until the bar closed, and she gave him her number when they met again at TGI Friday’s the following evening. Christina and Cole ended up hanging out almost every day, but eventually the construction company decided to send him home, back to York, Pa.

“He stayed with me for the weekend and on Sunday when he was leaving I was bawling my eyes out,” she said. “I figured that I would never see him again and spent the next week licking my wounds.”

Just when Christina thought she was getting over him, Cole gave her a call. They started up a relationship and travelled to see each other whenever they could. She moved in with him by August of 2010 and they eloped on Oct. 30 with a wedding that any Penn Stater would be lucky to have.

Dressed in jeans and their White Out gear, Christina and Cole held a ceremony at the Arboretum with mayor Elizabeth Goreham presiding over the ceremony. They went straight from the wedding to a tailgate where friends had a homemade wedding cake and champagne. And best of all — the newly married couple ventured into Beaver Stadium for a 41-31 White Out victory over Michigan.

A Tale of Bagels and Diamonds

Gretchen Harrison was on her way to work at State College’s most popular bagel shop — Irving’s — when her boyfriend of three years showed up for a surprise visit. He was serving in the Navy, stationed in Connecticut, at the time.

Bradley walked her to work and decided to take a stroll around, and unbeknownst to his girlfriend, he stopped at Kranich’s Jewelers just a few blocks down the road. He had been researching diamonds and went in the store to further his research, but spotted the perfect ring.

“He bought it on the spot, having no idea what my ring size even was,” Gretchen said. “While I was serving up the best espresso in town, he was just a few blocks away making a huge life decision.”

He hid the ring from her for the entire weekend, and continued to hide it for the following two months. Bradley approached his future father-in-law during Thanksgiving to show him the ring and ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage. (The response: “You’re sure you want her!?”)

Gretchen graduated shortly before Christmas and Bradley proposed on Christmas Eve. “I said yes. The rest is history — and it all began in Happy Valley,” she said.

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About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.

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