Penn State Love Stories: A Connection Formed Just In Time
On a crisp autumn evening in State College, the air is filled with the aroma of savory spices and the joy of finally reuniting with last semester’s pals. A soft breeze kisses your skin, and there’s just enough of a chill in the air to remind you to savor the last bit of warm weather while you can. These are nights to cherish as an undergrad.
As enjoyable as these evenings on campus may be, one rarely anticipates them to be life-changing. But that moment of change happened for Elana Weinstein and Kenneth Brownstein, and it happened just in time.
It was the night of Penn State Hillel’s annual fall hayride. While freshman Weinstein had joined the organization only recently and had yet to experience a Penn State dated function, it was the last Hayride for Brownstein before graduation. Despite their vastly different stages in life, when the two met for the first time that evening, the spark was instantaneous.
Weinstein and Brownstein shared far more than a university and membership in the same organization. In fact, pure coincidence left the two undergrads with enough conversation to last the entire night.
“Our dads were actually fraternity brothers in AEPi back in the ‘70s,” Weinstein said.
The pair spent the majority of the year getting to know each other during their time spent in Hillel. From various club activities to weekend canning trips, their relationship blossomed through a shared involvement with THON.
“Ken was the THON chairperson for Hillel, which I took over once he graduated in 2001,” Weinstein said.
Brownstein’s graduation left the pair with a test — a test that meant three years of routinely traveling back and forth between State College and Bala Cynwyd for visits. But the couple’s connection remained so strong that nothing could break the bond.
When Weinstein finally celebrated her own graduation in 2004, her move to Philadelphia sparked a milestone in the relationship the couple had been waiting for. On February 18, 2005, Brownstein got down on one knee in the same town that had united the two years ago.
“It was only fitting that Ken proposed at the sundial in front of Old Main right before THON 2005 began,” Weinstein said.
The pair spent the following year planning the wedding of their dreams. From decorations to music, the entire ceremony was planned out to a tee — or so they thought. Weinstein’s relatives ensured the evening wouldn’t go without its fair share of surprises.
“My brother Josh (who had recently begun attending the University of Michigan and whom we referred to as a traitor) joined the band and began playing the Penn state fight song on the trumpet. [This happened] right as the Nittany Lion (my uncle Mark) came out on the dance floor,” Weinstein said. “It was an amazing surprise!”
The couple will celebrate their 10th anniversary this weekend when Penn State plays Kent State at the first home game of the season. Wherever they are, they take comfort in the fact that they always have a home in Happy Valley.