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Penn State Love Stories: A Twist Of Fate And The Perfect Team

Time often has a funny way of working itself out, playing with our heads and making us wonder what’s coming next. For Kristen Myatt and Nick Gruber, timing and pure coincidence brought them together. But as the story sometimes goes, their journey as a couple didn’t exactly start right away.

On the day before her first classes as a Penn State freshman, Myatt faced the daunting task of navigating one of Penn State’s many orientation programs. She looked all around the giant room of 100 Thomas in order to find her Engineering Orientation Network mentor, but the search effort was to no avail. Discouraged, she went to sit down in an open seat. Little did she know that what she did next would eventually change her life forever.

“I gave up and sat down next to Nick because he just couldn’t stop smiling and seemed nice,” Myatt said. “I said, ‘Hi, I’m lost.’  He said, ‘Yeah, me too.’”

Just moments later, Myatt’s mentor spotted her through the thick crowd — the search was over, and she was whisked away from the friendly face that gave her relief amidst the chaos.

Myatt went on to enjoy her freshman year and, once sophomore year rolled around, decided to become an Engineering Orientation Network mentor herself. At the beginning of the process, the program leaders assigned each new mentor a partner with whom they’d work during the program. When Myatt found out who her partner was, the realization hit that she had seen him before — in fact, it was the same friendly face from her own orientation just a year earlier. Despite not speaking once the entire year before, their friendship blossomed immediately. From their time as mentor partners to a variety of shared engineering-related classes and activities, the two students enjoyed spending a lot of time together.

“We became friends as mentor partners during sophomore year, had a lot of classes together, and sat next to each other a lot,” Myatt said. “We both tried out for engineering ambassadors at the end of sophomore year; I had always wanted to be an engineering ambassador, and I encouraged him to try out too. We both made it!”

As time went on and classes became smaller, Myatt and Gruber shared even more courses together during their junior year. As their bond strengthened, they began to hang out more outside of the classroom, as well. The pair of friends found a new shared interest when they started going to church together at the beginning of the year.

One night, Myatt was relaxing on the lawn of Fenske laboratory. As a junior, coursework had become more difficult and searching for post-college work was a task looming on the horizon. She suddenly asked herself the question that many college students find themselves consumed by: Where am I going, and what’s the path I’m supposed to take? All she wanted was a sign.

Soon after, Gruber spotted her and walked over to join her. His next move was perhaps the very sign she had been looking for. 

“Nick sat next to me and immediately found a 4-leaf clover and gave it to me,” Myatt said.

A few a days later, the two students were hanging out together when Gruber suddenly asked Myatt if she was ready for an adventure. Though she didn’t know what this adventure would entail, she said yes. Gruber then guided her to the same building they sat near just days earlier.

“He took me to the Fenske building and showed me how to climb up the bricks on the outside,” Myatt said. “We sat on the roof and looked at the stars, and he admitted that he liked me.”

Suddenly, everything was different. When Myatt heard his words, she knew she felt the same way. A week later, the dynamic in the relationship changed forever when Gruber and Myatt took a walk to the duck pond on campus. As they stood near the gazebo, Gruber officially asked Myatt to be his girlfriend.

“After we started dating, we would hold hands under the desk as we took notes (I’m left handed, and he’s right handed),” Myatt said. “We would always pick each other as lab partners, and our group projects always went very smoothly.”

The couple enjoyed the rest of their college careers by each other’s side. When they both graduated from Penn State as chemical engineering majors in 2015, Myatt knew she wanted to leave her Philadelphia home so she could be with Gruber. As luck would have it, the two grads were even able to snag a job in the same company in Pittsburgh.

In September, the couple decided to spend some time at the school that brought them together in the first place. During their trip to Penn State, they went to take a walk in the Arboretum and snap some photos. But Gruber had an additional plan in mind.

We got our picture and then I started to walk away,” Myatt said. “He held my hand and said, ‘Wait, one more thing.’” At that moment, Gruber got on one knee and pulled out a beautiful ring embellished with sapphires — the same stones in the ring worn by Myatt’s mother, as well as a representation of how much Penn State means to the couple.

Kristen Myatt and Nick Gruber right after Gruber proposed at Penn State's Arboretum (Photo: Kristen Myatt).
Kristen Myatt and Nick Gruber right after Gruber proposed at Penn State’s Arboretum (Photo: Kristen Myatt).

The couple plans to get married on June 3, 2017, and they couldn’t be happier. No matter what tasks they face, they know it’s always better when they’re together. 

“We make a great team.”

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About the Author

Claire Fountas

Claire Fountas is the student life editor for Onward State, as well as a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and psychology. She lives in a suburb of Chicago and strongly disagrees with anyone who hates the Cubs or the Blackhawks (so, pretty much anyone at Penn State). You can follow her @ClaireFountas or email her at [email protected]

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