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Penn State Love Stories: A Senior Year Realization

For some couples, it was pretty much love at first sight. But for Mallory Pavilonis and Jonathan Knoll, years went by before they even realized how much potential they had as a couple — and they wouldn’t have their story any other way.

Ironically, the two students first met because their best friends were dating. However, neither Pavilonis nor Knoll thought of each other as much more than mere acquaintances. They would often hang out around the same friends and attend the same social functions, but interaction was limited.

“One time, we both remember I had been passed out on my couch after a hard day of tailgating,” Pavilonis said. “Meanwhile, Jonathan was at my apartment hanging out and kept bugging me to get up and go out with them. My response to him was ‘Who even are you?'”

But for some reason, one special interaction changed everything — and it didn’t happen until spring semester finals were about to begin during senior year. Pavilonis came back to her apartment one night after going to the bars, and a small group was hanging out in the living room. Pavilonis decided to join the circle for a while before going to bed. Even after the rest of the friends trickled out of the apartment, Pavilonis and Knoll stayed back and kept talking for the entire night.

“I decided to stay up and hang out, and Jonathan and I started talking,” Pavilonis said. “Eventually, everyone else went home and we continued to talk and hang out. Before we knew it, it was time for sunrise.”

Pavilonis suddenly remembered something that had always been on her Penn State bucket list — to watch the sunrise on Old Main Lawn. Realizing she had less than one week to do this, Pavilonis decided to bring the idea up to Knoll. Much to her surprise, he agreed to go with her.

One lengthy conversation alone made the two seniors realize how much they had missed out from not taking the time to get to know each other throughout their time at Penn State. And from that moment on, Pavilonis and Knoll haven’t gone one day without speaking.

“Since we had known of each other for three years, naturally we waited until the week before senior year finals to actually get to know each other,” Pavilonis said.

The next day, they had their first ‘unofficial date’ by working out together in the White Building before grabbing lunch at Qdoba. Once they graduated, Knoll relocated to Arizona and they officially began a long distance relationship. A year later, the couple moved in together and even got a dog named Penny — named after both the state and school that brought them together, of course.

Knoll and Pavilonis have now been together for more than three years and got engaged last Christmas Eve.

(Photo: Mallory Pavilonis)

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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 clairefoun[email protected]

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