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Penn State Love Stories: A Shared Birthday

It’s pretty common for couples to originally meet because of a shared interest — a similar taste in music or membership in the same club are often great ways to meet a future partner. But Penn State alumni Joe and Shannon Carper met due to a pretty unique similarity: their shared birthday.

On October 2, 2013, Joe went to his high school friend’s dorm in North Halls. It was Joe’s 19th birthday and their group of friends had made plans to celebrate that evening. What Joe didn’t know, however, was that Joe’s friend had actually made the same exact plans with Shannon. What he also didn’t know was that his friend had devised the joint birthday celebration because he thought Joe and Shannon would be perfect together.

“His plan seemed to work at first!” Joe said. “I was definitely into Shannon and immediately after she left the room, I asked if I could get her number from him.”

Shortly after, the two students began hanging out together with their mutual friends and even went on a few dates just the two of them. But unfortunately, things fizzled out before they even really began.

“Ultimately, the time wasn’t right, though, and it didn’t work out right away,” Joe said. “Throughout our sophomore year, we would see each other here and there, and we even got dinner a few times, but the timing just never worked out.”

When junior year finally rolled around, the dynamic between the two of them instantly changed. Joe and Shannon found themselves talking more and more, and for reasons unknown to them both, everything was totally different. Joe knew things had suddenly changed when the pair returned home form a party they had attended together.

“I walked her to her apartment, kissed her goodbye, headed home, and immediately texted her to tell her that I had a good time and that I’d like to hang out again,” Joe said. “She agreed and soon after that we made plans to go to a drive-in movie. It was really that night when it became real.”

(Photo: Joe Carper)

On the way home from the movie, the evening took a frightening turn for the worse. Joe hit a deer on their way back to campus and the two of them had to sit on the side of the road for more than an hour waiting for help to arrive.

“I felt like an idiot and that I had blown the chance that I had,” Joe said.

But what began as an embarrassing moment transformed into a turning point in the relationship. During their hour-long wait, Joe and Shannon shared personal stories about both themselves and their families. After getting to know each other on a much deeper level, it wasn’t long before they finally became a real couple. For the first time ever, their timing was spot-on.

(Photo: Joe Carper)

Joe and Shannon got engaged on their birthday in 2016 and eventually married on August 26, 2017. They are expecting a baby in the spring and are forever grateful for the university — and their own day of birth — that brought them together in the first place.


Share your own Penn State love story here.

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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