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How Did Penn Staters Fall In Love?

It’s a tale as old as time. Sometimes finding love on a college campus can be pretty difficult. Especially at Penn State, we’ve all heard countless horror stories about the dating scene.

In the spirit of love, we asked folks to send in their success stories and how they ended up falling in love at Penn State. The stories ranged in both basis and timing, but they all prove that it’s indeed possible.

Whether these stories feed your delusion or the advice from the older and wiser Nittany Lions brings you back down to earth, you might find the hope you were looking for.

Shelly Karver

Shelly Karver’s love story began on September 11, 1990.

“We were celebrating a birthday in Brumbaugh Hall. He knocked on the door to get class notes from the birthday girl. Her roommate invited him in for cake and Creamery ice cream. We had to finish all of the ice cream before it melted because the micro-fridges were smaller in those days. He picked up a spoon and joined the group,” she said.

After staying friends for three years, the pair eventually started dating. He popped the question at Arts Fest, and the couple was married in 1999. In true Penn State fashion, they raised their own Nittany Lion pack. Their oldest son is a senior studying mechanical engineering and on the Formula SAE team. She hopes her youngest child will join in on the fun this fall.

Karver’s advice for those looking for love is simple: “Make friends. You don’t know what will happen from there!”

Jill Helmer

Jill Helmer’s 1991 love story is one of Greek life’s dreams.

“I met my husband Chad when he was my best friend’s date to a sorority function. He would attend three dated functions with her during college, and each time, he would make me laugh and ignore my own date,” she said.

The two found each other postgrad when they ended up at a mutual friend’s wedding.

“We dated for five years, attending loads of Penn State weddings and football games. He proposed on the steps of Old Main on Christmas Eve in 1999. We were married the following September at State College Presbyterian and had a great reception at the Nittany Lion Inn, complete with a halftime show from John ‘The Baton’ Mitchell and surrounded by much PSU love.”

The couple raised three children who bleed blue and white, one of whom is currently a freshman at University Park.

Helmer has a few tips for those in love: “Love might be right in front of you, and you don’t know it. Pay attention to the person who makes you laugh and who you love to talk to. And stay in touch… You never know when romance might bloom with someone you met your sophomore year!”

Richard Smeltzer

Richard Smeltzer, one of Onward State’s very own, contributed a 2019 dating app success story.

“Molly and I met each other on Hinge, it was only my second day since moving up to main campus. We had our first date at Green Bowl downtown, and thankfully she liked me enough to keep talking to me. She was willing to put up with the heavy and stressful life of dating an Onward State writer (see last two paragraphs of my senior column), and I helped her out however I could during her architectural engineering thesis,” he said.

After a stretch of dating, the pair is engaged and living in Washington, D.C. They have plans to wed in October 2025 and couldn’t be happier

Smeltzer’s advice is poignant in today’s world: “Don’t waste you or others’ time. Be upfront with what you want and try to find someone who aligns. If you have to fake it, you’re never gonna make it.”

Katie Luksa

Blue Band love lasts the test of time.

“I met my now fiancé in the Penn State Blue Band when he was the Drum Major two years ago. We were set up on a date by a mutual friend and knew we were meant for each other,” Luksa said.

The two lovebirds completed four years in the Blue Band together and actively work with the Alumni Blue Band.

“We ate Chick-fil-A in the parking lot by the Katz Law building for our first date.”

If it worked for Luksa, it may just work for you. The pair got engaged in the Arboretum on September 1, 2023, and are planning a spring 2025 wedding there.

Short and sweet, Luksa said it well: “Love shows up when and where you least expect it.”


This love story began last spring and is one that will fuel anyone currently being rejected.

“When I met my partner, I wasn’t looking for anything — I told myself I was going to stay single throughout college and focus on my studies,” Syd said.

The two became friends at work and eventually started hanging out and grew close.

“She eventually confessed her feelings for me, and I may have rejected her for a total of three days. But, I couldn’t stop myself from seeing what could happen between us.”

The pair started dating and are coming up on their one-year anniversary. They couldn’t be more thankful for each other.

Syd’s advice hits home for a lot of folks: “Sometimes you find love when and where you least expect it. Find someone who makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. If they make you feel like, even for a moment, you aren’t worthy of unconditional love, it’s not you, it’s them. Love on, Penn State!”

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About the Author

Ally Eaton

Ally is a freshman public relations major from York, Pennsylvania and is one of Onward State's social media editors. She gets to write awesome feature stories and create epic content for our social media pages. Ally is a lover of country music and Trader Joe's. If you'd like to discuss March Madness or your most creative coffee order, feel free to contact her on Twitter @allyeaton31 or in her inbox [email protected].

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