By Cathyrn Cavazos Sterling, Kansas — Wednesday, March 28, 11:10 A.M.
At Sterling College, there are three things that someone might be told when they walk onto campus for the first time as a freshman. “Jesus loves you,” “Beware of the soccer house,” and “Be prepared for a ‘ring by spring.’”
“Ring by spring” (meaning “getting engaged before the spring semester is over”) is a popular saying among the students of Sterling. To many, it’s just good fun, but others have embraced the term, whether they meant to or not, and have gotten engaged themselves.
The newest couple on campus to make the promise is junior Mikaela Wells and senior Brett Couture, who got engaged over spring break on Friday, March 16. Other couples on campus include: senior Olivia Dunning and junior Blaine Ducote, seniors Britt Bowman and Chris Green, senior Ricky Nichols and junior Chelsey Riffel, and seniors Michael Winstead and Cassandra Estrada.
Dunning, who is getting married in May, said that her fiancé took her to a “beautiful” rose garden with a fountain in the middle of it and proposed back in October. “He’s given me a rose for every significant event in our relationship, such as our one year anniversary and my birthday, so he proposed on the ‘Cinderella’ bridge while we were surrounded by tons of gorgeous roses.” Dunning said that she knew that he was going to propose, but the way he asked her was a complete surprise.
Young marriages are not uncommon in colleges. According to an article on Business Insider, “28% of all married couples” in the United States met while they were in college. However, it is important to note that the rate of students who meet their spouse in college is significantly higher in religious colleges. According to USA Today, “religious colleges make up a significant proportion of the top 25 “marrying” colleges for both men and women. At Brigham Young University, (a devout Mormon university), for example, about 60% of women and 62% of men attended college with their spouse.”
According to a CNN article talking with college students who are either engaged or married, 20-year old Peter Nesbitt and 19-year old Lana Ritchie, both students at the University of Michigan, were happy with their decision to get engaged, despite what their friends may have thought. “You’re with your best friend all the time, so it’s not like, oh my gosh, it’s a ball and chain now,” he joked. “Yeah, college is stressful, but now you’re getting to share it officially with someone else.”
Bowman said that her and Green personally believe that “a marriage between two Christians is meant to symbolize Christ’s unity with his followers, but I never truly grasped what it meant.” She is now learning what unconditional love in marriage is and how is very much a reflection of the way Christ loves His followers.
“Chris chose me – he wants to be unified with me forever despite seeing all of my nasty selfishness and struggles. He pursued my heart, continues to pursue my heart, and will pursue it forever in marriage. This is exactly what Jesus Christ does for His followers – he chose us, wants to be unified with us forever despite our sins, pursues our heart and will hold our hearts for eternity,” she said.
Dunning said that while she was never specifically looking to find her husband in college, she “can’t imagine life without [Ducote] and wouldn’t want to.”