How couples balance love and academics on campus

Dawson and Taylor dressed up for a night out at a military ball, allowing them to spend time together off campus. // Photo courtesy of Jendayia Taylor

Amidst the constant stride for innovation, service and progress, Tech students find themselves juggling their social and academic lives, prompting the question: what is love like at the Institute? 

This Valentine’s Day, the Technique got to sit down and interview two couples who met at Tech.

The first couple interviewed, Jendayai Taylor, third-year BMED and Kennede Dawson, second-year BME, initially met on Instagram when Taylor noticed she had a new follower alert from someone she did not recognize.

She decided to message Dawson to say hello and was not expecting much from the interaction. However, the two soon became inseparable.

“We officially got together at the end of October 2021. But we’ve been inseparable since the day we met, August 13, 2021,” Taylor said, explaining that the transition from a platonic to a romantic relationship was a quick, but natural progression.

“I FaceTimed her just out of the blue one day. She was doing her hair. And I was making some eggs. And we, from the jump, really clicked, even if it was just through text, so then the conversation transitioned to be more romantic,” Taylor said.

From Dawson’s perspective, she felt dating another Tech student allows them to both be on “the same wavelength,” allowing for greater cohesion in the relationship.

Taylor explained that she has not dated students from other universities, but expressed that Tech’s environment definitely has an impact on relationships.

“Tech is really stressful. And I think the stress of that sometimes infringes on our relationship, like it translates over, unintentionally, because sometimes on campus, we’re a little bit more stressed out. We get into disagreements more frequently [on campus] versus when we’re off campus and relaxed, where it’s like we’re having the best time all the time,” Taylor said.

The couple also explained what they do to ensure the environmental stress does not bleed over into their relationship.

“I think we’re at a point now in our relationship where communication is the biggest thing that we’re having to work on,” Taylor said.

Taylor explained that at one point, the couple used to speak over one another during disagreements, leading to a lack of understanding between the two. Being aware of the issue was the first step.

“Being open, more open, because I’m very reserved with my emotions. A lot of times, I’m like, ‘Oh, I don’t really want to talk about it right now.’”

Taylor also spoke on acknowledging that she and her girlfriend have different styles of communication.

“Whereas with Kenn, it’s like [if something happens], she’s like ‘Let’s talk about it right now, stop what you’re doing.’ But I think just being very open and consistent with our communication is what helped us,” Taylor said.

Dawson added to this sentiment, explaining that taking time to be together off campus is also helpful.

When it came to favorite moments together, Taylor reflected back to a simple memory from when the couple first got together.

“One night we went to the hammocks over by Kendeda. So that’s one of my favorite memories. I really felt like that was one of the first times that we felt connected and bonded. At that point I really started to identify her as my person, like this is somebody like I want to be with,” Taylor said.

Dawson’s favorite moment came after being reunited with Taylor after she had been away for a Field Training Exercise with ROTC.

She explained that she went out, purchased supplies and decorated Taylor’s apartment for her return.

The two wrapped up with each expressing one characteristic they thought was unique to each other.

“Something that I saw in Kenn that I’ve never seen in anyone else that I’ve spoken to or been around is her ambition. Like, she’s gonna get it done to by any means necessary. She’s just always going to get it done, whether that’s a long term goal … or even like small assignments, she’s going to figure out a way and make it happen.” Taylor said.

Complementing each other’s personalities, Dawson said her favorite thing about Taylor was that she was “very gentle … very soft.”

Our second couple Victoria Olaugun, ARCH ‘20 and Ajibayo “Bayo” Adeyeye Ph.D.  ECE ‘22 met on campus back in 2019 after an African Student Association (ASA) meeting. They were both on the executive board and were introduced by a mutual friend. 

They both agreed that the first interaction was largely uneventful; neither of them thought twice about it. However, there was some debate about how things transitioned to become more romantic.

“I put some game on her and it worked, you know,” Adeyeye said.

Olaogun maintained things transitioned when Adeyeye came to a few parties she had at her house later in the year, which gave the two a chance to bond away from Tech.

Either way, the couple is still together three years later. Reflecting on their favorite moments together, Adeyeye, who is an international student from Nigeria, described an emotional moment the couple recently shared during a celebration of his birthday and completion of his Ph.D. program.

“Victoria did this thing where she went to my family members and close friends to record messages for me on video and made it into a compilation to play during the celebration … my grandparents were all there and I was in tears,” Adeyeye said.

Olaogun spoke of a romantic, weekend cabin getaway she planned for the two.

“It was a time where we were both pretty stressed, so it was nice to unwind and just be,” Olaogun said.

When asked about one thing they loved about each other, Adeyeye said he loved how thoughtful Olaogun is.

“She does a lot of things for me that I probably wouldn’t do for myself. Not even just for me, but also other people, friends, family,” Adeyeye said. 

For Olaogun, Adeyeye’s willingness to “always, always, always help,” even in situations where he isn’t explicitly asked, was heartwarming. 

Shifting back to the Institute, both saw advantages in dating other Tech students. Adeyeye said he felt Olaogun was understanding of his busy schedule because she was familiar with the environment, allowing them to be more in-sync.

Similarly to Dawson, Olaogun felt that dating another Techie allowed them to both be on the same wavelength “in terms of what you want out of life. So I think it’s just … might be a little easier to relate to the person.”

Finally, when asked if they had anything else they wished to express, Olaogun joked that “I think Bayo teaches us that we should keep persevering, keep trying, you know? Because he was trying to get with me for years.”