Campus couples: Love stories begin at the Institute

McCoy and Propp enjoy a football game in Bobby Dodd Stadium. Since their meet-cute, the pair has been together for four months. // Photo courtesy of Sarah McCoy

The meet-cute is an overly exaggerated and romanticized trope in current media. According to Merriam Webster, the meet-cute is defined as “a cute, charming, or amusing first encounter between romantic partners,” and is a common trope in romantic comedy films. However, does this occurrence exist beyond the screen? Can two people really have that coveted first encounter filled with awkwardness and excitement that leaves one person planning out the next fifty years after a brief, 50-second encounter?

To the disbelief of many, these meet-cutes do happen, and they occur right on Tech’s campus. For Ellie Kate Watson, second-year NEURO, she met her boyfriend at an event for an organization she is a part of and passionate about. 

“Joey came to a philanthropy event called Dance Marathon that Miracle, a philanthropic organization where we raise money for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, hosted in the spring, and we sat next to each other. We got to talking and yeah, he asked me on a date soon thereafter,” Watson said on their initial meeting.

Sometimes, the first encounter may not be as straightforward as it was for Henry Hughey, first-year ME and his girlfriend Emma Heath, first-year ISYE. While meet-cutes are often dramatized on the screen, in real life, they can be as simple as a passing moment between acquaintances. While the couple described being in a happy relationship now, both Hughey and Heath joked about the casual nature of their meet-cute.

“The first time I really saw her, she and some of her dorm friends were going to Tech Square, but I had just come from Tech Square, so I was on the intersection going left to Nav [North Avenue Dining Hall], and she asked ‘why aren’t you going to Tech Square,’ and I was like ‘oh I just ate there,’ and then she called me lame, and then she walked off. And look now. Now, we’re in a great relationship: girlfriend and boyfriend, you know,” Hughey said

Sometimes, the meet-cute was not by random chance but carefully orchestrated by a meddling and well-intentioned friend, as was the case for Sarah McCoy, third-year PUBP and boyfriend Matthew Propp, third-year CS.

“[We] got set up on a date night, a blind date, by a friend of mine. She told me that he was really desperate for a date, and she told him that I really wanted to go to this event. Neither of those were true,” McCoy said.

McCoy continued, describing the unscripted nature of their introductory meet up that eventually led to a relationship.

“Eventually we ended up with a big group of people who abandoned us. He pretended like he liked to read, which I’ve since learned he doesn’t, and he showed off this book that was some science fiction that he had never read before,” McCoy said.

Despite these challenges, McCoy took a positive stance on the interaction, explaining that things eventually settled down and led to a happy and genuine relationship.

“But it was very sweet, and I thought it was cute. We’ve been dating officially now for four months,” McCoy said.

 No one knows when they will meet someone important to them for the first time. It could be at an event or a set up by a friend, but it could also be in the passing time, as was the case for Nidhi Reddy, second-year EIA and her boyfriend of over a year. 

“We met on the bus coming back from Zoo Atlanta, which was actually a big Stinger. He said he was taking Japanese classes here at Tech and explained how much he really wanted to study abroad in Japan (and his phone was in Japanese, which I thought was cool), and then the conversation went to anime, classes and more. Since then, he asked me to be his girlfriend on Oct. 2, 2022, at 2:22 a.m. I have a 222 tattoo, and it’s my angel number. We’ve been together for almost a year and a half,” Reddy said. 

As shown in these stories, the meet-cute is defined by the awkwardness, the excitement, the uncertainty and the possibility of the experience. They are not always movie perfect or sung about in top 100 pop songs, but they are real and  happen here at the Institute.

As Jackets celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, they can celebrate knowing that many before them have found love on campus.