Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Class rings and wedding rings


Emily and Hunter had been dating for six years before the day she had always dreamed of became reality.

“Basically we recently got a puppy, and he called me and asked me to take a walk by the river with him,” Emily McDowell said. “We were talking about our futures, and he stopped me on a bridge. That’s when he proposed.”

McDowell is currently a senior at the University majoring in accounting, and Hunter Knight is a fifth-year senior majoring in engineering. Both knew that it was best for them to wait until the end of their college careers to become engaged. They plan on waiting until McDowell completes graduate school to get married in 2012.

“We wanted me to have my time in college and for him to have his before we started our lives together,” McDowell said. “It is a big deal for me to wait until I finish grad school to marry him.”

Not every couple feels the same way. With some couples getting engaged and married early during their college careers or while in graduate school, striking a balance between coursework and family is a challenge that hits many women especially hard.

 In a poll of 25 male and 25 female undergraduate students, all 25 women said they would not consider being married while still in college. Only one man said that he would be married while still going to school. Eleven men said they would be engaged in school, and 19 women agreed that they would want to be engaged.

“I did want to get engaged in college, particularly my senior year, because I wanted to share the experience with my sorority sisters with a candlelight,” McDowell said.

She said the future seems a lot more realistic with their relationship now that they are engaged instead of just dating.

Lauren Shell, a junior majoring in marketing, does not want to be engaged or married until she is finished with her undergraduate degree.

“I don’t agree with it because you have so many other responsibilities,” Shell said. “Education comes first.”

She acknowledges that being engaged and married while going to school is doable though, because her own mom did it.

“I think you just have to have a lot of will power to balance everything,” Shell said.

It’s all in the balancing act, said Cori Perdue, an English Ph.D. student who has now been married for 11 years and has two children.

“It’s challenging, but in some ways I think school and my family balance each other out,” Perdue said. “On one hand, I can’t get too stressed out over grad school. On the other hand, it’s another set of responsibilities.”

Her typical day consists of getting the kids dressed and ready for school, studying in the library for several hours, and then going home to spend some quality time with her family before and after dinner.

“I try to get as much schoolwork as I can finished by about 3:30 so I can go home and be with my family,” Perdue said. “There is this common conception now that you have to finish both or all of your degrees before you get married or have kids. I think it’s almost like putting your life on hold.”

Perdue said it can be done as long as you understand that you are taking on two very large challenges.

            “You have to be able to go home, switch gears, and become Mom,” she said. “My best advice for someone thinking about having kids while also being in school is to have a great support system in place. I have a lot of friends and family who can help out in emergencies, and I couldn’t be a successful student, wife, and parent without all of their help.”

This may be encouraging news to Jessica Bonnett, a freshman majoring in pre-pharmacy, who recently became engaged to the man of her dreams, Brett Clements.

            “He is done with school already, but I will still have five years left of school since I want to do pharmacy,” the 19-year-old said. “He’s really supportive of me in school though, and right now that is the main thing for me.”

The couple has been dating for 16 months, and while she is excited to marry him on June 2, 2012, Bonnett is happy to have a couple of years to focus only on college before the big day arrives.

“I think I need time,” Bonnett said. “Not because I’m unsure, but because I need these two years to become financially stable and focus on school.”

As a new member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, Bonnett was able to have a candlelight ceremony and share the news of her engagement with her sisters.

Bonnett said her sorority sisters overall are very supportive of the couple’s engagement. Clements, who is two years older than Bonnett, proposed to her in front of Denny Chimes after ADPi’s Black Diamond Formal.

            “A lot of people already knew it was me who was engaged because they had to make sure it was okay to have a candlelight since I wasn’t initiated yet,” Bonnett said. “It was so exciting, though, and I was shaking the whole time.”

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