While most seniors at Knox are busy planning for life after graduation, senior Eleanor Sevigny has, in a very big way, already begun her future. Amid the lessons that accompany senior year, she is learning firsthand about something many of her peers will not experience for years to come: married life.
She and Collin Sevigny tied the knot June 30, 2012, on her family’s Oregon farm.
The couple, who met at church during January of her freshman year, now rent a house in Galesburg, where Collin was raised. They were engaged in February 2010 but waited until they could afford to get married since they were financing the wedding by themselves.
According to the National Center for Education Studies, 18 percent of undergraduates are married (out of 20,928 surveyed).
Additionally, an estimated one in six Knox alumni marry another alum. Senior Katie Wrenn and her fiance Vince Rug ’12, as well as junior Charlie Gorney and his fiancee, junior Erin Besaw, will likely add to those numbers.
“I feel so special that I get this piece of hardware to rock around,” Wrenn said, referring to her engagement ring.
The couple has been engaged since October, when Rug surprised her at the ranch in Peoria where she rides horses by hiding in a stall. He said, “‘Hey babe’” and she knew what was coming.
Wrenn and Rug have been dating for almost six years. They met in high school, when she was nearly 16 and he was 17.
“We were in geology class … and at first I really didn’t like him ‘cause he wouldn’t talk, and I was super talkative,” Wrenn said. “But one day,he kinda talked to me a little bit in class and after school … And then I ended up asking him to Sadie Hawkins and we’ve been dating since.”
Gorney and Besaw’s anniversary is approaching; they will have been together for two years later this month. He popped the question in Paris over winter break.
“She’s studying in Morocco this year, and I flew to Europe and we met up in France for a couple [of] weeks,” Gorney said.
“At this point, [being engaged is] not all that much different than it was before, probably partly because we had … talked about getting married. Plus, she’s not even in the country right now,” he said.
Gorney mentioned that “it takes a while to get used to referring to your significant other as ‘fiancee’.”
Sevigny said that married life is “very busy, but [Collin] makes things a lot easier … cleaning and stuff, he’ll help me with it; we’ll take turns with it. If I’m really stressed out, he’s always there for me whenever I’m doubting myself.” He fully supports her in her Knox education as well as in her interest in entering Teach for America.
She is learning “how to work things out… Because you’re not just on your own; you’re with that person all the time.” She is also learning how to cook.
Invariably, when undergraduates get engaged or married, some people wonder why.
Sevigny assumed she wouldn’t get married until after college, “so it was surprising, but it was also very exciting … knowing that I’d met the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with.”
Though her parents wanted her to graduate first, “they understand … when I make up my mind about something, it’s very hard to change my mind,” she said.
Her friends at Knox are supportive.
“A lot of them think it’s cool, a lot of them think it’s unique, others wonder why I did it,” she said.
To the third category, she answers: “I’m married because I love him. I want to spend my life with him.”
“I feel like we’ve been talking about getting married since, I don’t know, like six months into dating,” Wrenn said. “It just seemed like there was an instantaneous connection between us.
“We always received a lot of respect, which I really appreciated. …I was a little nervous that [people] … would judge us because, you know, it’s almost taboo … you’re entering a contract with someone, but what’s underneath that contract is unconditional love, and wanting to raise a family with this person, and wanting to make yourself better with this person. …For us, it’s the right choice.”
She attributes their success over the course of their years at Knox together in part to the mindset with which they entered school—of remaining committed to their academics academics and “knowing that this is why we’re here.”
“I want to still go get my Ph.D. in clinical psychology and he’s going to be working in a bank. …I think we’ve always kind of tried to make as many sacrifices that allow us to be together but not hinder us from what we want to do, and I think that’s why we were so successful” Wrenn said .
In Gorney’s case, “what better time or place than Paris?” He admits that getting engaged in college had not been on his mind upon arriving at Knox, but “I just kind of ended up with someone I could see spending the rest of my life with.”
The way Wrenn sees it, many people at Knox are wary of social institutions such as marriage or religious affiliation, but she believes that “you make everything that you are; you make your marriage. … Individuality can define those social constructs.”
Sevigny stands firm in her decision.
“I don’t regret getting married. …I know it won’t be easy and I know it won’t always be happy, but I’m going to keep my vows. I’ll be with him through all times good and bad because I know those good times are worth it.”