CMU Students Share Their Love Stories

Kendal Hoppa and Ben Capouellez

Photo courtesy of Kendal Hoppa and Ben Capouellez

Kendal Hoppa and Ben Capouellez have been together for a year. The two met through a mutual friend. One night, their mutual friend messaged Ben and asked him to give her and Kendal a ride to The Cabin. Ben stayed with the girls, and they played pool. During the game, Kendal and Ben got to know each other. The tool hit it off so well that Kendal invited Ben out the following weekend. 

Q: What was your first impression of each other? 

Kendal: He was super funny. He had a great personality that was different from anyone I’d ever met before. We had that instant click. We thought the same stuff was funny. We had the same interests. So I definitely wanted to learn more about him. 

Ben: I thought she was super cool and nice. She cracked a lot of jokes back at me and wasn’t as gullible as other people would have been. I thought she was unique. She stuck true to herself the whole time and it was pretty cool to see. I also thought she was really pretty.

Q: What is your favorite thing about each other? 

Kendal: The one that comes to my head first is how selfless he is. He always puts other people before himself, with an emphasis on me. I really like how he takes care of me without me having to ask. I can always count on him to be there when I need him. 

Ben: She is a big ball of energy and enthusiasm everywhere she goes. She will lighten up anything. 

Q: What’s one thing you guys hope to do together in the future/near future? 

Kendal: We’re getting to the part of our relationship where I’ll be here for another semester, and he’ll be gone working. We’ll be living in different spaces and doing long distance. So honestly, I’m really looking forward to growing through that distance and working through it.

Ben: I really want to go to Europe. Going to Europe has always been a goal and dream of mine. But now, I have someone to go with. Someone I can share things I like with. 

Q: If you could tell each other anything, what would it be? 

Ben: I’m not sure, I pretty much tell her everything.

Kendal: I say everything I need and want to say to him already. 

Madison VanderPloeh and Noah Cochrane

Photo courtesy of Madison VanderPloeh and Noah Cochrane

Madison VanderPloeg and Noah Cochrane have been together for a year. The two met on campus in Emmons Hall during the 2021 fall semester move-in. Noah’s roommate was walking around the hall knocking on doors to say “Hello.” When he knocked on Madison’s, he introduced her to Noah. At first, Madison paid no attention to Noah. But later, in the courtyard, they began talking and hit it off. 

Q: Where was your first date and what was it like? 

A: Texas Roadhouse.

Q: How did you feel after your first date? 

Noah: I felt good about it. I felt like we’d been hanging out and talking a lot prior to the date. 

Madison: It was our first time together, away from all our friends. We had roommates, so it was hard to hang out together alone. It was the first time we got to really talk.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do together? 

Madison: I like Squishmallow hunting. We started that nonchalantly last year. Noah bought me Babs, a little blue jay. Then we just started doing it regularly. We also play guitar together. That’s fun.

Noah: I agree, but I only do the Squishmallow thing because Madison loves it, and I love being along for the ride. I love seeing her reactions when we find something she was hoping to find or something unexpected. I also 100% agree with the guitar thing. We play the guitar together. We both started. She started in October; I started early last year. So, we’re both still learning, but it’s a lot of fun. We try to teach each other songs and play new songs for each other.

Q: What is your favorite thing about each other? 

Madison: He always listens. He always tries to make me feel special. If I’m having a bad day, he always cheers me up. One time he’ll surprise me with, like, my favorite soaps and do nice things like that. He always tries to cheer me up. 

Noah: She is adorably stubborn, not in a bad way. But, if we’re ever deciding on what we want to do, where we want to eat, or what movie we’re going to watch if she knows what she wants, she sets her mind to it. If she sets her mind on something, that’s it. There’s no arguing. I love it so much because it’s really cute seeing her set on something.

Jordan Leh and Connel Smith

Photo courtesy of Jordan Leh and Connel Smith

Jordan Leh is a senior studying computer science and statistics. Connel Smith is a junior majoring in animation. They met through their mutual friend Ethan O’Neill. They’ve been dating for two years.

Q. How did you meet?:

Jordan: I was here my freshman year, and he was at OCC his freshman year of college. I met his best friend from high school here: Ethan. Ethan would always talk about this Connel guy, how he’s so funny and cool…During our sophomore year, Connel transferred here. We all started hanging out as a group. We met, and then we started hanging out. We had a lot of similar interests, we liked a lot of the same YouTubers. That was my way to hang out with him, just him, for the first time.

Connel: It was like, two weeks before we started dating… I was kind of nervous.

Jordan: I was very nervous. We started hanging out really quickly at the beginning of the year. The Friday night before we went home for Labor Day weekend, we hung out until 5 a.m., because we would hang out until 3 or 5 a.m. multiple times a week. I was exhausted because I just wanted to hang out with him.

Connel: I was like, “I don’t know if she likes me.”

Jordan: Yeah, and then the end of the night, it’s 5:30 a.m., and I’m like “Ok, he’s going to give me a hug” and he shakes my hand.

Connel: It was funny.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do together on campus?

Jordan: We take walks when the weather is nice. That’s one of our favorite things; we used to do that a lot when we lived in the dorms, actually.

Connel: We did, it was easier when we were on campus.

Jordan: I would go and meet him when his class was done, then we would walk back to East together… We come (to the University Center) for Starbucks if we need a break. We eat sometimes in the Down Under. Sometimes we do work. Usually, we’ll do work at one of our apartments though. Sometimes just meeting after class is nice. He can stop by whenever.

Connel: We go to the gym sometimes.

Jordan: Oh yeah! I guess that’s one way he supports me, by motivating me. I wanted to be more active this year. He’s never mean in the way he motivates. I know it sounds weird when you’re like “Oh, your boyfriend’s making you go to the gym,” but it’s never like that. I want to do it. By doing it with him, it’s not as scary. Going to the gym is so intimidating, but that’s fun, and it’s also just another way for us to spend time together. If we know we have a really busy day coming up, just taking an hour to go work out is very nice.

Q: Do you think having similar love languages is a good foundation for your relationship?:

Connel: We like the same things so that helps.

Jordan: The fact that we are very in line makes it a lot easier… We always know how to cheer each other up and I think a part of that is understanding each other.

Q: Why do you think your relationship lasted longer than other couples in your friend group?

Jordan: I think it did help me by having previous relationships to know red flags or just the reason they did not work out…One thing I’ve thought about is that we’re very opposite on a lot of things; I’m a computer science and stats major, and he’s an animation major… He’s more artsy and I’m more science-y, nerdy. But then I feel like we’re similar on where it counts, like our values, and our personalities are very similar. We’re both funny, I think we’re both kind people; that’s one of the reasons I was drawn to him. He’s so compassionate and kind to people. So definitely by having those moral values and the way you look at life, having similar views. The other stuff is kind of just surface-level. Although we also do have a lot of interests shared.

Connel: Interests for sure. I can just show her something I like, we’ll watch Star Wars together… I thought there would be more things I’d have to compromise within a relationship. And there is obviously always compromise, but it hasn’t been nearly as much as I’d thought. And she values me for who I am; I don’t have to change anything weird.

Jordan: That is a good point. Because I actually did think I’d have to compromise on a lot of stuff, but even thinking about my dream partner . . . was never as amazing as him. Actually, not trying to be sappy, but I don’t feel like I have to compromise my morals or what I want in life… That’s also what makes this the perfect time in life to find a person like him. In high school, you don’t really know who you are. Even the beginning of college could be kind of risky, but I feel like we were able to find ourselves and go through things, but by having each other’s support without being codependent.

Q: Where do you see the future of your relationship?:

Jordan: Marriage.

Connel: Marriage.

Jordan: I’m graduating this spring with my undergrad and I have one more year for my master’s. He has one more year for his undergrad. We’re going to be done with college at the same time. That’s one of the reasons that I chose to stay at Central for my master’s… It’s kind of hard to find the balance in changing your life goals for someone because you shouldn’t change your plans for a guy. But sometimes someone is worth it.