By Emily Branson / Staff writer

The fall of 2019 marked my first semester of college, among so many other things. I had gone to the same school in Halstead for the entirety of my educational experience, so starting somewhere new was… different.

I felt like a fish out of water, no matter where I went. Needless to say, when the first day of classes rolled around, I was nervous. I had literally never been to another school in my life, and I knew that none of my friends from high school were in my classes.

I remember walking into Journalism Instructor Brad Hallier’s classroom and just knowing it was different than what I was used to. It was full of energy the entire time. As Brad gave his goofy first-day-of-class speech, he made a comment that probably not a single person in the class took seriously: “You never know, you could end up meeting your future best friend or significant other in this class.”

We all laughed, but now I can admittedly say, he was onto something.

All I wanted to do when I started college was get a degree. I didn’t want to live on campus or even live in Hutchinson. I just wanted to do my work and be done. However, it didn’t take long until something about that newspaper staff changed my mind.

I’m the type of person that dedicates a lot of time to their job and schoolwork, so I didn’t make it a point to hang out with any new friends a whole lot during that first month of school. What I didn’t know was that one person on The Collegian staff had his mindset on changing that.

KJ Ryan is the kind of guy that catches your attention from day one, but you can’t quite figure out why. Besides his bright red hair and contagious laugh, something about him had me interested. KJ is likely the funniest human being I have ever met. There’s always something weird or sarcastic or random that he has to say, and it comes as a shock every single time. So when the Kansas State Fair came around, I thought that it would be a great idea to invite him to come along with me, just to get to know him better. What I didn’t know was that that was only the beginning of our wildly crazy adventure together.

I wasn’t fully convinced that having a boyfriend in college was going to work with my busy schedule, so I pretty much pushed KJ into the friendzone for a couple of months (my bad). I invited him and some of his friends over to my house to meet my family and have a bonfire together. Once I realized that I not only had the funniest, but also the most loyal and loving human being as my best friend, something in my heart told me that I should stop making the poor guy wait. I caved and told him how I felt, and he surprisingly felt the same way toward me.

I knew that he was someone I could trust, and he proved himself every single day. By late November, I asked KJ if he could, finally, meet my dad. My dad was the official seal of approval in our relationship, so I suppose you could say we were “official” after that.

It’s been a little over two months since we started dating, but I feel like we’ve already experienced a million adventures. Having someone that is your best friend, sidekick, and boyfriend all wrapped into one is probably one of the best feelings on the planet.

Brad may have been joking when he said that we would find our significant other in newspaper class, but it definitely worked out in my favor. Journalism has brought so many exciting things into my life, but my best friend is my favorite of them all.

Read from KJ’s perspective:

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