Guest Columnist

Cupid on campus

Author Carroll McKibbin (right) stands with McKibben Jacob Lindquist, the first-born son of two former college students and a namesake. (Submitted photo)
Author Carroll McKibbin (right) stands with McKibben Jacob Lindquist, the first-born son of two former college students and a namesake. (Submitted photo)

As another school year begins, I recall in retirement my several roles on college campuses: professor, department chair, dean. But the part I remember with the greatest satisfaction is one I never anticipated — Dan Cupid.

At the University of Kansas, I assigned students a project requiring research at the law library. One of them, Jackie, sought my guidance on how to proceed.

“Just ask one of the student assistants to help you,” I told her. “They are law students and know the library well.”

Jackie turned in a fine research paper and received a well-deserved A. When I complimented her, she smiled sheepishly and showed me an engagement ring. “I got a little help from one of the student assistants as you recommended,” she said. “We’re getting married this summer.”

That June I attended their wedding in Lindsborg, Kan. Score one for Dan Cupid.

A few years later I joined the faculty at the University of Nebraska. My brightest student, Margaret, stood at the top of the class with a straight-A average. On the day of the final examination she dropped her blue book on my desk half-way through the two-hour period and rushed out the door.

Given her usual focused, methodical approach, Margaret’s early departure surprised me. But I was busy and thought little more of it until I began grading papers and discovered she didn’t answer the last several questions.

By then students had left for the summer. Little choice remained but to give her a zero for the omitted part of the test and a B in the course. That bothered me. Such a diligent, thorough, alert student. I couldn’t believe she failed to complete the exam.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

In the fall, and much to my delight, I discovered Margaret enrolled in another of my courses. On the first day of class I asked her to remain a moment afterwards. I had to know.

“Margaret, did you realize you didn’t complete your exam last spring?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

“But why? You earned an A throughout the course and were at the top of the class. What happened?”

Margaret blushed. “Do you remember Tom, the guy sitting in front of me?” she asked.

“Yes,” I responded. “A nice fellow and fine student.”

“Well, I wanted to meet him. The only opportunity seemed to be in your class and time was running out.”

Margaret held my attention. The ways of students were always intriguing.

“I decided to leave when Tom did, no matter what, and strike up a conversation. You know, like ‘wasn’t that a hard test.’”

“Did it work?” I asked.

“Oh, yes. We went to the student union for a Coke and a long conversation. We’ve been dating ever since.”

Their wedding took place the following summer in Sioux Falls, S.D. Dan Cupid scored again.

When I left Nebraska to take an administrative position in the California university system, I became acquainted with an impressive young lady, Melissa, the student representative on a committee I chaired.

After Melissa’s graduation from Cal Poly, I received a call from a day care center in San Jose. The lady on the phone said Melissa had given my name as a reference.

“Would you mind sharing your opinion of her,” the lady asked.

“I have the highest regard for Melissa,” I responded. “I became well acquainted with her and know she is bright, sociable and loves children. She would be a perfect fit for a day care center.”

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

When I hung up the phone I thought of how this intelligent, young student graduated in just three years. Surely she could benefit from graduate school. I called Melissa and told her exactly that.

“Have you thought about attending graduate school?” I asked. “You are certainly well qualified.”

“No, I haven’t really thought about it,” she replied. “I love working with kids and need a paycheck. This opportunity came up, so I took it.”

“I have some contacts at the University of Nebraska. I could help get you into their graduate program if you are interested. What do you think?”

Melissa followed my suggestion and moved in the fall from California to Lincoln, Neb., where she entered the university graduate program in political science. A few weeks later I was in Lincoln on business and arranged to have lunch with her.

“How’s it going?” I asked over a hamburger.

“Not so good,” Melissa responded. “Things haven’t worked out so well. I’m thinking about dropping out and going home next week.”

Deeply disappointed and speechless for a moment, I searched for words. “Oh, Melissa, why not give it a little more time — maybe a month. California will always be there. This opportunity will not.”

A pause followed as Melissa pondered my thoughts and her future. “Okay then,” she replied with a smile. “I’ll give it another month. Who knows, maybe something good will happen to change my mind.”

Indeed, something good did happen — and with everlasting happiness. His name is Troy.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

My wife and I attended their wedding in Los Gatos, Calif. Twenty-four years and five children later, Troy and Melissa live in Boise, Idaho. They named their eldest son McKibben Jacob Lindquist. Thank you, Dan Cupid!

• Carroll McKibbin is a native Iowan who lives in San Luis Obispo, Calif., as a retired Cal Poly dean. He has written two books: “Apron Strings,” a humorous memoir of an Iowa upbringing, and “Lillian’s Legacy,” the true story of a supposedly unsolved murder in a small Iowa town. Comments: cmckibbi@calpoly.edu

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Want to join the conversation?

Consider subscribing to TheGazette.com and participate in discussing the important issues to our community with other Gazette subscribers.

Already a Gazette or TheGazette.com subscriber? Just login here with your account email and password.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.