Abi and Whit

Image 1 of Abi and Whit

How We Met

Whit and I first met in grad school at Western Carolina University back in 2010. After graduating in 2011, Whit moved to The University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA to begin his professional career. Fast forward five years, I was interviewing for a Ph.D. program at The University of Iowa, so I reached out to Whit about showing me around town. Who would have known that I was reconnecting with an old acquaintance who would later become my fiancé?! We had a great time meeting each other again after so many years and when I made the decision to move to Iowa for my Ph.D., Whit was one of my first calls to share the news. Once I officially made the move to Iowa, Whit and my friendship blossomed over the next year as we made many road trips to concerts, sporting events, and to explore the outdoors. After a long year of being “just friends”, Whit asked me to be his girlfriend. A few days later, we took a trip, that we had planned to go on when we were still friends, to Mount Rushmore and The Badlands. Talk about a fun first-date! Over the next year, we continued to live our wanderlust lifestyle, and added visiting as many national parks/forests/and or monuments to our “Couple’s Bucket List.” Our love grew and we reminisced often about how we remember each other vaguely from grad school and tried to recall all of the interactions with each other during the one-year where our cohorts overlapped. I can’t imagine my life without Whit and would have never guessed that our casual interactions years prior would reconnect us towards a lifetime of love.

Image 2 of Abi and Whit

(February, 2015 When I visited Iowa for the first time and Whit took me on a tour of campus and Iowa City.)

how they asked

Whit and I went on an Alaskan Cruise this summer and were excited that we would have the opportunity to visit the Tongass National Forest while on our trip. Knowing that we didn’t have an excursion planned for our day in Juneau, Alaska, I was thrilled to hear that Whit found a local tour guide who was willing to take us out to see Mendenhall Glacier to walk into one of its ice caves. We had both been to Alaska before with our own families, but we were excited to see this glacier in a new way! Our tour guide picked us up from the port and after a short drive, a long three-miles canoeing through rough waters, and a short mile hike, we finally made it to one of Mendenhall Glacier’s ice caves. We were in awe of the natural beauty and as I marveled at the ice formations, Whit sneakily signaled to our tour guide, who was actually a professional photographer, and got down on one knee. Between the excitement of the proposal and the constant raindrops of melting ice around us, I actually missed Whit asking me to be his wife. Oops! He luckily asked again to ensure that I was paying attention to his thoughtfully rehearsed speech, where I of course said “YES!” Our tour guide/photographer captured every second of this magical moment! Along with being an accomplice to this incredibly memorable and thoughtful proposal, Whit had also mailed her some personalized tumblers (one with the coordinates of Mendenhall Glacier and one that said “The greatest adventure begins”) to celebrate the moment with some champagne, all of which she had hidden in her hiking bag. Alaska had already been one our favorite places in the world, and now we have an even stronger connection with this beautiful state. We now say, “I love you to Alaska and back!”

Image 3 of Abi and Whit

Image 4 of Abi and Whit

Image 5 of Abi and Whit

Special Thanks

Sydney Akagi
 | Photographer