These cute couples found love underneath the maple leaves

“I’m glad that we chose each other”


by Laura Wiersema, News Editor

INDIANOLA, Iowa (ID Magazine) — Last year on Valentine’s Day, 1,413 envelopes addressed from Simpson College sat in mailboxes across the country – 1,413 cards for the 1,413 couples who found the love of their life underneath the maple trees at the small-town college. To some it may sound cheesy and far-fetched, but some students are already on their way to being added to the mailing list.

Seniors Kaitlyn Louk and Dana Bohan have their wedding set for June 11 after being together for just over two years. But like all good love stories, it would be amiss without an awkward beginning, and in their case, it began by watching a YouTube video about poop.

Kaitlyn Louk and Dana Bohan

“I’d seen the video before, but I thought she was cute so I didn’t say anything,” Bohan recalled. “I think I pretend laughed OK.”

Thus began his plans to ask Louk out on a date.

“He asked me to coffee,” Louk said. “We went to Uncommon Grounds. He asked me to dinner the night after that and the rest is history.”

Opposites seem to attract for Louk, an art education major, and Bohan, a double major in biology and chemistry. But their differences, sometimes as little as how they cook a meal, don’t affect their relationship.

I think Simpson itself is a good representation of our relationship.”

— Jake Stearns

“That’s one of the things I appreciate most about (her). She’s different than me,” Bohan said. “Our differences are like the highlights. They’re the interesting parts. I’ve always had a thirst for learning, and it’s just amplified with her. I just want to know everything about her all the time.”

Regardless of the couple, Simpson often plays a pivotal role in bringing the two people together. For junior Suzie Dunya, of Accra, Ghana, and senior Esteban Sierra, of Juarez, Mexico, it brought two continents together in an international love.

“She lives in another continent that’s more than 10,000 miles away. But we came here at the same time and we met each other,” Sierra said. “We met at Pfeiffer. We were sitting down with international students and Walter (Lain) and introduced her to the group.”

Ending up at Simpson is something the couple believes could only be attributed to fate.

Sierra would never have been introduced to Simpson by a high school teacher in Texas had he never failed a class in middle school, causing his grade point average to be too low for the high school he planned to attend in Mexico.

Esteban Sierra and Suzie Dunya

Dunya had other plans, too.

“I wasn’t going to come to Simpson,” she said. “There was another option, but I came here and my life was changed. Everything that led us to here was so that we could meet each other.”

But not everyone believes in fate or the idea of “the one.” Louk and Bohan had a different theory.

“I think that there could be several people that are right for you. And you have free will, so you kind of decide,” Louk said.

“Everyone is compatible with everyone else to a certain degree, and sometimes it just works out really well,” Bohan added.

“I’m glad that we chose each other,” Louk smiled.

Sentimental feelings for Simpson linger in the relationship between sophomore Madi Paulson and senior Jake Stearns.

“I think Simpson itself is a good representation of our relationship,” Stearns said. “This is home for our relationship.”

They started dating a month after the May Term trip they took to Colorado together in 2016.

With Stearns on the Simpson football team and Paulson cheering him on from the sidelines as a member of the dance team, they fit the college couple archetype.

Meanwhile as seniors, Louk and Bohan are looking forward to what the future has in store. With Bohan applying to graduate schools, the couple will follow wherever his education takes him, and they couldn’t be more excited to see what lies in store.

Don’t forget the reason that you started dating that person.

— Kaitlyn Louk

“We’re going to have to build a home together, whether it be an apartment or something else, and that’s so exciting to me,” Bohan said. “When you can start something fresh, there are so many opportunities to make everything the way you always wanted it or make it the way you thought it always should be. All of the fun things that we’ve always talked about doing, we could do.”

Dunya and Sierra have already started to do the things they’ve always dreamed of doing. Their wanderlust isn’t satisfied by coming from different countries.

“We travel. We like to go on road trips together when we have time,” Dunya said.

So far, they’ve traveled to Colorado, Minnesota and Mexico together, but that’s just the start of their itinerary. They’ve also discussed plans to visit Ghana, the Faroe Islands and Greece.

“I would love to live in different places, get to know the culture. Of course I want a home, I want to settle, but I want to get to know other places,” Sierra said.

Every college student knows the struggle of being pulled in 100 directions.

Every class, club and event is vouching for your time and attention. When you add a significant other, someone you want to spend every second with and who wants to spend every second with you, someone you want to know everything about, things get a little more complicated.

“I was staying up, doing all-nighters, because I would rather be with him. So we would do stuff during the day and then I’d be up ‘til 5 a.m. doing a paper,” Louk said.

It wasn’t long before the couple realized they’d have to manage their time better. Now they regularly eat meals and do homework together for an even balance of school and their relationship. Or what Bohan calls “short-term sacrifices for long-term benefits.”

“It’s a lot of give and take,” Stearns said. “We understand that you have to put the practice in to play at this level or dance at this level.”

Madi Paulson and Jake Stearns

It can be hard to keep love alive when the business of life gets in the way, but it’s important to remember to have fun.

“There’s a lot going on, but also set aside time to be a couple,” Stearns said.

“Don’t forget the reason that you started dating that person,” Louk said. “Keep sticking notes in each other’s backpacks.”

This story first appeared in ID Magazine. To read the original, go to