Editor’s note: This story is part of the Purple Threads series, which aims to tell the stories of Kansas State students who, despite their different experiences, are all connected in some way through K-State.
Just 24 minutes from Kansas City is Kearney, Missouri, a town with a population of around 8,000, per the 2010 U.S. census. Over 600 miles away, Raton, New Mexico sits snug just south of the Colorado border.
These two places, though hours apart and seemingly unconnected, are home to two Kansas State students who are planning to spend the rest of their lives together. Kooper Holbrook, a graduate student in architecture, is one of them.
The first chapter
While Holbrook grew up in Kearney, his parents both grew up in Kansas and attended K-State. After he learned about K-State’s architecture program, he said it sounded like a perfect fit.
What Holbrook didn’t know about K-State was that it would soon become the place where he would meet his fiancé — Kate Little, a graduate student also studying architecture.
“We technically met before coming to K-State, but Kooper doesn’t remember,” Little said. “In our senior year of high school, we both came for a scholarship day. I remember seeing him and thinking he was the most attractive guy I’d ever seen.”
The pair got engaged on Dec. 6 last year and plans to get married on June. 6.
“We were both in architecture and lived on the same floor of the same dorm,” Little said. “We just happened to be in the same place at the same time a lot — mostly my doing — and got to know each other. We became really good friends our first semester and started dating early in the second, so we have been together for four years.”
Little’s smile and personality are among some of the things Holbrook said he loves about her.
“Kate grew up an only child, a sharp contrast to my three siblings,” Holbrook said. “Kate has a very caring personality, always looking out for and trying to take care of the needs of those around her.”
Little grew up in New Mexico, but had family who lived in Kansas she often visited. She said she loves that Holbrook “is who he is” and that he always tries his hardest to help her when she is upset.
“He’s also incredibly caring — he’ll put others’ needs before his and that’s something I’ve always admired,” she said. “He is smart and likes to understand how things work, so to watch him become invested in something and learn amazes me.”
More than classmates
Holbrook said a lot of the difficulties their relationship faces come from the stress and time commitment of being an architecture student.
“While we have had many classes together, often the time we spend together in class or working on projects does not feel like quality time,” Holbrook said. “So while we might both have to spend all day in the same studio working on projects, that time isn’t directed in a way to increase our connection with each other.”
Little affirmed Holbrooks remarks, noting that while they spend a lot of time together, it’s not always quality.
“We get into class, we sit and do our own work, we’ll ask for the other’s opinion or go grab something from the Union together, but we don’t get as many chances to sit and talk about our day or life outside of architecture,” Little said. “It’s hard sometimes to find time to not just be classmates, but we make do and try to have a date night about once a week.”
Their relationship is generally relaxed, Holbrook said.
“We tend to enjoy doing simple things together, going out for walks, drives, going to bookstores, and just generally enjoying each others company,” he said.
Little said that since the two know each other’s work and class schedules, they are able to understand why the other might be stressed and find free time to cheer them up.
“The good thing for us about being in college is it gives us a break to be two kids dating,” Little said. “Once we turn in a big project we can have a few days where we don’t really have responsibilities.”
Choosing each other
College is often a place where people explore their interests. Holbrook said many people go through multiple short relationships looking for just the right person to match their personality.
“What you don’t see when doing that is the ability two people have to grow and change together,” he said. “Being in a long-term relationship means you get to know your partner deeply, and you also learn about yourself as you begin to see things through each other’s point of view.”
While they can be difficult, Little said long-term relationships are worth it.
“Some days it really is choosing to love each other even when they frustrate you to no end,” she said. “But it is so rewarding. Kooper is absolutely my best friend.
“I know he’ll always stand by me and he knows I’ll always stand by him,” Little continued. “The early dating butterflies and giddy excitement is mostly gone, but I feel very secure and comfortable in our relationship now. I love Kooper more and more every day and would take our love now over the early stuff any day.”