UC Davis tells its love stories

BRIAN LANDRY / AGGIE

Students, alumni share how they met their partners at Davis

From picnics at the Davis Farmers Market to weddings in the Arboretum, UC Davis Aggies have carved out time in their busy quarters for a little romance. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, The California Aggie reached out to students and alumni through social media, asking them to volunteer their campus love stories.

The story of Genie Obina, a fourth-year community and regional development major, and Cameron Do, a recent managerial economics graduate, began in Segundo’s Ryerson Hall. After meeting through mutual friends, they eventually became so close that Obina was able to turn to Do when she had to go home to the Bay Area for a family emergency.

“I had to go home but didn’t have any way of getting there,” Obina said. “I messaged our friend group chat asking if anyone could give me a ride to the Bay Area, and [Do] responded saying he would bring me. Him being there as a good support system and someone I could trust really helped me handle the situation and brought us closer, but was also the starting point of another relationship beyond friendship.”

Obina said her family always kept Do in mind because of how kind he was to take her to the hospital, and she noted that their relationship may have not ever had the chance to develop if she did not have to go home for an unfortunate circumstance.

“My family had never met [Do] but he came with me to the hospital where almost my entire family was,” Obina said. “At first they were confused about who he was, but later everyone, even my aunts and uncles, went up to him and told him how nice it was that he brought me to the hospital and how much they appreciated it.”

Obina said that this situation solidified her relationship with Do into something more than friendship. If it hadn’t happened, Obina and Do’s love story might have never lasted the year they have been together.

Tica Bragg, a second-year cognitive science major, was not an experienced soccer player when she joined a co-ed intramural (IM) team for fun during her freshman year. After some time, she decided that the team was not something she wanted to be a part of anymore, but she went to one last practice anyway. That fateful night, she began to fall in love with now-boyfriend of nine months Emile Rappaport, a second-year theater major.

“At the end of practice I asked if anyone wanted to go to the dining commons for late night knowing no one would pass that up,” Bragg said. “I just remember thinking he was unique and I liked that. We talked for a while that night, and the rest is history.”

Rappaport swore that it was a combination of his charm, funny personality and most importantly, the two goals he scored during an IM game that helped him win over Bragg.

“Approaching summer, we had only been dating for three weeks,” Rappaport said. “At that point you don’t really know what the other person’s life is life back home, so there was an elevated amount of trust we needed to put in each other so that we could make it through the entire summer.”

Bragg believes that the distance over summer actually made them fall even more in love and proved that they were on the same page about wanting to make the relationship last. Bragg’s own likes and interests are now becoming a part of Rappaport’s life too, and vice versa. For example, Bragg was inspired enough by Rappaport’s passion for theater to audition for a role in a play, something she said she never would have done if it were not for him.

“I love dancing and just doing adventurous things, and [Rappaport] is someone who always wants to do things I love with me,” Bragg said. “For example, we just planned a trip to go skydiving together and I love that we can go do crazy things together.”

Regardless of whether or not she continues her newfound interest in theater, Bragg supports Rappaport by going to his shows and even surprising him by bringing his parents along with her.

Bragg and Rappaport both appreciate the many different environments that Davis has to offer — especially IM sports — and agree that the campus is a place where amazing relationships can form.

“UC Davis is such a crazy-large campus with so many different types of people,” Bragg said. “It’s amazing when you put yourself out there in a different environment to see the people you’ll meet and the people you’ll eventually fall in love with.”

Falling in love is exactly what Alyssa Jenkins and Dan Elefant did. This happily married couple of 25 years, both of whom graduated UC Davis in 1990, met in 1987 in the Tercero snack shop, where Jenkins happened to be playing arcade games.

“This guy came down and wanted to play the game next to mine,” Jenkins said. “At that moment, my game ended and I wanted to learn how to play his so he started showing me how and that sparked us talking. At the time I didn’t think anything of it.”

A week or so after they first met, Jenkins returned to Davis after spring break to find a note on her dorm whiteboard from Elefant inviting her to a party. Jenkins remembered Elefant as somebody she got along with and enjoyed talking to, but she was not on the prowl to meet someone, which was one of the reasons she attributes to their relationship working out.

“[Elefant] didn’t meet me when I had makeup on, or was dressed cuter, or was being more flirtatious, so [for] the entirety of our dating period I never felt like I had to be anything other than myself,” Jenkins said. “When you’re trying to meet somebody you kind of put up a front, but the day we met I was just out there to kill time and he was there on a study break in the middle of finals, but instead he ended up down there for three hours talking to me.”

Jenkins was very confident in knowing what she wanted from a possible relationship.

“My first two quarters I dated people that really did not fit my value system, so that made me realize that they weren’t keepers,” Jenkins said. “[Elefant] and I share the same values and even though we have different traits, we complement each other. You have to have the same value system and that is the core of our relationship.”

An important value for both of them was establishing themselves professionally and achieving their individual career goals. Jenkins, who was a biological sciences and English double major and is now the chair of the English Department at Terra Nova High School in San Mateo County, pointed out that many people today might reject the opportunity for a relationship because they want to climb higher in the workforce and establish their careers.

“Your graduate school won’t take care of you when you’re sick and it won’t share your joys and your sadnesses,” Jenkins said. “My experience at Davis was largely colored by my relationship and it was the most meaningful thing to happen to me besides the entire growing up process.”

While at UC Davis, Jenkins and her husband broke up a few times, but each instance became a learning experience. They would always come back together to renegotiate, change and grow.

When graduation rolled around, Jenkins and Elefant decided to break up because Elefant had made it clear that he did not want to have children later in life, whereas that was something nonnegotiable for Jenkins.

“We decided to end our relationship at that point, […] because our goals were mutually exclusive,” Jenkins said. “I then left the country to go live abroad for a while because I was so fried out from school. When I was in Israel, [Elefant] wrote me a letter and his [postscript] was ‘do you ever think of us the way that we were?’ That was the moment I knew he changed his mind about having kids. I called him when I got back to the United States and we met up in San Francisco, and from that moment on we’ve been inseparable. I don’t think I’ve been away from him for more than two weeks ever since then.”

When she met her husband back in 1987, Jenkins said she had made up her mind about the kind of person she wanted to end up. Luckily enough, the guy who came along that day at the snack shop happened all of those qualities.

“I’ve spent almost my entire adult life with him to the point where he knows me better than I know myself, and there’s comfort in that,” Jenkins said. “When everything in your life is constantly changing, you have a new set of classes and professors every ten weeks, when you’re worrying if you’re going to get into graduate school or where you will go to graduate school, having somebody who is a source of consistency in your life is essential to feel secure when everything else is constantly changing.”
Written by: Gillian Allen — features@theaggie.org

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