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Smitten in the Mitten

Students and alumni share stories of how they fell in love on CMU’s campus

Sometimes you find love in the most unexpected places. And while many students fall in love during their college years, each story is a little different than the next. 

On Valentine’s Day, we celebrate all love as we share the love stories of two couples whose journeys together began at Central Michigan University. 

Current students Madison Downs and Braden Ellis first met in a sports management class during a full class introduction. Shortly thereafter, Downs noticed Ellis walking home one day after class and realized they were walking to the same residence hall. 

“We started to talk in class and then eventually started walking home together,” said Downs. “We stopped for hot chocolate one day and then we just started spending more and more time together.”  

Braden Ellis and Madison Downs
Braden Ellis and Madison Downs

Now, nearly three years later, Downs and Ellis are going strong and reflecting on their journey thus far. Downs' first impressions of Ellis were that he was quiet and cute while Ellis said his first impression was that she was super outgoing. When it comes to celebrating Valentine’s Day, the two say all that is important to them is being together. 

Twenty years earlier, Dena and Matt Norrod fell in love as undergraduates on the same campus. The two met on Dena’s 20th birthday while traveling on a bus from CMU to their spring break destinations. 

“We had some mutual friends and they made me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich birthday cake and delivered it to me at the front of the bus,” Dena said. When their bus suddenly broke down in New York City, Dena thought it would be best not to walk around the city alone, so she and Matt started talking and that was the beginning of it all.  

Dena said her first impression of Matt was that he was a little bit daring, incredibly intelligent and well-versed and Matt remembers Dena as passionate and being able to talk about anything. 

“When we started talking it was like I had known her for a while already, there wasn’t any transition or acclimation,” Matt recalls. 

While in school, the two liked to go out, including to the commons in the Towers, to campus events and their first official date at oldies night at Wayside Central. 

Dena and Matt Norrod and family
Dena Norrod (back left) and Matt Norrod (back right) with daughters Kayla (front left) and Aubrey (front right)

Although the Norrods don’t usually go big on Valentine’s Day, they do enjoy any excuse to show each other love daily by saying words of affirmation, spending quality time together and having simple conversation. 

“We feel that ‘I like you’ is a choice whereas 'I love you' is a statement that everyone says,” said Dena. “But 'I like you' after 23 years means that I still enjoy your company and I’m still making that choice too.” 

To see more CMU love stories, visit CMU's Facebook page.