The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

How UI couples found their ‘I do’ in the classroom corridors

Though the median age of married couples continues to rise, some current and former Hawkeyes have chosen to start their next chapters before graduation.
Kathy Le
Callahan Morton and Callum Swanson pose for a portrait at the Voxman Music Building on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. Morton and Swanson are engaged undergraduate students studying at the University of Iowa.

In the fall of 1995, Daisy Hutzell-Rodman, a University of Iowa first-year at the time, opted for a quiet night in her dorm at Daum Residence Hall during her first week of classes.

However, a chance encounter with a dorm neighbor swiftly changed her plans. Her neighbor stopped her in her tracks, pointed at her, and said, “You. We’re going to a party and you’re coming with us.”

“So, I put on decent clothes — or at least decent enough to go to a party in the 90s,” Hutzell-Rodman recalled.

Amid the sea of new students, drunk on cheap liquor and the adrenaline of independence, her eyes caught on one person: A blonde guy standing alone by the keg.

“I came up to him and said, ‘Hi. Who are you?’” she shared. His name was Jeremy Wade Rodman, in the class of 1996, and their keg-side conversation would become the first of many — sans the keg.

They started dating in the spring of 1996 and got engaged during Hutzell-Rodman’s third year. The couple married in a small ceremony at Danforth Chapel in Iowa City, just 28 days after her graduation in 1998.

They were fortunate to receive financial support from their families and benefitted from the booming job market of the ‘90s, settling in Omaha, Nebraska.

However, she also shared that given the chance to go back in time and do it over again, she would likely have waited at least a year post-graduation to get married.

Daisy Hutzell-Rodman and Jeremy Wade Rodman pose for a photo on their wedding day at the Danforth Chapel in Iowa City, Iowa, on Aug. 29, 1998. (Contributed by Daisy Hutzell-Rodman)

“It was a very different time,” Hutzell-Rodman said, explaining that young women in the ‘90s still faced pressure from friends and family to get married after graduation. “My grandmother actually left the University of Iowa to get married in the 1940s. She didn’t finish her degree and that’s what was expected of her.”

With nearly 40 years of experience officiating weddings in and around the Iowa City area, Rev. Mark Hall of Iowa City Minister identified a decline in college-aged clients since he became ordained, citing financial independence and the increasing availability of birth control as a potential deterrent.

“Weddings have not been in great demand,” Hall said. “People are not getting married as young.”

A 2018 article from The New York Times quantifies Hall’s sentiments. Experts have observed a rise in the median age of married men and women by 6.5 years and 6.6 years respectively since the 1970s.

By today’s standards, marrying young may seem dated in principle, but Hall — having officiated thousands of weddings during his career — emphasized that the long-term success of any marriage has less to do with when they’re wed and everything to do with “strong economics, maturity, and [knowing] how to treat one another.”

For Callahan Morton, class of 2023, and Callum Swanson, class of 2024, their mothers had known the two would end up together since they were babies.

Their efforts to form a connection between the two were largely unsuccessful, but when Morton decided to reach out to Swanson during their second year of high school, their friendship quickly grew into something more.

Together, they attended the UI — Morton for her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and French and Swanson for his Bachelor of Arts in English and screenwriting — and dated throughout college.

In the summer before Morton’s last semester, Swanson led her on a walk on the beach during a family vacation in Florida. The route he took was decked in flowers and balloons, meaning only one thing for a taken-aback Morton.

“My family was hiding in the bushes. It was so funny,” Morton said, describing the moment Swanson popped the question.

Their announcement was met with shock from some, considering the newlyweds’ age, but saw only support from friends and family. For the couple, it was a question of when, not why.

“It was perfect timing,” she said.

This past semester went by fast for Morton who said she would suppress academic stress by browsing wedding boards on Pinterest. She shared that this had always been the plan. The two knew from the beginning they wanted to marry each other.

With Morton having since graduated and Swanson with one semester to go, the two are ready to turn their full attention toward their upcoming wedding and their future careers alongside each other.

“As one chapter closed — both of us being in school — I was getting a glimpse of what the next chapter was,” Morton said. “It’s with my best friend, the person I’ve wanted to spend the rest of my life with since I was 15.”

Similarly, for class of 2022 graduates Grace and Noah Weiner, the decision to get married came this past August right before the two headed into graduate school. Their motivation to get married when they did was “to just get it done,” Grace Weiner shared.

“We got married on a Saturday and we both started grad school the following Monday,” she said. “It sort of just worked out.”

Like the Rodmans, their story began before the first week of classes in 2018. A run-in at Hillcrest Residence Hall while the two were both first years students carried into a relationship just days later.

Grace Weiner, now in graduate school for marriage and family therapy at Mount Mercy University, had always planned she would embark on that academic journey. Now she jokes that getting married was a prerequisite to the program.

With Noah Weiner at the UI College of Law, the two are still “typical.” Their hearts were set on advancing their careers, but now they’re doing it together.

“It was a dream. I wouldn’t change a thing,” she said. “[Life] is not hard with Noah.”

Grace and Noah Weiner pose for a photo on their wedding day on Aug. 19, 2023. (Cluney Photo)

For Travis Bushaw, class of 2006, he met his now-wife Erica Bushaw, class of 2007, after he signed up to participate in the UI’s annual Dance Marathon on a whim in 2003. He happened to be placed in the same group as her during the student organization’s first meeting.

“It was like out of a movie,” he said. “I saw her and everything else in the room stopped for a second.”

The “movie,” however, was something more akin to “When Harry Met Sally” — at the time, Erica Bushaw had a boyfriend. Three years later at a birthday party, a mutual friend reintroduced them.

“Like a giant nerd, I explained that I knew who she was since 2003,” he shared.

A choice opener, but a successful one at that. The two started dating that night. Within the week, he was telling his friends she would be his future wife.

“They laughed, but I was like ‘No, I’m serious,’” Travis Bushaw said. “I’m going to marry her.”

In February 2006, as the Dance Marathon’s executive director, he surprised her with a proposal on stage surrounded by her closest friends and family, something he pulled off with the help of the many who supported them.

However, Travis Bushaw’s decision to propose while still in school took a financial toll. Saving up for a ring took time, especially in the face of student loan payments and living expenses. Balancing both student teaching and Dance Marathon, he noted it was “a lot all at once.”

“But obviously — worth it,” he added.

For him, the timing was perfect. Though part of him wishes their story could have begun three years earlier, he also pondered whether their relationship would have unfolded the same way if they had known each other sooner.

“It worked out just like it was supposed to,” he said. “You know when you know.”

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About the Contributors
Avi Lapchick, Arts Editor
Avi Lapchick is an arts editor at The Daily Iowan. A fourth-year student studying English and Creative Writing at the University of Iowa, she previously held the positions of staff photojournalist, summer arts editor, and assistant arts editor at the DI. She is happiest when she is writing or painting.
Kathy Le, Photojournalist
Kathy Le is a fourth-year student at The University of Iowa majoring in 3D design and Art History. This is her first year working as a photojournalist of Daily Iowan.