Bennett and Purnell grew up together in the small town of Roanoke Rapids, N.C. and while they are now in love and planning on a wedding, they said that was not always the case.
“We went to middle school and high school together, but I hated her,” Bennett said. “We laugh about that now. I told her she and I would never date.”
After Bennett and Purnell started attending UNC, their relationship developed.
“One day I was sitting at home on the tractor, and I texted her for homework, and since that day we started dating,” said Bennett.
But it wasn’t just proximity that brought the two together — it was their common love of UNC and the process they went through to earn their degrees.
“Carolina was the height of our relationship because we were able to find ourselves,” Bennett said.
Bennett decided he wanted to add another ring to his girlfriend’s finger — and he wanted it to happen at UNC.
“It was this place, among these people, where we discovered we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together,” he said. “So I thought since we discovered it here, we should start our marriage here, and it’s something we can always visit and look back at.”
With the Loreleis offering to sing at the proposal, Bennett was able to secure one of his fiance’s favorite songs free of charge. Karli Krasnipol, a member of the Loreleis and a staff writer for The Daily Tar Heel, said it was the group’s pleasure.
“You have the opportunity to make someone happy,” Krasnipol said.
Purnell, who is now in graduate school at N.C. State University, said she expected her weekend to consist of a camping trip.
“I was not expecting it to happen today,” she said. “He told me it would be after I finished my graduate program next year.”
But Purnell said she is excited for the future.
“It wasn’t easy being able to graduate (from UNC), but it was a huge success, and just establishing the next milestone at UNC is amazing,” Purnell said.
The couple that found and grounded their love at UNC is looking forward to their wedding and said UNC will always be home.
“There is a sense of community and of love at Carolina — you may not realize when you’re here, but when you step back on campus you can feel it,” said Bennett. “It’s the sense of being together. People can downplay young love, but Carolina embraced it.”