Here at Kenyon, love comes in all shapes and sizes. This Valentine’s Day, there are many kinds of Kenyon couples: Kenyon students, Kenyon professors, long-distance relationships, those who are ‘Kenyon Married’ and those who are married at Kenyon.
Jack Burczak ’23 and Somphors Tann ’23
It turns out taking an economics course during your sophomore year can get you into a relationship. At least, that was the case for Jack Burczak ’23 and Somphors “Sompa” Tann ’23.
“We met in the North Mod (which is now gone) during the fall of 2020,” Burczak said. “We were working on the same econ test and compared answers after we had submitted them virtually.”
Though they had just met, the two kicked it off quickly. “I thought she was kind, funny and smart, and we were able to hold a conversation for two hours after having just met,” Burczak said. For Tann, Burczak’s “knowledge of the world as well as his patience” stood out to her.
After getting to know one another, the couple gradually grew closer. They discovered their similarities and also some notable differences.
“Our taste in TV shows is pretty different. She likes feel-good Korean TV shows,” Burczak stated. “I like American comedies.”
Tann had rather an impassioned answer. “He really likes canned tuna, and I don’t,” she explained. “I hate canned tuna!”
Through it all, however, the couple shared the sides of their partner they most appreciate. For Tann, it was Burczak’s “calmness and caring,” while for Burczak, it was Tann’s “cheerfulness and perseverance.”
Jack Caine ’24
Arguably the most difficult type of relationship is the long-distance kind. Jack Caine ’24 is one of the many Kenyon students in this trying situation. His girlfriend attends Northeastern University in Boston. From Kenyon, it takes roughly 11 hours to drive to Northeastern.
Because of the distance between him and his girlfriend, there are some hardships that Caine has experienced. One of his biggest struggles? “Trying to figure out how to use USPS shipping,” he said.
Though Caine and his girlfriend are a ways apart, they do everything in their power to make up for the harshness of the long-distance relationship. “Synchronized touch lamps to dull waves of emptiness from being apart,” said Caine sarcastically, when asked about a remedy for the distance.
On a more serious note, Caine listed other ways to stay in touch: “planning for the next time we get to be together, romanticizing the distance by writing, … calling and FaceTime often. Making ambitious recipes that you discovered while apart that ended up being too ambitious. Bubble tea from scratch that took three hours when the recipe said 45 minutes.”
In the end, Caine states, “Long distance relationships are one part trust.” As for the other part, he suggests “equal sharing of cute animal videos.” For Caine, this is “a good character builder.”
Zoe Malouf ’25 and Madis Kennedy ’25
What originally began as a way to have a little fun, “Kenyon Married” soon became reality for Zoe Malouf ’25 and Madis Kennedy ’25.
In February 2022, the two received an astonishing match of 99.9% compatibility on the Marriage Pact, a project that uses an algorithm to match questionnaire respondents who are looking for their soulmate. “We did the Marriage Pact mostly for fun,” she said. Yet later that year, they entered into a relationship. Malouf calls their match on the “Marriage Pact” as a “goofy little fact” about their relationship.
In retrospect, Malouf can point to many different things that may have contributed to bringing her and Kennedy together in the fall of 2022. “It’s crazy that we ended up together because there were so many weird coincidences,” Malouf said. For one, they knew each other through a mutual friend before attending Kenyon. She also described attending parties that Kennedy happened to be at, including a minion-themed party in the Gund Residence Hall.
Many “Kenyon Married” pairs organize a fun ceremony of sorts to celebrate their relationship. Some even hold weddings. Though not legally official, it may include the hallmarks of any typical wedding: a ceremony, gifts, rings and reception.
For Valentine’s Day, the two had some ideas on how to enjoy the day together. “We might hit up the Mount Vernon bowling alley for Valentine’s Day; we’ve heard it’s pretty epic,” Malouf said.
Professor of English Jesse Matz and Acting President Jeff Bowman
Thirty years ago in Yale University’s Sterling Memorial Library, Professor of English Jesse Matz and Acting President Jeff Bowman met for the first time. They were both attending graduate school and happened to be at the card catalog at the same time.
A card catalog is an “ancient knowledge system,” according to Matz. It involves pulling out drawers and hand-copying call numbers, which, to him, was deeply satisfying.
“The fact that we were both loitering about that card catalog suggests that we were both determined knowledge-seekers and/or that we were malingerers trying to avoid writing our seminar papers,” Bowman wrote in an email to the Collegian. “I wandered around the card catalog frequently and aimlessly while struggling with papers on Burnetto Latini in Dante’s Inferno and the sculptural program of Sant Miquel de Cuixa.”
As for Matz, he was “researching the great woman novelist George Eliot and finding it funny that Yale’s ancient catalog system called her by her last married name (Mrs. Cross),” Bowman said.
Aside from their academic interests, the two enjoy partaking in several activities together. These ventures include cooking, which they thank Marcella Hazan, Yotam Ottolenghi and Dorie Greenspan for; eating; hiking (especially where there are mountains) and disagreeing about how to care for houseplants. Bowman says that Matz “really thinks they need a ton of water.”
In the end, Kenyon’s acting president believes that the Kenyon community should know about one crucial thing. “Everyone should know about love,” Bowman said.