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Homecoming and Hitched: This weekend has long created lasting relationships

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Friday the 13 has a history of being a day full of good memories for Joshua and Kena Hawkins.

Planning two weeks in advance, Joshua proposed to his then girlfriend, Kena, in front of Edmon Low Library’s orange fountain during Oklahoma State's Homecoming on that infamous day in 2017. However, when Joshua got off work that Friday, a friend sent him a picture and, for a moment, it presented a problem.

The fountain’s water was green.

“The plan all along was to propose in front of the fountain and so I’m, like, freaking out,” Joshua said. 

He said some Baylor fans, the team the Cowboys played in their Homecoming game, colored the water green.

Earlier, Joshua told Kena about an event he made up. It was outside the newly opened Spears School of Business and at the event he could connect with people about job opportunities, so the couple had to be nicely dressed. Joshua’s plan was to pick Kena up after he finished work, look at the house decorations at walkaround together, and stroll through Theta Pond leading them on the path in front of the library.

Joshua said once he received the message showing the fountain’s green water, he became nervous.

“I don’t have time to go check and see if the fountain had been changed colors,” Joshua said. “The photographer was going to meet us there, so the whole plan, possibly, was ruined.”

The thought of having his engagement pictures, the photos he and Kena would treasure, featuring a green fountain weakened his morale. But only for a moment.

Although he did not know how long it would take to turn the fountain back to orange, or even how the process of that would happen, he was going to propose to Kena with or without an orange fountain.

He did just that.

“I proposed in front of about 500 people seemingly watching and our photographer caught the whole thing, and it was great,” Joshua said.

Luckily, Friday the 13 paid off for the couple. As they walked from Theta Pond to the fountain, they saw in the distance an orange fountain. Somehow, after mere hours from Joshua getting off work to the couple walking on the path to the fountain, workers managed to return the orange hue to the water.

In front of the fountain, he stopped, held Kena’s hands, bent down on one knee and proposed.

“I kind of blacked out,” Kena said. “I think that’s a normal thing whenever somebody gets proposed to. I just don’t remember what he said. I know he said really kind, loving things, I just don’t know what it was anymore because I was so nervous.”

Throughout the day, Kena said he hid the surprise well and once she said ‘yes’ people cheered. Then they had their engagement photos taken among the Homecoming festivities.

“I remember feeling, like, totally on cloud nine, walking around with my new fiancé holding hands taking pictures on campus,” Kena said. “It was like, all of a sudden everyone was there having a party for me.”

During their time at OSU, neither Kena nor Joshua were part Greek life. Kena said she was active in building Stout Hall’s float in her freshman year but since then, they have both enjoyed the Homecoming activities. 

Kena has overall fond memories of Homecoming and her favorite to remember or tell is getting proposed to at Homecoming. However, this event is not only a story to tell about Homecoming, it is an event solidified in the couple’s relationship. 

“But now I kind of see Homecoming as my anniversary to that event even if it wasn’t on the same day, so that’s kind of special for us,” Kena said. “It just feels like the reliving of it.”

For the rest of their engagement day, the couple then walked back to Joshua’s house where he had a dinner prepared. When they finished their meal, Kena was surprised with an engagement party at a new coffee shop in town, Balanced Coffee Co. 

“It was super special,” Kena said.

Picking Homecoming to propose to Kena was not because of the photo opportunities, it was due to the idea that after graduation, the couple may not stay in Stillwater. Joshua said their engagement beginning at OSU’s Homecoming gave the couple an excellent excuse to return for not only the school's celebration but also, their relationship.

“We’ve been to every Homecoming game since then, so I guess it worked out,” Joshua said.

Joshua graduated May 2018 and Kena walked December 2018. After the couple married, they moved away from Stillwater but have since then settled back in the town where Joshua is pursuing his MBA and Kena teaches fourth grade.

“Stillwater is just so special,” Kena said.