Dating since 16 years old, married at 19 and pregnant at 27. Mya Fenderson, a ‘17 French alumna who is pursuing a master’s in teaching at Chapman, had her life figured out a young age.
In addition to Fenderson, some other students at Chapman have advanced to more committed stages in a relationship: engagement and marriage. Sixty-three percent of women want to meet their husband in college, according to a study conducted by the Independent Women’s Forum and 83 percent agreed with a statement that said “Being married is a very important goal for me.”
While Fenderson, who is now 32, met her husband before college, her marriage has lasted through early adulthood and her undergraduate career. The relationship survived pregnancy, her time with the Air Force and the pressures of school.
“It is a little weird to think back on how we were so willing to get married at that young age, but so far it’s been great,” Fenderson said.
For Fenderson, her marital status wasn’t the reason she felt different – it was the duties that came with it.
“Being older, married and a parent meant that I had a lot of other responsibilities outside of school, and I would usually prioritize hanging out with my family over school social events,” Fenderson said.
For Fenderson, having the aid of a significant other has proven to be positive.
“(My husband) definitely supports my decision to attend Chapman,” Fenderson said. “I actually left behind a very lucrative career to come back to school (in 2015), study French and become a French teacher. Since I started at Chapman, my husband has been the primary breadwinner for our family.”
Colette Grubman, a junior English and integrated educational studies major, became engaged to Michael Kolinsky, a junior business administration and Spanish major, two years after meeting at Chapman Hillel freshman year and finding a connection through their Jewish identities.
“I basically knew that he was ‘the one’ after two weeks (of dating),” Grubman said. “I dated enough other people to know.”
Kolinsky proposed to Grubman Aug. 21, the day of the solar eclipse. The two discussed getting married in 2019 or 2020, after they both graduate, she said.
“We just decided to do a longer engagement so we wouldn’t stress over planning, and we both have jobs lined up after college, so we wanted to be settled,” Grubman said.
Their post-graduation plans ended up geographically close to each other, within an hour apart. Grubman will work in college counseling while Kolinsky plans to work with his family’s business, and they agreed to live somewhere in the middle, she said.
Grubman said there hasn’t been much of a change in her social life after getting engaged.
“I still go out and party and no one cares,” she said. “I wear my ring and guys don’t really care. Some guys, it seems like they hit on you more because they think it’s attractive. We both are really open so it’s not really an issue, and our friends support us.”
Grubman has a couple of friends who are also in long-term relationships and another friend who recently got engaged, she said. Her parents and future in-laws have given their approval and add to her support system, she said.
While some students choose lifelong commitment early on, others have decided to wait.
Josie Tiffany, a sophomore health sciences major, is in a serious long-distance relationship and has discussed the possibility of marriage with her boyfriend.
“We both have the same ideas, in a way. We both want to be financially stable. We will only get married if we have jobs and we have figured out all of our finances up to that point,” Tiffany said. “I would rather have a job, have a good income and figure out my credit score before getting involved with the real-life implications.”
For Tiffany, learning to be self-sufficient is important before making a commitment.
“If I’m in college, I’m still technically a kid that’s relying on my parents. So I’d rather be independent and figure out my own life before getting married,” Tiffany said.