Odell and Hilary Van Kuiken Mitchell, both ’07
Odell: O'Fallon, Ill.
Hilary: New Lenox, Ill.
Odell: Music Business
Hilary: Commercial Music
When, where, and how did you first meet at Millikin?
Odell: I first met Hilary during an ultimate Frisbee game. I was a sophomore and she was a freshman, and our Intervarsity chapter was playing against the Richland Intervarsity chapter. I distinctly remember her killing it during that game!
Hilary: I noticed him the first Friday I was at Millikin at an Intervarsity meeting and thought, “That guy seems awesome … I wonder if he’s dating anyone.” I wouldn’t think about that second part again until a year and a half later!
What do you remember about the first time meeting each other?
Odell: She laughed at my jokes! I thought she was really cool, down-to-earth and comfortable in her own skin. We became fast friends.
Hilary: He befriended nearly everyone and was so easy to talk to and joke around with. I was impressed with his ability to relate with people and make them laugh and not leave anyone out of the fun! He genuinely cared about everyone.
What did you do on your first date?
Odell: Because of how we came to be together, it’s hard to pinpoint a first date. However, there was a distinct tipping point in that “Oh my gosh, I think I’m totally into her!” phase. One year, I happened to stay at school during a fall break. Unaware that she had done the same, I set the away message for my AOL Instant Messenger (that’s right. Remember those days?) to something like, “Bored over break. If anyone wants to hang out and play some video games or something, let me know.” Not long after that, she IM’d me: “I’m here, I’m bored, and did someone say video games?!” So, we grabbed a pizza and spent the evening playing games, watching movies and talking about anything and everything. It was a really special night and to this day, we still very much enjoy gaming together!
Hilary: I think our “official” first date was on Valentine’s Day in 2006. We had both FINALLY admitted we wanted to be together a week or two before. Odell made me a nice candlelight dinner. Roasted Dijon chicken and potatoes, Caesar salad with homemade dressing. Dude can cook? SCORE.
Where was your favorite place to hang-out together at Millikin?
Odell: The Perkinson Music Center lobby benches. We were bona fide PMC Bench Warmers! In fact, when I proposed to Hilary, the fanfare included being in the lobby surrounded by all of our friends.
Hilary: Definitely PMC, and at the house Odell lived in over on Prairie Street.
What is your most memorable Millikin experience as a couple?
Odell: We were in choir together during most of our time at Millikin. During my senior year, I cherished the places we sang together with University Choir. From the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., to Miami, Fla., at Millikin’s first appearance at the national conference of the American Choral Directors Association, the memory of singing and representing Millikin alongside Hilary still fills me with pride and joy.
Hilary: Our first choir tour together. It was before we had started dating, and we both got back to school early and hung out a bunch before we left for tour. Then we sat next to each other on the tour bus, which really was what got the ball rolling for our soon-to-be relationship.
Where has your relationship taken you since Millikin?
Odell: We now live in downtown Chicago, and we love it! Between our jobs, our friends, our church family and our creative endeavors, we’ve been blessed rather exceedingly. We’ve been through a lot in the five years since we married, but we know we’re just getting started.
Hilary: The first five years were a whirlwind of both good and bad, and I think that’s common for newlyweds. But I wake up every morning thankful for our past struggles and successes, and I am so excited for our future. I learn more and more about Odell every single day and cherish every minute of this journey. Now, I’m working for an interactive media company and Odell is in law school. We are preparing for what new ventures will come after he graduates!
What advice would you give young couples in love at Millikin?
Odell: Know that what lies ahead is greater than that which is in the past. Take that knowledge to heart and use it to make great memories at Millikin – memories that will only serve to season your future with joy as time passes.
Hilary: People change, go different directions, decide new paths after college. Take advantage of the time and friends you have now at Millikin, but embrace the change and newness that the next seasons of life will bring to your relationship.
Want to share your story of how you found love at Millikin? Email Jaclyn Weisenborn '09, associate director of alumni engagement, with your expressed interest. One couple will be featured each month in MY Times.