During senior year, soon-to-be graduates are often asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” In January 2018, then PRA seniors Arianna Campbell and Spencer Herivel celebrated their first anniversary as a couple. They were looking forward to graduating and never expected that in five years they would be engaged to be married.
“It’s funny looking back at us then it was such a high school relationship,” Campbell said. “If I had asked my senior year self if we would still be together in five years, I’d probably have said no. High school relationships end a lot of time. It’s crazy that now we’re engaged.”
The path from being high school sweethearts to now being engaged wasn’t a linear one for Campbell and Herivel. Much of the last five years has been spent apart as both pursued their post-high school passions. But both credit that path with bringing them to where they are today.
The year after graduation the path took Campbell to CSU in Fort Collins while Herivel took a gap year. It was the beginning of a four-year long-distance relationship with the distance increasing when Herivel moved to Oklahoma for flight school. Distance learning due to the COVID pandemic allowed a brief reprieve as Campbell spent several months in Oklahoma with Herivel as she did classes remotely.
“In the moment we didn’t want to do long distance, but in the long run it was very good for us,” Herivel said. “During my gap year with Ari at CSU I was seeing her every weekend. When I moved to Oklahoma it turned into an actual long distance. But it made us stronger.”
Both agreed that at first, there was fear in having a long-distance relationship but they found that fear wasn’t based in reality. Campbell said it was ultimately the long distance relationship that showed them they had found the person they wanted to be with.
“At the start, and it happened more when he moved to Oklahoma, I thought that he’s creating a whole new life in a new place, and I was fearful of that,” she said. “But we never got close to calling it quits. We were both committed to pushing through the tough times, which there were. It was definitely hard going a couple of months without seeing each other. We had to learn different communication skills and how to be there for each other without seeing each other every day. That was especially hard after dating in high school and seeing each other every day of the week.”
It was a classmate’s birthday party that first brought Campbell and Herivel together. The class of 2018 was small so they had known each other but they didn’t become friends until junior year.
“We were at a mutual friend’s birthday party and Spencer started throwing glow sticks at me,” Campbell said. Herivel replied, “My flirt game was strong, obviously.”
After the party, Herivel asked her out on their first date. During the movie, Campbell said she kept inching her hand closer to his until finally he took her. She said she had a great time and it wasn’t until months later that Herivel described that moment from his perspective.
“He told me when he took my hand he felt like he got hit by a train, like he almost blacked out for a second,” she said.
“I was so nervous,” Herivel said. “I was sweating. It was the same feeling I got when I asked her dad if I could marry her.”
A couple of weeks after that first date, Herivel hid a rose up his sleeve and presented to Campbell in true The Bachelor/Bachelorette style (a nod to Campbell’s favorite shows) when he asked if she would be his girlfriend. The rose made a second appearance at their engagement.
While the couple agrees on most things, whether or not Campbell knew the engagement was coming is something they disagree on. She staunchly claimed she was shocked and had no idea it was coming when he proposed on July 23, 2022. He was sure she at least suspected. Herivel planned the proposal for two weeks before Campbell would be moving to Texas to join him. He flew to Colorado two weeks earlier than planned and told Campbell that he had set up a photo shoot with their good friend, Susie Carter.
“This was not out of the norm for us; we’ve done photo shoots several times so I just thought that we were taking new couples photos,” Campbell said. When he got down on one knee, I was completely shocked and the tears started flowing. It was exactly how I wanted it to go.”
Herivel said he knew what Campbell wanted for the proposal and planned accordingly. She wanted the proposal itself to be an intimate moment with just the two of them, and afterward she wanted to celebrate with their families. He coordinated with the photographer and Campbell’s sister, who flew in from New York to be part of the celebration.
“I hadn’t fully decided on the ring so her sister helped me with that,” Herivel said. “Asking her dad was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done. Just the idea that her dad was saying that I would be the new man in her life to watch over her. It was a serious thing for both of us. I was more scared to ask him than I was to ask her.”
After a short stint of living together in Texas, the couple is now living in Madison, Wisconsin, where Herivel is working as a flight instructor and Campbell is taking time to work as with a talent acquisition company before starting law school. They are planning the wedding for June 2024 and are close to nailing down the date and venue in Colorado.
“I’ve always dreamed about my wedding. I have Pinterest board after Pinterest board about weddings,” she said. “So far I’ve had a lot of opinions and he just agrees. But he says he’ll have more opinions on the cake, food and drinks.”
Once the wedding is behind them, they’ll see what the future holds for them. Campbell plans to start law school no later than the fall of 2024 and eventually they want to start a family. But for now, after years of living apart, they are enjoying building a life together in Madison.
“The best advice I could give the class of 2023 is to not let a high school relationship dictate your future,” Herivel said. “It’s important to focus on your path because it’s easy to be manipulated at that age.”
Campbell said the most important thing she and Herivel did as a couple was pursue their own paths post-graduation.
“Yes we were high school sweethearts, but we still chose what we individually wanted to do and we supported each other in those decisions,” she said. “The long-distance relationship allowed us to grow individually while we were still together. I was able to find myself without being attached to his hip. Since high school, we’ve grown a lot individually and as a couple.”
By Amy G. Partain
PRA Communications Manager