Sometimes, it’s not love at first sight.
The way they talk about each other makes it seem like Nii Kpakpo Abrahams and Rachel Maddock have been in love forever. In reality, it took years to feel the butterflies of a budding crush between these two Bears.
“What I appreciate about Rachel is that she isn’t concerned or impressed by what I do – she loves me for who I am … which is the most freeing thing I’ve ever felt.”
“Nii is my biggest fan, and I pull from his strength, grace, and capacity on a daily basis. He makes me a better me and I’m so blessed to call him my husband, teammate and best friend.”
Their love of Chi Alpha brought them together for the first time. It took a mutual friend’s wedding, two first dates and a move across the country to realize they shared a serious connection.
Two unlikely paths cross
“I wish I could tell you it was this magical moment where my world stopped when I met her, but it was exactly the opposite,” Nii said. “There’s a lot of trial and error involved in finding love in college.”
The relationship took a while to begin because finding a soulmate was not the first thing on their minds. Rachel double majored in marketing research and marketing management in the College of Business. She went on to be a graduate assistant in the marketing department.
Nii has an unrivaled ambition for representing MSU. He was a public affairs award winner, SOAR leader, resident assistant, student ambassador, Chi Alpha leader, homecoming king and more.
“Once I visited campus for the first time, I immediately fell in love—and that was it!” Nii said.
Falling for MSU and each other
It wasn’t only Nii that loved campus. One of their favorite early memories together took place during homecoming 2017.
We got to walk around BearFest Village together, hang out with our Chi Alpha friends and just experience MSU’s great homecoming event,” Nii said. “That was a fun day for us.”
Nii’s deep love of Missouri State spilled over onto Rachel. Their love story began after a romantic evening in St. Louis.
Rachel: “He didn’t get home until 4:30 a.m. that morning even though he had work the next day!”
Nii: “Totally worth it.”
The best day of their lives
Countless dates at Eurasia surfaced in his mind when Nii decided to propose. He had big dreams about popping the question on Rachel’s graduation day.
“The most talented and generous friends ever helped me transform the intimate coffee shop into an art gallery,” he said.
They filled it with unique pieces inspired by their relationship, each handmade by those who knew them best.
“Before graduation day, I was so wrapped up in finals and the actual ceremony that I wasn’t thinking about anything else,” Rachel said. “I couldn’t see further than May 18. I was so preoccupied that I didn’t think much of how weird Nii was acting all week leading up to my graduation day.”
Nii was acting weird for a reason.
To top it all off, he planned it for the exact moment Rachel would least expect.
“I started to get suspicious right after the ceremony. The plan was to go grab coffee,” Rachel said. “We were on our way to Eurasia and he started brushing his hair in the car. He even had a mint in his mouth.”
The look on Rachel’s face as she stepped inside said it all. The atmosphere was romantic, heartfelt and full of intention. It was the perfect setup for the ‘YES!’ that marked the first moment of their next big adventure: Marriage.
Forever together, forever Bears
Since their wedding in 2018, they’ve moved to Indianapolis.
Rachel is a social media manager for a nonprofit and is pursuing her master’s in clinical mental health counseling. Nii founded a church with his friends and is an admissions counselor at Anderson University.
They both still love to be on MSU’s campus whenever they can. They come back to see what’s changed and reminisce on the sweetest memories of their alma mater.
As it has been for years now, they will always be together, and they will always be Bears.
“If I could give any piece of advice to my fellow bears, it would be to take as much time as possible to discover who you are,” Nii said. “When two individuals who are authentically secure in themselves come together, it’s a wonderful thing.”