An ‘I do’ at OU

By Stephanie Sokol

As the New Year’s countdown ended, Kaniqua Daniel and Stefen Welch celebrated atop the Eiffel Tower with a group of close friends on Jan. 1, 2011. Stefen had told Kaniqua that they would go there someday and the dream had come true. At 12:01 a.m., atop the famous structure in the city of love, Stefen got down on one knee and asked Kaniqua for her hand in marriage. She said “yes.”

At first sight

“Stefen always puts a lot of effort into every detail,” Kaniqua said. “It’s how he shows me he cares.”

Stefen, a communication major and Kaniqua, a journalism major were friends for a long time. Their story started 12 years ago, on their first official day as Oakland University freshmen.

Welch sat in a Music Theory class on Sept. 6, 2000, anticipating the beginning of class. A few minutes after it began, special lecturer Phyllis White acknowledged that a young woman walked into class tardy. That moment began a friendship that would, with time, blossom into something more.

“Both Kaniqua and Stefen have a real spark,” White said. “There was an energy between them and it was evident that something special was going on.”

Stefen was surprised to see Kaniqua in his next class as well. The two joked that they thought they were being followed by each other.

“I was a little intrigued and wanted to know who he was,” Kaniqua said.

After that first week, Stefen sat next to Kaniqua in the classes they shared. They began spending time together, studying and hanging out in the Oakland Center often.

Timing had been off for dating during the university years, but they remained close friends. Kaniqua and Stefen spent a lot of time together, walking to class and hanging out on campus.

“I’m really excited for them,” Bridesmaid and OU alum Ashli Bobo said. “They started out as friends. It was really cool to see the friendship develop into a relationship and now marriage.”

After graduating, the two stayed in touch. In 2007, Stefen called Kaniqua for fundraising for the Farmington YMCA. They finally reunited that December for an interview.

“I remember looking at him and thinking, why are we not together?” Kaniqua said.

Atop the Eiffel Tower

On April 24, 2008, Kaniqua and Stefen went on their first real date. They met at Mitchell’s Fish Market in Birmingham. The waiter thought they’d been dating a long time, according to Stefen.

After that day, the two spent more time together. On their first trip, they went to Las Vegas and dined at The Eiffel Tower Restaurant, where they first said “I love you” and Stefen declared he would one day take her to Paris.

Their relationship grew as they did, but Stefen and Kaniqua claim that OU had a big impact on their lives both academically and socially, not only bringing them together, but also building character.

As students, they were both involved at the school. Kaniqua, now Program Supervisor for Detroit Public Schools, was Features Editor for The Oakland Post, on staff for three years and a Member of the Association of Black Students. Stefen, now Community Development Director for Vanguard Community Development, was President of the Association of Black Students, Student Congress Legislator and a member of the OU Leadership Institute.

A few years after graduation, they returned as alumni, dedicating their time to Oakland through volunteering. Both are members of the OU Alumni Association as well as the Oakland Post Sail Board, giving back to the place where it all began.

“Kaniqua and Stefen have unwavering support for their alma mater,” Luke Fleer, associate director of alumni engagement said. “They give their time and treasure full circle back to the university, through recruitment and yielding future students, retention efforts of current student and immediate engagement of young alumni in Metro Detroit.”

Because of the impact the school has had on their lives, the couple knew OU was the perfect place to have their wedding.

The ceremony will take place at Meadow Brook Hall, on Saturday, June 9, with members of the university and old college friends in the audience. Professor White will perform music during their wedding. The reception will be in the OC, where their friendship began.

“OU helped me grow as a person,” Stefen said. “It’s where we met. There are so many great memories here. It just makes sense to have our wedding here.”

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Contact Multimedia Reporter Stephanie Sokol via email at [email protected] or follow on Twitter @StephanieSokol