When Kevin Stairiker and Jenelle Janci shook hands for the first time in The Temple News’ office, they had no idea they would get engaged in the same spot a few years later.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, The Temple News is celebrating couples who fell in love at Temple University. Stairiker, a 2014 journalism alumnus, and Janci, a 2015 journalism alumna met while working at The Temple News in 2012, and currently work at LancasterOnline, an online news publication based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Although the two first met while Janci was an entertainment editor at The Temple News in 2012, she already was intrigued by Stairiker after reading his music column, “Fear of Music.” As a fellow music lover, she was impressed by his knowledge on the subject.
The two automatically clicked when Janci wore a Desaparecidos shirt and Stairiker commented on it.
“Kevin immediately said, ‘Oh, that’s Desaparecidos, that’s Conor Oberst’s punk band, right?’ And I was like, ‘How does this guy know this?’” Janci said. “So, I immediately was intrigued, because I was like, ‘Okay, he clocked my shirt, he like knows stuff?’”
They began hanging out with a group of friends who also worked at The Temple News, and together they’d have “family dinners” and movie nights.
Even though they were with a group, it was increasingly obvious Stairiker and Janci were drawn to each other.
“I remember texting him for hours even before that first date when we were ‘friends,’” Janci said. “I just remember I couldn’t talk to him enough. I thought everything he had to say was the next best thing I had heard.”
Their friend group planned to go to a Father John Misty concert at Union Transfer in 2012, but Janci and Stairiker were the only people who actually bought tickets. They decided to go together anyway, and it turned into an accidental first date. After the show, they stopped to get Frosties at the Wendy’s on Broad Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
Stairiker walked Janci back to her apartment at The Edge and got on his bike. As she was walking up the stairs, Janci received a phone call from him asking her to come back down. She tried to find out what he needed on the phone, but Stairiker convinced her to come downstairs.
After only one date, Stairiker asked her to be his girlfriend.
“He started stumbling over his words, and he was like, ‘You know that one NSYNC song, it’s like, ‘Would you want to be my girlfriend?’’’ And I was like, ‘Are you asking me to be your girlfriend?’” Janci said.
The couple began dating and bonded over bands like Dr. Dog and Waxahatchee. They also frequented concerts and the DIY house show venues around North Philadelphia.
When Janci graduated in 2015, she moved to Lancaster by herself after accepting a job at LancasterOnline. Six months later, a job opened up at Fly Magazine, a magazine LancasterOnline prints that covers nightlife. Janci suggested Stairiker apply for the position, giving the company full disclosure that he was her boyfriend.
Stairiker got the position and joined Janci in Lancaster, but the couple occasionally would come back to Philadelphia.
In November 2019, Stairiker made plans to go to the Barnes Foundation museum. Then, Janci convinced him to watch a documentary about the museum the night before, while Stairiker knew full well he intended to propose instead of taking her to the museum.
When they arrived in Philadelphia, Stairiker suggested they visit Temple to see the new Charles Library, and they made a detour to The Temple News’ office once on campus. Stairiker had previously reached out to The Temple News and said he wanted to propose to his girlfriend in the spot where they met.
“In my head, I was like, ‘Is it crazy to do that? The Temple News office? It’s literally where we met,’ but at the same time, it’s an office,” Stairiker said.
Stairiker got down on one knee right in front of Janci’s old desk and asked her to marry him.
Following the proposal, the couple called Joseph Cranney, their mutual friend and editor-in-chief of The Temple News from 2013-14.
Cranney, who hosted staff dinners at his house and was there to witness the beginning of their love story, was overjoyed to hear about the engagement.
“I was walking down the street and [Janci] called me, and I came to a stop and collapsed to the ground because I was so happy,” Cranney said.
The couple plans to get married on their 10th anniversary, Oct. 22, 2022. Their first dance song will be “Nothing Can Change This Love,” by Sam Cooke, one of the songs that first connected them while they were attending Temple.
“I tweeted something where I said, ‘Dear future husband, I hope you enjoy slow dancing to Sam Cooke,’ and then Kevin replied to it and said, ‘Sam Cooke’s one of my favorite singers,’” Janci said.
Correction: A previous version of this story wrongfully stated whose idea it was to plan a trip to the Barnes Foundation museum. Kevin Stairiker planned the trip. It has been corrected.