Class of 2021: An Orientation to Graduation Love Story

RIC Class of 2021 graduates Ananya Jantawan and Jeffery Kinnie pose for a graduation photo
Rhode Island College Impact

Ananya Jantawan and Jeffery Kinnie met during freshmen orientation. As college careers come to an end, their love story continues.

Ananya Jantawan and Jeffery Kinnie met on June 21, 2016 in the cafe of the Student Union, during their freshmen orientation. Now their college careers are coming to an end, but their love story continues. 

Both are psychology majors who will walk across the Commencement stage to receive their diplomas on May 15.

On orientation day, when Jeffery saw Ananya walk by him, he thought she looked like the kind of girl he would like to talk to, but it took him a while to find the courage to ask if he could sit on the other side of the table. “It was kind of awkward,” Ananya recalls. “He sat in front of me and I didn’t know what to say.”

Feeling a bit shy, she asked him to help her with some questions on a form she was filling out. Since that moment, Jeffery has been her friend, companion and partner.

“Throughout orientation day we had the same activities, although we had different orientation leaders to follow,” recalls Jeffery. “She was the one going around taking pictures of everyone in every building and posting them on Instagram.”

A selfie of students Ananya Jantawan and Jeffery Kinnie at their freshmen orientation
A selfie taken by the future couple in Donovan Dining Center during freshmen orientation

Five years later, on commencement day, they were close enough to take pictures of each other. “We had a photoshoot on the RIC Quad…” begins Jeff, as Ananya completes the sentence, adding, “with our cap and gown on.”

Both are very excited and hopeful to continue their lives together and eventually have a family. Before the engagement ring goes on her finger, however, they are planning to support each other through their postgraduate plans. Jeffery is pursuing a master’s degree in school psychology at RIC and was recently offered a job with Butterfly Effects, a company improving the lives of children and families affected by autism spectrum disorder. Ananya is planning to start work for Bierman ABA, also assisting children with autism, and continue helping her mother run their family restaurant in Narragansett. 

For Ananya, who was born in Thailand and moved to the United States in 2011, attending college and meeting Jeffery has been a journey and a learning experience. Jeffery, on the other hand, is a native Rhode Islander. Although their cultures are different, they are learning from each other, and working together to minimize the differences. “Her parents are more accepting of me,” Jeff says. “I met her father in Thailand last year and he just wants to make sure that I take care of Ananya.” 

As they have achieved their educational goals, their love has grown. Ananya feels that Jeffery keeps her grounded. “He helps me calm down because he is very patient, while I go real fast and do everything right away,” she says. “It’s good to have someone to stop you.” 

“She is very motivating to me,” Jeffery counters. “I am very laid back, and she makes sure that I finish assignments on time. She pushes me to become better academically and in other areas.”

Ananya is grateful for the opportunity that her education at RIC has provided her – and to have had her boyfriend by her side, supporting her  throughout it. “He is very patient and always says, ‘You can do it.’”