The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

Follow us on Instagram

Lex get together for a blind date

Blind date couple Madison Blair and Emma Grace Hague talk to the other blind date couple, Sam Wakeman and Shelby Hayes, during dinner on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, at Bella Cafe in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff

Editor’s Note:

Each year, the Kentucky Kernel sets up two couples on a blind date, with Editor-in-Chief Hannah Stanley and Managing and Photo Editor Abbey Cutrer selecting students based on their answers to a survey about their personality, sexual preference and hopes for the date.

On Wednesday, Feb. 7, the couples met up for their dinner at Bella Cafe and Grille, courtesy of the Kernel, with the possibility of meeting their college sweetheart or, at the very least, a friend.


Sam Wakeman and Shelby Hayes

Before the date


Biomedical engineering major Sam Wakeman prepares for his blind date at his dorm on Feb. 7, 2024, in Lexington Kentucky. Photo by Matthew Mueller | Staff

Sam Wakeman: Inside Sam Wakeman’s dorm, he prepares for his first blind date, which just so happens to be his first date in about a year. 

Wakeman is a 20-year-old biomedical engineering major at the University of Kentucky who’s involved with UK Club Soccer and the Christian Student Fellowship, the latter of which sees him cooking and serving pancakes anywhere from 11 p.m. up until 3 a.m., he said. 

Recovering from a kickball-induced black eye, Wakeman covered up the bruise with the help of his friends’ make-up collection before the blind date. 

His friends also helped him pick out an outfit, settling on black dress pants and a silver-toned dress shirt.

“At first, it was basically one of my friends called me and told me (the Kernel) didn’t have a guy to do it,” Wakeman said about the date. “So then we went through like a list of people ‘cause I was trying to set up some of my friends, and then instead none of them worked out, so they were like ‘You wanna do it?’ and I was like ‘Alright.’”

He was not intimidated by the fact that he was getting ready to go on a date with a total stranger, he said. Instead, Wakeman sat still inside his dorm, excited and ready to meet his potential partner. 

Wakeman said that all he was looking for in a girl was someone who was Christian and someone who made conversation easily. 

“The only thing I was told was that she’s Christian, that’s it. I’ll figure out everything else,” he said. 

When it came time to leave for the restaurant, Wakeman grabbed the bouquet of flowers he put together for his date, put on his cologne, brushed his teeth and was on his way out.

Sophomore nursing major Shelby Hayes curls her hair in her apartment at the University Flats while getting ready for her blind date on on Feb. 7, 2024, in Lexington Kentucky. Photo by Ella Porter | Staff

Shelby Hayes: As Shelby Hayes got ready for her first-ever blind date, her dorm room came alive with energetic chatter from her roommates, who served as spectators as she prepared to meet a stranger.

Hayes, a UK sophomore from Indianapolis majoring in nursing, said she wasn’t as nervous as she thought she’d be in the hour leading up to the date.

“This is out of my comfort zone, for sure,” she said. “I’m a little nervous, but I’m very open-minded about it.”

Hayes’ roommates supported her throughout her process of getting ready, complimenting her casual yet date-appropriate outfit and wishing her well as she curled her hair and put on makeup.

Hayes had no expectations for the blind date — she said hadn’t been on a date since November and had signed up for it while bored in class after her friends sent the application link in a group chat.

“I’m a Christian,” Hayes said. She said she was hoping to have fun and make friends during the date, but also keep her connection with her faith and to “glorify the Lord through whatever it is.”

Hayes is deeply involved with her faith and a part of the Christian campus ministry, CRU. She said she also has plans to go on a mission trip in Hungary during the summer.

Above all, Hayes said she hoped the date wouldn’t be awkward. “I hope they’re nice, sweet, I guess, and funny,” she said.

One of her roommates joked about crashing the date and watching it unfold for themselves as Hayes wrapped sections of her hair around her curling iron.

As Hayes left for her blind date, her roommates sent her off with excited encouragement.

“See you soon,” one roommate said as she walked out the door. 


After the date


Sam Wakeman and Shelby Hayes eat dinner during their blind date on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, at Bella Cafe in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff

Sam Wakeman: Upon meeting each other in Bella Cafe and Grille, Wakeman and Hayes were smiling wide yet nervous as he handed her the bouquet he arranged for her. 

The conversation between the two didn’t stop after she thanked him for the bouquet, and during the dinner, their wide smiles didn’t leave their faces.

Wakeman and Hayes had their entrees, as well as a rum pudding for dessert, but they lingered in the restaurant long after they’d arrived.

Following the date, Wakeman was smitten. He said that he and Hayes were planning on seeing each other after dinner, as she agreed to drive him back to his dorm.

“It was really enjoyable, it was good the entire time,” he said. 

Wakeman said the two of them talked about anything and everything, from family to academics and their time in high school. 

“She’s very open about just general things in her life, about her faith, there just wasn’t really anything that I didn’t like,” he said. 

The pair headed to Hayes’ car, already having exchanged information with each other. 

Two days after their initial meeting, the two were still hanging out together. Wakeman said they “know a lot of the same people” and will “probably” continue to hang out. 

Sam Wakeman and Shelby Hayes pose for a picture after their blind date on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, at Bella Cafe in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff

Shelby Hayes: Hayes said she was pleasantly surprised when she walked into the Bella Cafe to find Sam standing near the entrance with a bouquet of flowers.

“He didn’t even know who I was, so I thought it was really sweet that he thought to do that,” she said.

In fact, Hayes used the word “sweet” quite a bit to describe the date, calling Wakeman a “really sweet guy.”

Their date was a good combination of interesting conversation along with high-quality food. Shelby said she deeply enjoyed her burger and even more so her dessert, explaining that it was an item with caramel, but “I don’t even know how to pronounce it,” she said with a laugh.

During the pair’s lengthy conversation about family and faith, they also discussed their respective involvement in campus ministries.

Their talk lasted the entire date, not even interrupted by Hayes’ friends — as previously alluded, the roommates made good on their promise to come to the restaurant and watch the date unfold.

Hayes said her friends had arrived before she and Wakeman had even sat down. She introduced them to him, and the two groups ate separately, though they still spectated the date from the other side of the window outside.

By the end of the date, Hayes and Wakeman had already swapped contact information, and Hayes drove him back to his dorm.

When contacted on Friday, two days after the date, Hayes said Wakeman had asked her if she wanted to go to the Christian Student Fellowship’s Midnight Pancakes event with him that evening. Hayes said she already had plans, “but if not, then me and my friends might end up going.” 

Hayes said she’s thinking of being friends with Wakeman, and the door is open for plans in the future.


Madison Blair and Emma Grace Hague

Before the date


Political Science major Madison Blair gets ready for her blind date on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, at her apartment in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff

Madison Blair: Madison Blair prepares for her first blind date inside her apartment as upbeat music plays and her cat, Willow, scurries about.

Blair is a senior political science major at UK with a minor in philosophy. She’s also pursuing a certificate in peace studies to go along with her degree and currently interning with the Kentucky State Senate in Frankfort. Blair is on the public forum debate team, participates in Model UN and is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha. 

While spending the day at her internship, she said she was stressed about the date but finally let go of her nerves as it drew near. 

“Honestly (I’m) mostly just nervous and excited, I think at this point I’ve, like, decided that I’m gonna be okay with whatever happens ‘cause I don’t want to put too much stress on it for real,” Blair said.

She said she knew she wanted to try the blind date when she was a junior. 

“So I read the (blind date) article from this last year and I was like ‘Aw, that’s cool and fun,’” she said. “One of the girls said something that stuck with me, she said ‘It’s my senior year, and I really wanna do things that challenge me, like put me out of my comfort zone,’ and I was like ‘Oh my god, that’s gonna be me next year,” she said. 

Blair said she had to have some push from her friends to ultimately follow through with the date at first. 

Political Science major Madison Blair gets ready for her blind date on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, at her apartment in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff

“I haven’t done too many things that, like, super push my comfort zone my senior year, so I was like ‘You know what? I’ll just apply and see what happens,’” she said. “I got the email that I got picked, and I texted my friends and I sent them a screenshot and said ‘I’m not going.’”

Blair said she knows what she’s looking for in a partner, mostly needing someone to match her impressive LinkedIn profile. 

“I like somebody who’s very, like, motivated, kind of ambitious, cause like I have a lot of career goals, I definitely want somebody who’s on a similar path with similar goals,” she said. 

Blair headed off to the date, saying goodbye to Willow and her roommate.  

Junior Emma Grace Hague gets ready for her blind date on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, at The University Flats in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Sydney Turner | Staff

Emma Grace Hague: As a member of UK’s Student Activities Board, a resident adviser, a volunteer at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital, a public health major studying for her MCAT and — to top it all off — a future medical school applicant, Emma Grace Hague loves being involved on campus and meeting different people.

Despite all that, though, Hague said she was nervous about going on a blind date.

Hague, already dressed for her date, did her makeup herself (on account of living alone as a resident adviser) before she left for dinner. She said she had never been on a blind date before and couldn’t help being a little worried.

“I have no idea what to expect,” Hague said.

Hague said she has friends at the Kernel who suggested that she sign up for it.

“I have a couple friends that are on the Kernel, and I’ll be kind of real, they were like, ‘You should apply for this, it would be funny,’ and I was like ‘Okay, period.’ Like sure, why not?” Hague said. “I kind of just did it for the bit, didn’t think I would get picked. Didn’t think I would say yes either.”

The decision to go on the date, she said, was the culmination of encouragement from her mom and all of the friends she talked to about it.

Hague said she thought the opportunity for the blind date was a unique one as “I feel like this doesn’t really happen anymore, because of dating apps and stuff.” She said that was also one of the reasons why she thought it could be fun.

“It’s just a silly little story, and like what do you have to lose honestly?” Hague said.

A vegetarian, Hague was at first worried about the food options that the restaurant would have, but her concerns were alleviated once she looked up Bella Cafe’s menu online.

Hague said she mainly wanted to have fun and meet someone who she could have a nice conversation with.

“I hope they’re not super intense about this, not that that’s a bad thing, but I don’t want it to be like them having really high hopes about something and then I’m not really able to give that,” she said. “I hope that they’re conversational, I’m a very chatty person.”


After the date


Madison Blair and Emma Grace Hague eat dinner during their blind date on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, at Bella Cafe in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff

Madison Blair: When the pair met for the first time, Blair realized they did not know each other, which she said was a relief to her anxieties.

The conversation flew between the two, with laughs and smiles ever-present at the dinner table. 

“It was really fun … We sat down and we were like ‘Yeah, this is awkward, but that’s okay,’ and the conversation after that was really easy,” Blair said. 

Blair ordered tiramisu as a dessert but saved most of it to take it home to eat later.

“I ate like a little bit of it ‘cause I was full, but it’s going in my fridge, it’s so good,” she said. 

Blair was still feeling out the situation by the end of the date, unsure of which way she was leaning due to the short amount of time she and Hague spent with each other. 

“I don’t really know, I definitely like talking to her and I would definitely like to be friends with her if nothing else, just kind of see where it goes,” she said. 

Blair and Hague’s conversation explored many different topics, as the pair discussed anything and everything they could think of. 

“You know when you start a conversation at point A and then suddenly you’re at point Z and you don’t know how you got there?” she said. 

The pair was seated next to Wakeman and Hayes (whose date had not yet ended), and it was revealed to them that they were all on blind dates. 

Blair and Hague exchanged numbers and amicably parted ways for the night. 

A few days after the date, Blair had reached out to Hague again, hoping to continue to at least being friends. 

Madison Blair and Emma Grace Hague exchange contact information after their blind date on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, at Bella Cafe in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff

Emma Grace Hague: Even as the restaurant was set to close soon and the pair’s time together dwindled, Hague said her company and the food succeeded in impressing her.

Bella Cafe’s vegetarian options were perfect for Hague, who had an “impossible” burger and a cheesecake for dessert, which she said was delicious.

Blair also proved to be a fantastic conversation partner for Hague, who went into the date very nervous. Hague said that even during lulls in the conversation, she didn’t feel awkward or nervous once she got into it.

“At first it was super awkward, like about as awkward as you could expect,” Hague said. “And then as soon as we sat down, we kind of just talked nonstop.”

She said the date went very well and that she had even lost track of time while talking to Blair.

They talked at great length about everything that came to mind, getting past formalities like each other’s year and major and eventually sharing embarrassing stories with each other.

“We also had some really deep conversations about just, like, life in general. It was a good time,” she said.

Hague said she was interested in spending time with Blair again and exchanged phone numbers as they left the restaurant.

Upon following up, Hague said she and Blair had not yet made any plans to meet up again but had chatted a little since the date.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Kentucky Kernel Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *