Love is blind … but the Kernel can help


Maria Rauh

Ansley Colvin, left, and Brigid Whipp talk during their blind date on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, at Puccini’s Pizza Pasta in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Maria Rauh | Staff

Alexis Baker and Laurel Swanz

In a culture where dating decisions often take the form of split-second swipes on a phone screen, the Kernel wanted to offer four UK students the chance to find something deeper.

On Sunday, Feb. 12, we set up two couples on blind dates at Puccini’s Pizza Pasta, courtesy of the Kernel, to possibly meet their Valentine – or at least make a new friend.

The Kernel opened an application for any students at UK looking for love (and a free meal).

The four students were selected from the pool of applicants, paired up based on their responses to questions about their personality, sexual preference and what they were hoping to get out of the date. Editor-in-Chief Rayleigh Deaton and Managing Editor Hannah Stanley sat down and played matchmaker, pairing the couples that they believed would be the most compatible.

The participants knew nothing about their date going into the evening, giving them the chance to learn about someone else with no prior knowledge about them – a unique opportunity in today’s social media-inundated society.


Before the Date…

Ansley Colvin applies mascara while getting ready for her blind date on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, at University Flats in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Carter Skaggs | Staff

Ansley Colvin: Roommates Ansley Colvin and Lauryn Hagan signed up for the blind date together on a whim, not expecting to both be chosen. 

“We were just like, ‘Let’s do it for the plot,’ and then we both actually got picked!” Colvin, a 19-year-old architecture major, said. “So me and my roommate are both going on blind dates today.

Sunday night was more than Colvin’s first blind date — it was her first date ever. She said she has always “had bigger fish to fry” than being in a relationship. She spent her last two years of high school battling nephrotic syndrome and missed out on the dating experience many people gain at that age. 

This didn’t scare her, though.

“I feel like it’s just gonna be an experience and there’s nothing else I can do about it but be myself,” Colvin said. “I don’t ever like to force things, so just whatever happens, happens.”

Colvin was more nervous about the food selection at Puccini’s than the date itself, having lactose intolerance.

“I am dairy free so I’m a little nervous, but I heard (the food) is really good so that’s worth it,” she said.

If anything, Colvin said she hoped to gain “a good story to tell someone when (she’s) old” from the date. 

“I think that more people should do things for the plot to see how it goes,” she said.

Brigid Whipp applies makeup while getting ready for her blind date at Puccini’s Pizza Pasta on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Maria Rauh | Staff

Brigid Whipp: Freshman equine science and management major Brigid Whipp bought a new dress for what she said was her first date since she was 10. As she waited outside the restaurant, her emotions were a stirring mixture of excitement and anxiousness. What could go wrong? At least she’s going in style, right? 

Whipp went out on a limb and signed up for the blind date not expecting to be chosen, but her friends and family had been encouraging her to “put herself out there,” she said.  

While Whipp’s expectations of the date were up in the air since she had never been on a blind date before, her expectations of a future partner were not. As an avid animal lover, Whipp said she needs someone that understands that part of her.

“I hope they understand that sometimes (animals are) going to have to come first, but that doesn’t mean I love them any less,” Whipp said.

Whipp’s expectations of Puccini’s were not up in the air either. Having been there before, she said she enjoys their fettuccine alfredo.

“If it goes well, it goes well. If it doesn’t, I got free food,” Whipp said. 

After the Date…

Brigid Whipp, left, and Ansley Colvin talk during their blind date on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, at Puccini’s Pizza Pasta in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Maria Rauh | Staff

Ansley Colvin: An hour and a half later, Colvin left Puccini’s stuffed with angel hair pasta and tiramisu. 

“The food was great, one of the best tiramisus I’ve ever had,” she said. “It’s gonna hurt my stomach so bad later, but whatever.”

As for her date with Whipp, Colvin said it was “interesting, to say the least.” 

“We talked about our grandmas, I don’t know … I don’t know how it got there,” Colvin said. 

The pair acknowledged to one another that they weren’t each other’s type, but still had an enjoyable dinner together. 

“It was definitely worth it. It’s what you do in college, and I got free food!” Colvin said. “You can’t be pessimistic about it because there was nothing wrong with it at all. She was so nice, and she was a good person to have a conversation with at dinner.”

Colvin didn’t take the lack of a spark with Whipp personally, saying they both mentioned being picky about romantic partners. She left the date feeling grateful for the opportunity and excited for the debrief to follow with her roommate, Lauryn, and their suitemates. 

“Of course, we’re gonna talk about our contrasting experiences,” Colvin said, having finished her date before Hagan’s began. “There are five of us in our suite, and they were like, ‘we wanna hear everything.’ And so I’m not allowed to talk about it until Lauryn gets done with her date, and then we’re all gonna have popcorn, debrief … It’s gonna be tea!”

Although Colvin doesn’t anticipate a romantic pursuit will come out of the evening, she said she gained some perspective from the experience and will be more open to going on dates in the future. 

“Ask more people on dates, because what are you gonna lose? I think nowadays we are so obsessed with technology and hooking up and Tinder and all of that, just ask people out!” she said. “I’m just kind of living my life now and doing things that are out of my comfort zone. So yeah, I actually think I will (go on more dates), ‘cause why not? And I’ll know where to go!”

Ansley Colvin, left, and Brigid Whipp leave Puccini’s Pizza Pasta after their blind date on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Maria Rauh | Staff

Brigid Whipp: After an odd exit to a brief dinner, Whipp said she was not confident in a future with Colvin. 

“She was more interested in the food aspect of it, but she’s nice,” Whipp said.

Although Whipp went into her date with a bit of anxiety, she said that once she started talking, she felt fine. She took the initial step of putting herself out there, as her friends and family suggested.

Although Whipp said that she had fun and would recommend to her friends to go on blind dates as well, she was not the biggest fan of her company.

Whipp said that she could not see herself dating Colvin.

Whipp and Colvin did not exchange contact information on their date, and upon following up with Whipp, she said they have not contacted each other since the date.

A plus side of Whipp’s not-so-successful date was the food that she knows and loves.

Whipp got her classic fettuccine alfredo and a piece of chocolate cake.


Before the Date…

Lauryn Hagan curls her hair while getting ready before her blind date on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, at University Flats in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Carter Skaggs | Staff

Lauryn Hagan: Sophomore human health sciences major Lauryn Hagan pulled up to Puccini’s in a new outfit: a baby pink, puffy-sleeved top with ripped jeans, a black denim jacket and gold jewelry.

“I kind of used it as an excuse to get a new outfit,” Hagan said. “Cute and comfortable, pink for a Valentine’s Day kind of vibe!”

Hagan said she had never been on a blind date before that Sunday.

“I’m excited! I am a little nervous, but I’m just gonna see how it goes,” she said.

She said she was hoping to have a good conversation and make a new friend.

“If it’s more than that, it’s more than that,” Hagan said. 

Hagan has been in one long-term relationship before, which she said helped her learn more about herself and what she wants in a partner. 

“Someone who I’m compatible with, someone who is a little spontaneous and just kinda wants to have fun, someone who I can trust,” she said, describing her ideal match. “Kind of like ‘golden retriever energy,’ if you’ve heard that term before.”

Whether she was about to eat pasta with her dream man or not, Hagan was looking forward to whatever the night had in store. 

Elijah Vann puts on his shoes while getting ready for his blind date on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, at his apartment in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Brady Saylor | Staff

“I’m just excited to see what happens,” she said.

Elijah Vann: Wearing semi-casual attire and a beanie, freshman theater design major Elijah Vann arrived at his date with his heart set on food and “a good time.”

“I just did it for the food,” Vann said.

While food consumed most of his pre-date thoughts, Vann said he was feeling “shocked” that he was even picked and participating in the blind date. 

Having never been to Puccini’s, and usually an Olive Garden-goer, the night was sure to be one full of unknowns for Vann.

After the Date…

Lauryn Hagan: After her date with Vann, Hagan described the evening as “one of the best dinner conversations I’ve ever had.”

The pair talked about “pretty much everything there is to talk about,” Hagan said, and they discovered they have a lot in common.

“I feel like we had similar personalities,” she said. “The conversation was never awkward for the entire time. We just shifted from topic to topic.”

Hagan and Vann discussed everything from music to traveling to career aspirations to hometowns.

They discovered a shared love for concerts and the bands The Backseat Lovers and COIN.

“He saw them (The Backseat Lovers) in concert so we talked about that. And then we were just kind of suggesting music suggestions to each other,” Hagan said. 

Hagan has since listened to one of Vann’s suggestions, the band ThirdStory, and loved it.

“I’ve been listening to it all day and it’s actually really good!” she said on the following Tuesday.

They discussed a shared dream to travel to Australia and their separate dreams of becoming a pediatric physician’s assistant and a theatrical lighting designer. 

Hagan enjoyed her ravioli and tiramisu and said Puccini’s environment helped the conversation flow.

Lauryn Hagan, left, and Elijah Vann talk after finishing their dinner at Puccini’s Pizza Pasta on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Carter Skaggs | Staff 

“I liked it in there,” Hagan said. “It wasn’t too fancy, which was nice and didn’t make it high-stress.”

Hagan and Vann didn’t talk about seeing each other again at dinner, but Hagan said she’d be open to it.“I feel like if it were to happen I would enjoy (a second date), but I don’t know if compatibility romantically was there as much as getting a new friend,” she said. 

Next Tuesday, Hagan will get another chance to assess as she and Vann have already made plans for dinner and a movie via Snapchat.

Time will tell if this budding friendship will develop into anything more. Either way, Hagan is glad she went on the blind date.

“It was fun not knowing anything and then leaving knowing so much more about a person that I probably would’ve never met otherwise,” Hagan said.

Elijah Vann: After staying at Puccini’s almost until the restaurant closed, Vann returned from his date.

“I think it went well. I think it went great,” he said.

While confident about the date itself, he was unsure about the possibility of a future date.

Hagan seemed to check all the boxes for Vann: looks, common interests and future plans. He told her that he wanted to be a lighting designer, and she wanted to be a pediatrician. While different, this didn’t disrupt their conversation.

Despite a seemingly successful date, they did not exchange contact information initially, he said.

“I’m a wimp,” Vann said. 

Going in with high hopes about the food, Vann was not let down by his chicken alfredo pasta and caesar salad, and he enjoyed his surroundings as well. He said that other Puccini’s customers even interacted with them while they were on their date.

Elijah Vann, left, and Lauryn Hagan pose for a photo after their blind date on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, at Puccini’s Pizza Pasta in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Carter Skaggs | Staff

Following the experience, Vann said he would be open to going on another blind date in the future.

Two days later, Vann said things were going “very well” with Hagan in light of the pair’s plan to have dinner and catch a movie together next week.

Although it remains to be seen how these relationships progress, the blind dates gave four students the chance to sit down and meet someone that they probably would not have otherwise. And for those looking for a perfect spot for a first date of their own, Puccini’s is a great option!

The Kernel would like to thank Puccini’s for allowing us to hold the dates in their Chevy Chase location, as well as these four adventurous individuals who took the plunge and tried something new.