While other members from the Class of 2011 are apartment hunting, finalizing their employment plans or looking into graduate studies programs, Charlie Clark ’11 and Sarah White ’11 have a different plan after graduation than many of their classmates. On June 14 two days after Commencement Clark and White plan to marry at Rollins Chapel, the couple said in an interview with The Dartmouth.
Clark and White look like every other student around campus casually dressed, focused and looking anxious for finals to be over. And yet, their story is undeniably unique. Clark and White, who have been together for four years, met at the English department’s open house during freshman orientation and have been dating ever since.
Like most members of the Class of 2011, Clark and White said they are excited to be living away from dorms. They are looking forward to a life together after college where they can have “a place to retreat to” that feels less “public,” Clark said.
The couple is also, Sarah added, looking forward to life without Dartmouth Dining Services.
“Charlie’s cooking… now that’s a step up,” she laughed.
Like most relationships, Clark admitted that his and White’s time together has not been without its challenges
“We’re not at our sunniest and charming-est every day,” Clark claimed. “So you step on each other’s toes and you hurt each other’s feelings. What’s necessary is that, at the end of the day, you value the other person more than you value your own bruised feelings and you’re constantly forgiving each other and repairing the relationship that way.”
Maintaining their relationship at Dartmouth specifically was difficult, according to Clark and White especially when Clark enrolled in a Foreign Study Program one spring while White remained on campus though the obstacles proved surmountable. White joked that the biggest predicament was “running up some pretty big Skype bills.”
In terms of social engagement options at the College, both Clark and White expressed limited personal interest in the Greek system and even less in Dartmouth’s “hook-up culture.”
“I don’t think it’s generally very healthy,” Clark said of the hook-up scene. “I certainly don’t think it’s a foundation for building a meaningful relationship in general. Obviously though, it works for some people.”
Clark said that balancing a relationship with a social life at Dartmouth is no easy task in the face of popular social pressures.
“It’s a constant sort of choice, a constant discipline,” Clark said of their relationship. “It’s all about elevating it when you have to. There’s an element of self-sacrifice involved. It’s really what’s best for both of you if it’s right.”
Despite their age, which Clark and White both admit is unusually young, they said they know that they are making the right choice.
“If you find someone you really get along with, you really love and [with whom] you can make things work, I don’t really see age being a factor,” White said.
Clark said that, while some may be surprised at their marrying at such a “young age,” it is not an uncommon phenomenon where he grew up.
“I’m from the South,” Clark said with a smile as he discussed the prospect of getting married earlier than most of his classmates. “It’s kind of a thing down there.”