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She said 'Yes'
Arctic College classmates get engaged at graduation

Casey Lessard
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, June 6, 2012

When Rankin Inlet's Derek Williams met Nunavut Arctic College classmate Emily Karpik, of Pangnirtung, last year, it took a while to become more than friends.

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Last year's Environmental Technology Program student of the year, Derek Williams, met this year's student of the year, Emily Karpik, in class last year. He proposed at a family dinner the night of the convocation May 17. - photo courtesy of Jason Carpenter

"There were quite a few of us hanging out, and I somehow gathered up the courage to ask her out," Williams said.

Perhaps that's why Karpik was "shocked" when Williams whom she has dated long-distance since he graduated as last year's Environmental Technology Program student of the year got down on one knee, hours after she received the same honour at this year's convocation; Williams proposed at a family dinner after the ceremony.

"We were just eating dinner, people were giving me gifts during the dinner, and Derek's father had talked in front of everyone," she recalled. "At the end of his speech, he said 'my son has something to say.'"

Not seeing a gift, she thought what he was about to present must have been pretty big she was right.

"I go into the centre and that's when he proposed," she said. "I was so shocked, I don't clearly remember what happened until people tell me what I was doing. I mentally blacked out."

"She couldn't say anything for the longest time," Williams recalled. "Well, for me it felt like the longest time."

Eventually, Karpik did respond; she said "Yes."

"After that 30 seconds of waiting, it was the biggest relief ever," Williams said.

"It was really sweet," said their teacher, Iqaluit ETP senior instructor Jason Carpenter. "They are both students I grew attached to, really good, hard-working, reliable students. To see people with bright futures ahead of them get connected, I don't think you can help but feel great about it."

The couple has no definitive future plans yet.

Looking back, Williams credits travel perks from his job at First Air for keeping their relationship together.

"(The distance) was pretty tough," he said, noting they kept in touch by phone and Facebook. "Ever since I got this job, I've been lucky enough to go over there or bring her here quite easily. As time went on and we were apart, our feelings for each other just kept growing stronger and stronger. We knew we were meant to be."

Karpik agrees.

"We've come a long way," she said. "The future looks really great right now."

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