ADPR Alumni Find Love in the Big City
When advertising majors Hayley Howell (’16) and Patrick Wells (’14) were both attending classes at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, their paths never really crossed until he was working at Tombras and she was interning there. Though they had some mutual friends and interests, the two moved away from Knoxville with their relationship standing somewhere between acquaintances and friends. Neither had a clue that they were destined to one day fall in love, and that it would be in no small part due to their ties to the College of Communication and Information.
It wasn’t until Howell moved to New York City and another UT friend visited and suggested that they call up Wells, who was living in Brooklyn, to come hang out that the two began a more robust friendship. Wells, a lover of ball caps, had left his hat in Howell’s purse at an establishment that didn’t allow hats. So of course she had to find a way to return it; from there, they just kept hanging out.
“He was my Brooklyn UT friend. He was a safe place in a city where I didn’t know anybody,” Howell said.
The COVID-19 pandemic became another point of connection for the two, as they became a part of each other’s social pod and would watch football games together on the roof of Howell’s building. Eventually, one outing turned into a quasi-date, and then a hangout ended with a kiss, and the two decided to see what it would be like to venture into dating each other. It turns out it was pretty good and they became “official” almost exactly two years ago, on Feb. 18, 2021.
We’re in a really good place, we’re generally pretty happy people and we both bond over Tennessee constantly.”Hayley Howell (’16)
With a few more twists of circumstance, they also both ended up moving into new jobs at the same advertising agency: she’s an account director and he’s a copywriter.
“Everyone at the agency knows we’re dating. But it is funny because there’s ‘work us,’ and there’s ‘hanging out us’,” Howell said, prompting Wells to jump in and jokingly say, “I just tell everybody she’s my boss.”
While this relationship is possibly one of the most significant connections either of the CCI alumni have made via their alma mater, they both said one of the most stand-out aspects of their time at the college was all of the connections they made. Whether it was the networking Wells was able to do on the New York City trip he took with the Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations, or the long-term friendships that Howell still maintains from her time at Ad Club, both agree that their lives have been forever impacted by who they met through UT.
“It just felt like a little family, not to be cheesy, but it did feel really connected. It was a community,” Howell said.
As for their careers in the big city, Howell and Wells said CCI prepared them well to dive into the daunting world of New York advertising agencies.
“I think a lot of the classes really flexed your thinking. Advertising, when you get into it, it’s very niche with different skillsets and UT gave you a little taste of everything to help you figure out what you want to focus on,” Wells said.
While Howell said she was initially an art major who switched to advertising for the creative aspects, the classes she took exposed her to other aspects of the field and she realized she loved connecting with clients. For his part, Wells ended up choosing advertising when his advisor told him he needed to settle on a major, and while he didn’t know much about it before he started taking courses in the major, he’s never looked back since.
The couple are also pleased to continue contact with CCI at events such as the recent alumni reception in New York City, or just by staying in touch with other alumni and faculty. For example, Howell said Associate Professor Courtney Childers is always reaching out to check on her, and it just feels like an extension of that community and family feeling she had at CCI.
Of course, there’s no connection that can really match the obvious and genuine affection Howell and Wells have for each other.
“We’re in a really good place, we’re generally pretty happy people and we both bond over Tennessee constantly,” Howell said.