Lyon alums have fairy-tale engagement on Nichols trip

When Maggie Hance told her boyfriend, Drew Nolley, about a proposal she witnessed at Disney World, she never imagined he’d propose to her at Stirling Castle in Scotland during a Nichols Trip with Lyon College students and faculty members.

“I was at Disney for a dance competition, and we saw a proposal happen while we were there. I told him I wanted to be proposed to at a castle, thinking maybe he’d do it at the castle at Disney. I never thought he’d do it at an actual castle,” Hance said.

Hance, a 2013 psychology major of Batesville, and Nolley, a 2014 English major of Benton, met at Lyon during Nolley’s freshman year. By November of that year, they were officially a couple.

“She told me repeatedly that her other boyfriends hadn’t lasted very long,” Nolley said laughing. Nolley took the comment in stride.

“He’s really relaxed,” Hance said. “He’d always just laugh when I’d say that. When we had been dating over a month, he said, ‘I won. I’m still here.’”

Dr. Jennifer Daniels, assistant professor of psychology, and Dr. Nikki Yonts, assistant professor of psychology/education, were the faculty members leading the trip. They agreed it was a natural fit to have Hance along on the trip as an alumni since she was unable to go on a Nichols trip as a student because of medical issues.

“She worked with both of us. She had become our colleague, and we knew Drew was going on the trip, so it was just a natural fit. It worked out just the way it was supposed to,” Daniels said.

Yonts said Nolley made her responsible for holding on to the engagement ring until the opportune moment presented itself.

“I carried that ring everywhere for two weeks,” Yonts said. “I didn’t let it leave my person. We were both so honored to be part of the process. To have that kind of relationship with our students that would make them want us to be a part of such a memorable event is truly amazing.”

The group visited Edinburgh, the Highlands, St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Stirling Castle during the trip. While visiting an art museum, Yonts unknowingly found another integral piece to add to Nolley’s proposal.

“I found this book called The Art of Letter Writing. I handed it to Jenn, because she’s a social psychologist, and I thought she’d find it interesting. One of the letter examples was of a proposal. She showed it to Drew because it was such a perfect fit,” Yonts said.
With only a few days remaining on the trip, Nolley decided the top of Stirling Castle would be the perfect setting to pop the question.

“I was confused at first because we had already been up there once taking photos. Then when we went back up there, he got out this book. I was freezing, and I asked him, ‘Are you about to read to me,’” Hance said laughing. “He said, ‘No, you’re going to read it.’ While I was reading, he started getting down on one knee. Then I was crying.”

Hance said she repeatedly stopped Nolley from asking her to marry him trying to regain her composure.

“I kept saying, ‘Wait, I’m not ready!’ But I couldn’t stop crying, so finally he went ahead and asked me,” she said.

Nolley said Daniels and Yonts almost missed the big moment because they were trying to keep the other students occupied in order to give he and Hance some privacy.

“I kept waiting and waiting for them to come back over, but finally I gave up and got down on my knee,” Nolley said. “That’s when I hear Dr. Daniels yell, ‘Oh my God, we’re missing it!’”

Luckily, Yonts did capture pictures of the proposal. The couple said they haven’t set a date as of yet. Hance is preparing to attend Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas for her master’s degree in the fall. She said she hopes to go on to earn her Ph.D. in psychology and eventually teach. Nolley is working with the Democratic Party of Arkansas helping with the campaign efforts for Mike Ross and Mark Pryor.

“There will never be another trip quite like that one,” Daniels said, although she and Yonts both hope the trip to Scotland becomes a Lyon tradition.

“We had such interest in this trip, we had to turn people away,” Daniels said. “It was truly a life-changing experience. The proposal was icing on the cake.”