Photo submitted by Judd and Coats
They have traveled the world together, but still Kali Judd and Keegan Coats’ first adventure started in the fall of 2008 resting in the grass outside Hubbell Dining Hall.
Judd, an American citizen, met Coats, an international student from South Africa, through mutual friends while studying at Drake University.
The couple was brought together at Drake, and now their wedding is set for September of this year. Since their meeting in the fall of 2008, the couple has traveled the world, yet holds the Drake community close to their hearts.
“I hung out with a lot of foreign exchange students, and one day they were playing soccer and we just kind of met,” Judd said. “And then we went to the Obama rally together, and we just kind of hit it off there.”
Judd and Coats spent that fall semester at Drake building their relationship, but Coats’ student visa was soon to expire. He would have to leave the United States. Judd had already experienced a long-distance relationship, and that was not an option for her.
“So I basically said well we either need to go somewhere together or just kind of break it off,” Judd said. “And we just decided to go for it.”
The couple moved to Australia in January of 2009 for 11 months where they both went to school and worked. After saving up enough money to leave Australia, Judd and Coats were able to take a trip backpacking through Asia for three months. After exploring Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Japan they moved to Coats’ home country, South Africa, for seven months.
However, the traveling couple was forced apart in August of 2010, because Coats still did not have a visa for the U.S. Judd returned home alone to start the process of getting Coats his visa.
“We knew the process. We knew it would take a while,” Judd said. “You kind of get used to (being apart) after a while, you get in a pattern.”
Everyday apart for the couple consisted of Skyping, phone calls or using the international texting application called “What’s Up.” Finally, Coats was able to return in July of 2011, and the couple could be together in Des Moines.
Coats is finished with school and has a job at Skyline, an exhibition company, and Judd returned to Drake to finish her schooling. She is now a sophomore international relations major.
“I always liked Drake,” Judd said. “And I always liked the small community about it, and I didn’t want to go to a big school. So I figured why not go back to Drake.”
Not only could Drake bring a quality education for Coats and Judd, but it also brought them together as a couple. With a couple hundred international students enrolled at Drake, Coats and Judd represent the great connections that can be made.
“I think that Drake does a really good job with how many international people they bring in from different places,” Judd said. “It was nice that Drake helped make those connections around the world for me.”