This month, we’ll hear from Amina Switzer and Bryce Bonnet, who first met while they were both at TIP. Although it wasn’t love at first sight (the two were never more than friends while at TIP), that initial friendship blossomed into a love story that would lead to a marriage proposal.
How did you first hear of TIP?
A: My mom pretty much told me I was participating that summer, and that’s the first I had heard of it.
B: I remember my mom showing me a flyer I got in the mail around 7th grade. I think it was the first time I had received mail in my name, which was pretty cool.
When did you attend TIP, and what courses did you take?
A: I took Screenwriting at the University of Kansas (KU) in 2010 (that’s where Bryce and I first met), Creative Writing Workshop at Texas A&M in 2011, Philosophy of Knowledge at UGA in 2012, The Brain, Creativity and Intelligence at UGA in 2013, and then Field Studies Filmmaking at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) in 2014 (again with Bryce).
B: I took Screenwriting at KU in 2010, and I took Film at the University of North Carolina School of The Arts in 2014.
What was your experience like?
A: Duke TIP changed my life. I made lifelong friends who followed me from KU all the way to UNCSA and beyond. I returned to work at Duke TIP as a residential counselor for three summers in a row in 2016, 2017, and 2018 at Austin College and UGA.
I have always expressed that Duke TIP was my true home, and I owe my academic and social success to the program. I had experiences unique to Duke TIP, and I was taught academic and life lessons the way only the instructors and residential staff at TIP can.
B: I have very fond memories overall. I remember KU especially was a big deal because it was the first time I had been on my own for more than a few days. I had a good core group of friends I was with constantly. I remember being completely enthralled with my screenwriting class and getting some solid scripts out of it.
How did the two of you meet?
A: Bryce likes to tell the story of when we first met as if we were in competition, but I never felt that way. We would casually chat on walks to class, but it was nothing serious at TIP. After we left, I decided to text him, and we just never stopped talking.
We were from the same state, which was our first commonality, so we would meet up and hang out on weekends occasionally (when we could convince our parents to drive us). We clicked, started dating three years later, and here we are.
B: Funny enough Amina and I talked only a couple times when we were at KU. We never started out as a relationTIP or anything like that. In fact, the most profound memory I have of her is her script snubbing mine during our class award ceremony. She still ribs me about it to this day. We didn’t really become friends until after TIP, and we didn’t start dating until several years later.
How did the proposal pan out?
A: He really didn’t properly ask me, but that’s okay. He tells the story pretty well, but I have to say he planned it out really well. I was happy to have a photographer there, even if she just caught photos of me crying my eyeliner all down my face.
Our families did a great job keeping the whole thing a secret. The best part to me was the box with the ring in it had a light that came on when he opened it—it was beautiful.
B: She’ll tell you I never properly asked her in the moment, but it was the weekend after Valentine’s Day. We had been dating for almost six years. I took Amina to a restaurant at the top of the tallest building in Oklahoma.
We had a photographer there and everything. Nearly everyone she knew was in on it and helped me out in some way. Somehow her family and mine kept the plans a secret for about two months.
What are you up to these days?
A: I currently work as a news producer at KWTV News 9 in Oklahoma City; I started that job in late January after Bryce and I both graduated from the University of Oklahoma in December. As for Duke TIP’s role; I still have lasting friendships from as far back as my first year in the program, specifically Jack Pippen and Niki Harrison, who have literally been with me since day one.
I grew a lot as a professional working at Duke TIP and made some valuable connections in my coworkers and campers. I want to encourage my young relatives and possible future children to participate if they can; I want their lives to be as changed and touched as mine was.
B: I’m currently taking a gap year to study for the MCAT and work; I plan on starting medical school next year. I’m still trying to figure out a way to work film into that career.