‘Meet-Cute’ competition winners announced


Sean Reed

‘Meet-cute’ contest winners Cecilia Lucente and Nicholas Duka stand beside their prizes received on Monday at the Northern Star office. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

By Bridgette Fox, Written Managing Editor

DeKALB – The winners of the Northern Star’s 2023 Valentine’s best meet-cute story as voted by editors and readers, are Nicholas Duka and Cecilia Lucente, two second-year graduate students studying clinical mental health counseling.



“It’s validating because we both think that our story is very cute,” Lucente said.

“I agree, I think it’s like a really good story,” Duka said. “It almost seems like it’s written as part of a movie or like a TV show or something. Like, just in casual conversations we’ll be like ‘Our story’s, like, super cute.’”



“We don’t really have plans right now,” Lucente said. “Probably like dinner over the weekend because we both are really busy during the week.”


Nicholas Duka and Cecilia Lucente met in January 2021 at the NIU Masters of Counseling Pre-Admission Workshop (PAW) online. Somehow we both were stuck in an unsupervised break-out room for about 10 minutes waiting for an instructor to come back. We engaged in some small talk and both seemed interested in one another. Once the list of applicants accepted into the program was sent out, we both checked to see if the other was admitted into the program. We each ended up looking at each other’s social media (but no communication or actual contact) over the summer and anticipated meeting each other once school started in the fall. We had three classes and advising together during the fall semester of 2021 but never really spoke to one another. 

About halfway through the semester, we became friends with each other on Facebook. On Christmas Day 2021, I (Cecilia) messaged Nicholas on Facebook to tell him Merry Christmas. After talking for a few days, Nicholas asked me on a date to go ax-throwing on Jan. 4, 2022. We connected very well and started seeing each other more regularly outside of class. Our teachers must have caught on quickly because we ended up being paired together for several class assignments/activities. We officially became boyfriend and girlfriend in March and have been together ever since! Shout out NIU Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program for bringing us together.