Peer mentors to life partners

Nature of Life brought Emily Ellingson and Nate Fremling together.
June 12, 2023

CBS alums Emily Ellingson and Nate Fremling met before the summer of 2012 when Emily served as a peer mentor at Nature of Life and Nate as a senior peer mentor. But that summer cemented a friendship that would ultimately turn into love.

“Itasca was the first place we truly got to know one another as friends,” says Ellingson, who was impressed with Nate’s leadership skills, work ethic and genuineness. “It was easy to become friends and want to be around Nate for all the joy he brought to other people while quietly working his heart out to make things go smoothly.”

For Nate, who came from a small town in northern Minnesota, Nature of Life delivered the sense of connection and community he craved. “I truly don’t think I can put into words how important the community-building component of the program was for me,” he says. Nate was motivated to help create that experience for other students. Emily shared his enthusiasm for Nature of Life and the way it brought students together with intention.

“Nature of Life is such a unique experience. The opportunity to have a glimpse at college, to become part of the CBS community and start acquiring the skills to be successful in the program is incredible. It was reassuring not only seeing those tie-dyed tees from across Northrop Mall, but to even recognize people in my classes and dorm. Getting the opportunity to help create that community and start fostering those connections and skills for the students was even more rewarding.”

The couple returned to Itasca for an alumni event in 2019. Nate saw an opportunity to bring things full circle. “The day of the proposal there was a break in the scheduled activities and I suggested that we go to the headwaters for sunset. When we got there, I waited until she wasn’t looking and picked up a rock. While walking across the footpath across the headwaters I dropped the rock into the water and told Emily I dropped my phone and had to reach down to try to grab it. When she turned around, I took the ring out and asked her to marry me.”