From Newman to Mount Fuji: An alumni couple’s story

Sep 28, 2023
Newman alumnus Daniel Knolla proposes to alumna Marie Moore on top of Mount Fuji in Japan.
Newman alumnus Daniel Knolla proposes to alumna Marie Moore on top of Mount Fuji in Japan.

From first meeting in Mabee Dining Center to getting engaged on top of Japan’s Mount Fuji, Newman alumni Daniel Knolla and Marie Moore have experienced quite the journey.

To start off, both were involved in various activities during their time at Newman, which allowed their paths to cross in multiple ways. Both were teammates in the Sloppy Joe Improv Troupe and part of clubs on campus. Moore was in the Medical Professions Club (NUMPC), while Knolla was the STEM Club president, a Student Government Association senator, and a biology lab coordinator.

“Because we were both science majors and had similar ambitions after college, it was so nice to have Dan’s constant, supportive presence in many of the difficult science classes. We definitely pushed each other to be our best selves,” Moore said.

Knolla was almost left speechless after meeting Moore. Almost.

“After meeting Marie for the first time, I was walking with my good friend Brenden back to his dorm room. She made quite the impression, and I couldn’t quite figure out the right word to describe her. I turned to Brenden and said, ‘Well, she was free-spirited,’ which is the best I could come up with at the time,” Knolla said. “It turns out she was walking about five feet behind us, and I didn’t even notice until after I said that which still makes me laugh.”

Knolla and Moore went on to get to know each other through the Honors Program before they started officially dating.

In spring 2022, Knolla and Moore won homecoming king and queen. Both said they were surprised to hear their names called. It was as if their Newman experience was coming to a close with a fairytale ending. 

Daniel Knolla and Marie Moore as Newman's homecoming king and queen in 2022.
Daniel Knolla and Marie Moore as Newman’s homecoming king and queen in 2022.

Or perhaps, it was just the end of the first chapter. 

The summer after they graduated, Knolla would have a much bigger surprise – he planned to propose to Moore during their summer vacation to Japan, on the top of Mount Fuji.

“I was born and spent a bit of my childhood in Japan, so it will always hold a place in my heart,” Knolla said, “I was happy to be able to share some of (the) excitement with Marie when we traveled there and figured that the top of one of the most famous mountains in the world would be a suitable place to propose.”

Three Newman Alumni (Maddie Dellinger '21, Marie Moore '22, Daniel Knolla '22) flew to Japan. While there, they met with '21 alum, Koki Takemoto.
Three Newman alumni (Maddie Dellinger ’21, Marie Moore ’22, Daniel Knolla ’22) flew to Japan. While there, they met with ’21 alum, Koki Takemoto.

Moore had a different perspective about the 11–hour climb.

“From my perspective, we were just climbing to the top of Mount Fuji because Dan was determined to check it off his bucket list. I found out later that it was his plan to propose at the top all along,” she said.

“I was super nervous bringing it (the ring) across the Pacific and then all the way up the mountain (with) my tiny little ring box, but after checking that it was still there maybe one thousand times, it made it to the peak with us,” Knolla said. 

“A family was up there, and they asked if we could take pictures of them. I said ‘Of course, if you’re willing to take pictures of us afterwards’ Once I handed them my phone, I said, ‘Sorry to drag you into this, just keep taking pictures,’ and the rest is history.”

Knolla and Moore climbed through the night, with rain and wind almost blowing them over.

Daniel Knolla and Marie Moore smiling after their engagement on top of Mount Fuji.

Knolla added, “We both agreed that we probably wouldn’t have done it without the other. I thought that it was quite a good metaphor for our relationship.”

Both Knolla and Moore are in their second years of medical school — Knolla at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, and Moore at the KU School of Medicine-Wichita campus.

The Newman University community wishes graduates Knolla and Moore a lifetime of happiness together. 

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