What it’s like to date a Rhodes Scholar

Rhodes Scholar Amanda Frickle now wears the pants in the relationship; doting boyfriend Brent Zundel wears the aprons. Photo by Brent Zundel.

Last month, MSU student Joe Thiel, a senior in chemical engineering and liberal studies, and Billings native Amanda Frickle, a College of Idaho graduate and current MSU ResLife employee, were named Rhodes Scholars. One of the most prestigious scholarships awarded, the Rhodes offers both of them the chance to study at Oxford next year.

The Exponent caught up with Bizz Browning, Joe’s wife, and Brent Zundel, Amanda’s boyfriend, to see how they were dealing with their newfound fame.

Exponent: How has your life changed since your significant other became a Rhodes Scholar?

Bizz: Being married to a Rhodes Scholar like Joe is pretty neat. When he’s not going to board meetings or working with clubs, I get to watch him study — during meal times, before classes, after classes, at the movies. If I’m lucky, I get to study with him during date nights. Nothing beats a night at the library reading textbooks with my sweetheart.

Brent: It’s really been a whirlwind of change. Amanda proposed a master’s in genders studies at Oxford, so I’ve tried to be supportive of that decision and make our relationship as progressive as possible. Amanda spends her time autographing copies of her personal statement for old professors, while I browse baby name books, write my first name and her last name all over my school binders, and frequently ask for reassurance about whether my new jeans make my butt look big.

E: What do you think of all this publicity surrounding the Rhodes Scholars?

Bizz: It’s unbelievable — so great. People stop him all the time to congratulate him. And I get stopped too, because they know I’m with him. It’s like being married to a celebrity. We both hope it will never end.

Brent: It’s great! Amanda has been receiving a lot of Facebook messages and emails from people we’ve never met. The men seem especially heartfelt in their congratulations, even asking her to “friend” them or maybe meet up for coffee or a drink.

E: Really? I would think they’d be tired of it by now.

Bizz: Oh, no. He loves it, and I do too. I mean, I basically married Joe for his looks, and now I see his face everywhere I go. All over the internet, newspapers, television. The only place I haven’t seen him is on a billboard. Hey — maybe someone at the Exponent could help us get one put up?

Brent: You know, I think Amanda might be getting a little tired of it, but I could go on in the limelight for ages. Every time I show her another news article, she just glares at me and says, “Sweetie, I’m trying to read.”