Never gonna give you up

Two former college roommates reflect on their long-lasting friendship.

Collage of photos of Renee Hultgren and Carolyn Maille-Petersen
Renee Hultgren and Carolyn Maille-Petersen have remained friends for more than 30 years. “It all just felt like it was meant to be,” Hultgren said. Courtesy photos.

By Jesse Berlin

Residential Life is a rich environment in which Mizzou students can form lasting friendships. Such was the case for MU alumnae and college roommates Renee Hultgren and Carolyn Maille-Petersen, who have remained close friends for 34 years.

“We just always make it a priority to try and see each other at least once a year,” Hultgren said. “Whenever we do meet, we just pick up right where we left off and still have our long talks and our laughs.”

The two first met at orientation in the summer of 1987. They were seated next to each other, and Hultgren simply started talking to Maille-Petersen.

“She seemed really fun and like a nice girl,” Hultgren said. “I was never shy, so right then and there, I asked her if she wanted be my roommate.”

Maille-Petersen was initially hesitant but decided to take a chance. “I just remember thinking, ‘Well, why wouldn’t I say yes? We get along,’” she said.

Hultgren and Maille-Petersen moved into Gillett Hall and immediately began to bond.

“We would stay up late every night, just talking,” Maille-Petersen said. “We really got to know each other really fast, really deeply that first week.”

Want to keep your roommate? Return with them next year! Housing contracts for fall ’22 open Oct. 1

The two complemented each other. “She was very sporty. I was very artsy,” Maille-Petersen said. “I would go to sporting events with her, and she would go to art events with me.”

“With Carolyn, I got to learn all these new things that she liked,” Hultgren said. “If I hadn’t had her as a roommate, I would’ve never experienced those.”

Hultgren and Maille-Petersen remained roommates throughout their time at Mizzou. They lived in a residence hall again their second year, after which they moved off campus together.

After graduating, the two stayed in touch by phone and occasional visits. Maille-Petersen once travelled to Iowa to meet Hultgren, where the two visited the ballpark used as a location for the 1989 film “Field of Dreams.” They were also maids of honor at each other’s weddings.

“It’s just been a very deep friendship that I don’t think either one of us wanted to lose,” Hultgren said. “I think we were more like family than roommates or friends.”

Maille-Petersen said students shouldn’t be afraid to take the leap when it comes to new roommates.

“Take chances and give your roommate a chance,” she said. “I feel really lucky, and I’m really glad that I said ‘yes.’”

“Me too,” Hultgren said.

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