Old traditions, new beginnings
May 3, 2013
Commencement. Caps, gowns, speeches, diplomas—the end of a student’s college career. But it’s not an end. The very word “commencement” means a new beginning. Thousands of Spartans will walk across the stage in East Lansing this weekend, grab their diplomas, throw their caps in the air and start a new chapter of their lives.
It’s a fitting time, then, to begin a new chapter of MSUToday—this new section, MSUToday 360 Perspective. MSUToday has always brought you the latest news about exciting things happening on campus and wherever Spartans are working to make a difference.
MSUToday 360 Perspective will add a new dimension to MSUToday by giving readers another way to connect to the amazing things that happen at a world-class research university.
Researchers and scholars, as well as the students who work with them, will share, in their own voices, thoughts about the important work they do—like Joseph Messina who’s leading the way to controlling the dangerous tsetse fly using geographical studies.
We’ll highlight various aspects of the student experience at Michigan State, sometimes from the student point of view, sometimes showcasing student work, and sometimes just providing a window into what student life is like. Right now, it’s the perfect time to share the incredibly inspiring speech by one of last semester’s student commencement speakers, Rose Cooper. You’ll also find some glimpses of everyday scenes found around campus and the other places Spartans are working.
New beginnings. They always create excitement, and rightly so. But as long as I’ve been here, some things never change. As I write this I’m sitting near Beaumont Tower watching group after group of green-gowned, mortarboard-wearing students wait to have their picture taken at one of the most familiar sites on campus. (It’s an incredibly gorgeous day so I’m certain the line is just as long in front of The Spartan statue). Those traditions are as old as the tower itself.
Other Spartan traditions remain the same as the years go by—studying by the Red Cedar, getting ice cream at the Dairy Store, singing the fight song, making lifelong friends and always remembering to answer “Go White” when hearing “Go Green.”
But there’s more to Spartan tradition than just those things. It’s about working hard, being genuine, having principles, inspiring awe and using bold ideas in practical ways to make a difference in this world. It’s about having the will to make things happen.
I remember my MSU commencement. I was a nontraditional student who was older, married, and working full-time while taking classes every semester for eight years until I had my diploma in hand.
It certainly wasn’t easy. I often had class at 8 a.m. before heading to work, used my lunch hour to squeeze in another class, and then took another from 7 to 10 p.m. My weekends off consisted of hours of studying in the library. It would have been easy to quit. But I wanted that degree from MSU more than just about anything. There were many who thought I’d never finish.
As Rose points out, when you’re a Spartan, you get back up when you fall down. So I kept getting back up. I mustered up my Spartan will and proudly walked across that stage years ago, diploma in hand, (well, at least the fake piece of paper that serves as a diploma until the real one is mailed to you). I’m still incredibly proud that I had the will to finish and being a Spartan will always be an important part of who I am.
Now I sit here at my job, beneath the beautiful shadows of Beaumont, where as the editor of MSUToday, part of my work is to share stories and new perspectives about the incredible things Spartans do. Seems like a pretty awesome new beginning to me.