Feb. 17, 2016
Funny how life happens, isn’t it? You really just never know where someone might end up. I was going through some old photos the other day from my daughter’s high school years and came across some hilarious ones of a young Tyler Oakley before he became mega-YouTube star, Tyler Oakley.
Tyler was a senior when my kid was a freshman and he was nice enough to take her under his wing in the drama club. At one of her first high school activities, a drama lock-in, he ran around the school with her and some others snapping photos in random places, like mop closets and laundry bins. She has never forgotten his inclusiveness and kind spirit during that time.
I also found photos from plays and musicals — he might pay me to destroy the ones from “Canterbury Tales” since he even mentioned his horrible costume in his best-selling book, “Binge.” I also have a few from when my daughter won a bidding war (for charity) for the opportunity to have him follow her around for the day and carry her books, take her to breakfast and even perform a Back Street Boys song for her in the lunchroom. (I’m guessing it would cost a lot more than $40 to get that now.)
After high school, Tyler became a Spartan. And like all good Spartans he chased his dreams with boldness and tenacity. With a true entrepreneurial spirit, he turned his genuine musings about college and life into a YouTube phenomenon where he now has almost 8 million subscribers. He’s written a book, interviewed countless celebrities, traveled the world on tour, won awards and raised more than $1 million for the Trevor Project, an organization for the prevention of suicide among LGBT youth.
While he once appeared at my house in a knight costume, tonight I’ll be sitting in the audience when he comes back to MSU to be part of the Innovate State Speaker Series. He’s just one example of the innovative attitude of Spartans. Here at MSU, students are encouraged to think outside the box, take risks, challenge themselves, create and make an impact.
Giving students the tools and experience they need to develop an entrepreneurial mindset is key to their success. At MSU, a culture of innovation helps them succeed before and after graduation, regardless of what career they choose. Check out the cool MSUToday Feature: Driving a Culture of Innovation, to learn more about MSU’s expanding entrepreneurship opportunities — from business incubators and endowed funding sources to new academic programs and partnerships.
Neil Kane is MSU’s first director of undergraduate entrepreneurship. An experienced entrepreneur, business executive and Forbes contributor, he’s working to create a unified entrepreneurship strategy and introduce new programs, courses and initiatives focused on entrepreneurship and innovation. Read his FACULTY VOICE: The Entrepreneurial Mindset, to learn about his work and philosophy.
Oswald Chisala is one student who has benefitted from the entrepreneurship opportunities and programs at MSU. Two years ago he took a leap of faith and traveled from Zambia to East Lansing to become a student at MSU. Now a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering and minoring in computer science and entrepreneurship, he is the lead founder of an expected hardware tech startup called Roze. Though he came from across the world and hasn’t been here very long, he embodies what it means to be a Spartan. He says, “As Spartans, leadership is embedded in our DNA, so you need to take a chance…” Read his STUDENT VIEW: Why I Started A Tech Startup, to learn more about this impressive young man.
I absolutely love that here at MSU, we welcome with open arms people from all over the world and once they get here, they immediately feel the power of being a Spartan. The opportunities for students are so bountiful and the support so solid that success is practically a given. You can take a kid from down the street and turn him into a social media empire. Or, you can take a kid from a small town in Zambia and he’s creating a startup business before he graduates. And these things happen over and over all across campus. Who will turn opportunity into triumph and achievement? Spartans Will.
Photo of The Hatch incubator by G.L. Kohuth