June 8, 2016
Last week my husband invited me to lunch at the Peanut Barrel in downtown East Lansing. If you’ve ever sat outside at the PB on a lovely summer day, you know you don’t turn that down. (Fun fact: I had a creative writing final there when I was a student. We acted out plays we had written.) Little did I know just how fantastic lunch would be.
While we were perusing the menu, all of a sudden, my brilliant daughter appeared. What the what? She was supposed to be on set in New York City. Yet there she was, hugging me and wishing me a happy birthday. It’s tough to get a surprise over on me, but they pulled it off so I could celebrate with my proudest and most precious accomplishment. It was an incredible surprise.
Surprises. They come in all forms. Sometimes they’re really special – like my daughter appearing. Sometimes they’re not great – like the wind out of nowhere that threatened the wrap dress I was wearing yesterday. Sometimes they’re just plain strange – like the appearance of a semi-truck in my backyard when I got home. (My neighbor is building a basketball court.) Sometimes surprises turn into major discoveries – like penicillin, x-rays, pacemakers and chocolate chip cookies.
Here at MSU and all around the world, Spartans are making surprising discoveries every day. They’re figuring out ways to improve health, the environment, water, education, agriculture, industry, business, arts and more. Spartans aren’t satisfied with the status quo – they’re constantly looking for ways to change things for the better. Spartans seek out ways to surprise the world.
Coming to MSU as a freshman, Ryan Duda didn’t know what to expect. When a friend convinced him to audition for the Theatre Program, he says it blew his mind. In other words, he was surprised at finding his passion. Now he’s using his knowledge and skill to help kids with intellectual and physical disabilities explore theater. Watch the video and read his STUDENT VIEW: Using theatre to help kids with special needs, to learn about him and the cool program he’s involved with.
As a researcher, surprises come with the territory. Christie Bahlai is a research associate in the Department of Entomology and is always looking for surprising ecological breakthroughs. Recently, she wondered about a link between flowers that were photographed frequently with insects and those flowers attractiveness to pollinators. She and her colleague developed a unique approach to test their theory – using crowdsourced images. Read her FACULTY VOICE: Passive crowdsourcing, to learn more about her work.
What isn’t a surprise that Ryan and Christie are Spartans. Even as a busy college student, Ryan sought out a way to give back to the community. True Spartans care about the world they live in and look to improve the lives of all people. Christie is a determined researcher who is constantly looking for discoveries that will lead to an ecologically stable tomorrow. True Spartans are tenacious and curious and never stop looking for answers. With more than half a million Spartans in the world, it’s safe to say that they’ll keep surprising us every day.
Photo of the Peanut Barrel patio in downtown East Lansing by Kurt Stepntiz