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Homecoming ambassadors: Spartans Are... 

Oct. 18, 2017

Ten exceptional senior students were named to the 2017-18 Homecoming Court. The students, who were endorsed by an individual or an organization, were chosen through a very selective process.

Referred to as “ambassadors,” the students were evaluated based on leadership, community involvement, academic excellence and Spartan pride. A group of MSU faculty, staff, alumni and students conducted interviews to select the final 10 court ambassadors.

Three of the ambassadors answer the question of what they think it means to be a Spartan.

Mariah Hill - Spartans are GENUINE: Lessons learned from great Spartans

Mariah is a senior majoring in special education and language arts. 

Mariah HillGenuine means to be yourself no matter the situation. We have to get to a point in our lives where we no longer wear a poker face. You tell people the truth even when they do not want to hear it. No matter your race or gender you make it your business to make people feel comfortable around you. If you can help someone you will. If you honestly cannot, you will inform people and or refer them to someone who can. You will serve the people around you.

When I think of being genuine, three Spartans come to mind.

My first genuine encounter was when I was walking through the courtyard with so many bags proceeding to Case Hall for the Academic Orientation Program. A young lady saw me struggling, and came and grabbed one of my bags and helped me all the way to my room. That day we didn’t see our cultural differences. That day we saw an opportunity to make a cultural exchange. To date, I still talk to this young lady. Thank you, Damira.

The second person is the guy who loves me unconditionally. He encourages my academic success, uplifts my identities, and ensures that if my roommate and I run out of food he and his wife will take care of it. Days when leadership grew hard I could sit on their couch. Days I wanted to cry, I didn’t, because he gave me strength. Thank you, Nick.

One man that I met living in Hubbard Hall changed my brand and stake in leadership and community forever. He’s the person that builds you up and doesn’t even take credit for it. He makes sure to give you honesty and positive energy all the time. He is the person I would dream to be. He taught me how to be a servant leader and continue to invest and love community. He taught me how to successfully plan events and be concise. Thank you, Josh.

Actually, five … Scott and Colleen Westerman. They are a power couple on this campus that embody Spartan traits. They are one of the rare couples that you can see move as one unit. They vowed to a union that is unbreakable.

I can go to either of them and receive the same treatment with love, genuineness and a smile. They are like my MSU parents. I call Scott my God Dad. They have both made that imprint on my heart. I have learned that you always have to bring your best self to the table and you have to pick yourself up whenever you feel yourself falling. I have also learned that it is important that you stay engaged with those that invest in you once or a season as a mentor. I have learned the value of going back and thanking people through cards or recognition at ceremonies. Thank you, Colleen and Scott.

I will always remember these people because of how genuine they are. Spartans WILL.

Makaila Marshall - Spartans are BOLD: Brave. Optimistic. Leaders. Determined.

Makaila is a senior majoring in Communication and minoring in cognitive science. 

Makaila MarshallWhen it comes to being bold at MSU, I think it’s important to remember the start of our college careers. Every Spartan remembers the moment they arrived on campus. Whether it was at the beginning of their freshman year, or at the start of a transfer year, we all shared a few feelings. The nervousness we held in tightly from the unknown in front of us. Smiles we wore from the excitement flowing through our bodies. The tears we might have cried from leaving our loved ones. Or the hope deep in our hearts for the years ahead spent becoming the people we dreamed about being.

Brave, optimistic, leader, and determined; these words describe what I believe a “bold” person is. To be brave is to exhibit courage or have courageous endurance. To be optimistic is to be hopeful and confident about the future. To be a leader is to encompass the capabilities to motivate and guide individuals. To be determined is to make choices and stick to them.

I am proud to say that when I started my academic career here, I was far from being considered bold, and yes I said that right. I am proud because even though I didn’t start bold, I am able to look back and assess the growth I have made in the span of four and a half years.

I am proud that I took opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone. I found that in these moments of “bold” action, I made strides towards the woman I am destined to become and grew into a woman of bold mentality.

My participation in the Miss Black and Gold Scholarship pageant sponsored by the Men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., the Zeta Delta Chapter, was one of the first bold moves I made as a Spartan. Being the “shy girl” made my choice in competing somewhat of a mystery but I decided that it was time to share my story and finally have a bigger voice. Getting up in front of hundreds of my peers required bravery, which I didn’t know I could display. With that choice came a victory, and not just the crown, but one I would have never experienced without the willingness to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Throughout my Spartan career, I have gained confidence within my ability to be even more bold. I have been faced with challenges that only my faith in God and my optimism brought me through. I have been in countless leadership positions where I was able to share my knowledge and guide those following behind me. In all situations, whether positive or negative, I maintained a determined attitude to complete, succeed, gain, and improve.

However, being bold doesn’t stop once I walk across the stage, it multiplies. Michigan State helped to equip me with knowledge, resources, and the connections I need to make my dreams come true. One of the phrases I live by is “find a way and not an excuse.” This motivates me to believe in my abilities and to never give up … to never stop being BOLD.

Colin White - Spartans are WORLD-CHANGING: Combating climate change

Colin is a senior majoring in applied engineering sciences and minoring in supply chain management.

Colin WhiteThe toughest thing about coming to age in this current era is the attention that the media puts on to all the terrible things happening in our cities, our country, and across the globe. It is hard to wake up every day and to see the headlines about nuclear threats, refugees having to leave their war-torn countries and political gridlock. As terrible as these issues are, in my mind, one stands above the rest.

The most pressing issue that I see our global community facing is the ever-worsening effects of climate change. If I could change one thing about the world it would be to make society sustainable on a global scale.

The definition of a sustainable society is relatively straightforward. It is the idea that as a society we are able to continue to grow and consume natural resources, without affecting the availability of these resources for future generations.

A keystone of this is obviously preserving our natural resources, as they are limited, and stops any activities that will negatively affect any life human or other. I have been lucky enough in my education at MSU to come across countless Spartans that are working towards this same goal.

In one of my MSU courses I got to hear from a different speaker about their research or projects each week; these projects covered everything from water preservation in the Great Lakes to a 13-dimensional program for distributing land in New Zealand. One of the major things I took away from this class was that it doesn’t matter who you are, or what your major or profession is, you can make major changes in the world. To take it further, the class taught me that anyone and every organization can, and must, make meaningful progress towards a more sustainable society.

In my future endeavors, whatever they may be, “greening” of the company I work for will be a top priority for me. I also think that it is easy for a company to set up a “green” program and to implement recycling centers and automatic lights in their building and then move on.

In order to make significant change, it will require a complete revolution of the way we, as a society, think about just about everything. Whether I work for a nonprofit focused on helping these changes come to fruition or for a corporation whose primary goal is not necessarily to make these changes, I will make it my personal goal to work towards advancing society’s ability to grow sustainably.

To develop a more sustainable society, progress must come from the bottom up; it is a movement that would have to start at the grassroots. If there is any group that can help this movement gain significant momentum, it is the Spartan nation. As I mentioned, there are already countless Spartans working to make a difference.

It is inspiring to see everything that the MSU community has already done to start working towards a more sustainable society. Everything from the new solar panels in the MSU parking lots to becoming coal free. So to amend my initial statement, if I could change one thing about the world, it would be to grant everyone the Spartan’s Will to push themselves and society as a whole, to become completely sustainable.

Learn more about the 2017 Homecoming ambassadors

Learn more about this year's homecoming celebration