Student view:

Liz Schondelmayer: Finding meaning in Homecoming

Liz Schondelmayer is a junior intern with the CABS Integration Team majoring in political science in the College of Social Science and media and information in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. She is also a College of Social Science Scholar. She'll be blogging throughout Homecoming week.

Oct. 16, 2017

Well, it’s Homecoming season again – a time for huge tailgates, get-togethers, non-stop talk about football, and dedicated fans yelling at television screens. If you love football, this is your time to shine. Your moment. But for the rest of us, homecoming week can seem a little overwhelming and maybe even a little obnoxious. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but can definitely leave some Spartans feeling a little left out or at least wondering how homecoming week can be special to them. I’m one of those Spartans.

To introduce myself, my name is Liz and I am the opposite of your typical Spartan football fan. I came to MSU for a specific academic program, so the fact that my chosen university was also in the Big Ten was just kind of a neat bonus for me. Let me get one thing straight, however: I’m not a snob, by any means. I don’t think I’m “too cool” for football, nor do I think anything slightly negative about it or the people who play it or enjoy it. It’s another hobby that people have, it’s a thing for people to enjoy, and I think that’s great! But, the thing is, it’s just not my thing.

Being a first-generation student makes Homecoming seem a little strange as well. During this week, I’m constantly surrounded by entire families - from great-grandparents to little kids clad head-to-toe in green and white – and I’m reminded that I’m the only member of my family, both immediate and extended, to attend MSU.

Uniquely Spartan logo

Even before coming here, my parents sat me down and had a long conversation about how my family was not going to become one of those “crazy Spartan families.” “We’ll support your academics,” I distinctly remember my dad saying, “but don’t expect us for a minute to come tailgate with you or be at every football game.” And while I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being an enthusiastic Spartan family, I do understand where they’re coming from, too. Sometimes it can all feel like a little much, you know?

So, here I am now, a junior at MSU with no interest in football and without any strong family ties to MSU, trying to answer a simple question: how can I, too, be a part of Homecoming?

To answer this question, I am challenging myself to be as involved as possible over the next coming week. I’ll be attending and experiencing one Homecoming event/tradition per day to try and discover how Homecoming can be for everyone. The Homecoming theme this year is “Uniquely Spartan,” so I want to find out what that means exactly and how this idea is celebrated throughout the week. I’ll be documenting my experiences as I go so that maybe other Spartans like me can connect and find ways to get involved, too.

I'll be starting my journey at the "Hayrides and History" tour tonight, and will be posting daily about my experiences and what to expect the next day throughout the rest of the week.

Oct. 17, 2017

Hello again! Liz here, back from a chilly tractor-pulled wagon ride on what turned out to be one of the most beautiful nights yet this month. If you’re wondering why I went on a tractor-pulled wagon ride tonight (or even if you’re not), I’ll tell you: tonight, I participated in the UAB’s “Hayrides and History” event, where Spartans were given a historical tour of campus while munching on cider and donuts (all entirely free).

tractor and hayride

If you can’t tell already, I enjoyed the event. It was a cool chance to, one, force my boyfriend into going on a basic fall date with me and, two, learn a little about MSU and campus along the way. For example, did you know that MSU was originally called Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, or that it is 162 years old? If you went on this tour tonight, you would.

The tour was organized by our very own University Activities Board. Founded in 1916, the UAB consists of more than 50 student volunteers who get together for the sake of planning cool stuff for their peers to do. They put on movies, craft nights, open mic nights, concerts and various other events like the one I attended tonight.

Their hard work and generosity ensure that the rest of us don’t get bored, and the events they plan are usually really cool. To say that there is something for everyone is an understatement – they take diversity and inclusion extremely seriously, and try to put together events for every Spartan to enjoy. (If you’re struggling on finding your niche at MSU, going to UAB events or even joining the Board to suggest new ideas may be a helpful place to start!)Wells courtyard at night

Not only did tonight revamp my appreciation for the UAB, it also helped me put my experience as a Spartan in perspective. Sometimes we lose ourselves in our busy schedules – running to class, running to work, running to see our friends, running through assignments and projects – and it’s hard to remember how fortunate we are to be a part of the MSU community and be immersed in the MSU experience. See, when you’re a Spartan, you’re a part of a long tradition of excellence and you’re a part of a global family of world-changers.

And look, I know, you hear this stuff from promos and see it on posters and billboards so much you can almost start to go numb to it after a while. But the thing is, MSU has truly been a game-changer since its founding due to the Spartans who have and continue to learn, teach and live here. If you’re here, you’re a part of something great. (Whether you like football or not.)

Who Will? sign

Tonight, I’ll be attending “Sounds of Homecoming” – a show put on by the UAB featuring MSU a Capella groups including Ladies First, RCAHpella and the Spartan Dischords. It starts at 7 p.m. under Beaumont Tower.

Oct. 18, 2017

Hi! It’s me again. Happy Wednesday everyone! It’s crazy how fast yet how slow the work week can go. You focus on a task for what seems like hours but only turns out to be minutes, but yet, if you blink one time too many, you’ve got only moments left to finish everything before the weekend. Still, despite however many things you have going on, it’s important to make time for the little things. This was reinforced for me last night when I attended “Sounds of Homecoming” for my daily Homecoming week adventure.

Sounds of Homecoming stage with performers at Beaumont Tower

“Sounds of Homecoming” is another brainchild of the wickedly talented and devoted UAB, in which some of campus’s most popular A Capella groups get together for one performance under Beaumont Tower. Featured were groups such as the Spartan Dischords, State of Fifths, and Capital Green – all of whom showed up and rocked the stage free of charge. It was a super fun event, and it drew impressive crowds. Even our Homecoming Grand Marshall, Tyler Oakley, decided to attend!

Tyler Oakley and Beaumont Tower concert

As I said earlier, tonight reminded me about the importance of the little things. I could have skipped the event tonight, sat inside and done homework, stayed inside and stared at a laptop screen (sort of as I am now). But, I didn’t. Instead, I got to be in a beautiful setting, meet some cool people, and listen to some extremely gifted Spartans share some of their passions and their talents with their campus.

 

I only spent a couple hours of my time there, but by the end, I had gotten back way more than I invested: I got some fresh inspiration to carry me over hump day and through the rest of the week, as well as the chance to experience something completely and unapologetically Uniquely Spartan.

That gets me to my next point about the importance of tonight’s event. I always thought of school spirit and MSU Pride as wearing green, shouting “Go Green,” and supporting the university’s athletics. But tonight made me think that maybe that’s not totally right. While that’s one way to show support for MSU, there are many others, all equally valid. For those performing tonight, that was their way of “bleeding green.”

Beaumont Tower grass with audience listening to concert

No one singer or group was forced to be there. In fact, they weren’t even paid to be there. They volunteered their time, enthusiasm, and excitement with the rest of the Spartan community for the sake of unification and inclusivity before the big game. That’s pretty cool, and it goes to show that, again, there is no one right way to show Spartan spirit. There’s no one right way to be a Spartan! It’s all about showing other Spartans what you care about and getting them involved for the sake of getting our global family even closer.

Sorry again if that got a little sappy, but it’s only so sentimental because it’s true. Tomorrow, I will be taking my own unofficial tour around the neighborhoods of East Lansing for the sake of finding the best Glow Green displays. Then, on Thursday, I’ll be stopping by the Comm Arts building for the sake of saying hello to Tyler Oakley.

October 19, 2017

When making plans for events to attend throughout the week, I initially planned to attend the Wood Slice craft night, hosted by the UAB. And while this event did look super fun, I realized yesterday that I actually had a meeting for a club I’m involved in that I really couldn’t miss. I was bummed at first, wondering what I would blog about tonight. As I was reviewing my older posts for this week, however, it kind of hit me- as I was saying yesterday, the best way to have school spirit was to get involved and share your passions and talents with the rest of MSU, and that’s exactly what I was doing.

The meeting I skipped Wood Slicing for was for VideoNow, a Telecasters show that produces music videos for local Michigan State and East Lansing artists. Each month, we put out a new music video, interview, live performance, and panel discussion podcast featuring a different artist, and we’re willing to produce content forma artists of all genres and backgrounds. It’s a new show, and we’re all working hard to get it off the ground.

composetheway image

I’m also involved in another show – the Beaumont Bulletin. Beaumont Bulletin is a late-night-style comedy show that features two newscasters, Bryan and Katie, who tackle controversies and current events as humorously as humanly possible.

Beaumont Bulletin is actually my predominant show, and is the one I spend the most of my time on as both a writer and a crew member. You can always find me at our weekly writer’s meetings, or on set every other Tuesday helping with set-up, lighting, and camera work.

Beaumont Bulletin Newscasters

To clarify, Telecasters is a student organization that makes several TV shows, varying in genre from sketchy comedy to drama to news. I joined for a few reasons. One, because I *love* making videos. It’s fun, it’s creative, it’s challenging, it’s empowering, what else needs to be said?

Second, I joined because of the connections. I want to be successful in the field of media someday. Why not get involved with a bunch of crazy-talented people who want the same thing?

Lastly, I joined for the experience. I need stuff to put on my portfolio in the future, and I thought this was a great way to get that. So basically, it was a chance for me to do something I love, make awesome friends, and gain experience that will help elevate my career. Tell me where the downside is here!

The sad thing was, I didn’t even know Telecasters was a thing until this year. Now that I’m in, I really wish I would have heard of it sooner. It just goes to show that if you put some time and effort into it, you can find opportunities like these to get involved.

MSU has more than 900 – yes, you read that right – student organizations, featuring everything from A Cappella to slam poetry to skiing to fencing to filmmaking, and even squirrel-watching and a Jedi council. Yep. The chances are, if you’re into it, there’s a club for it.

As I said earlier, there is no one right way to be a Spartan. That’s something I’ve kind of discovered this week, and something I want to reiterate. Find what you love, pursue it, and let the Spartans of the world see it and be a part of it. That’s the best way to immerse yourself in your school.

I had also planned to scope out some awesome “Glow Green” exhibits last night, but unfortunately, homework got in the way. Like many Spartans, my academics have to come before everything else, so I had to put my tour off a night. Be sure to check in tomorrow, though, as I’ll have a lot of content to hit you with: today I’ll be attending a talk by Tyler Oakley, scouting out some “Glow Green” displays, and maybe attending an exclusive event with a prominent Spartan alumnus VIP… stay tuned and check back in tomorrow!

October 20, 2017 

Happy Friday everyone! I can’t believe the week it’s been. Life as a Spartan is always busy, but when you’re writing a blog about Homecoming week, Homecoming week is a lot busier than most.

Yesterday was probably one of the craziest days of my school year so far, but it didn’t start that way. I got to my internship after my Filmmaking 1 class and sat at my desk and starting piecing together my Thursday blog post, when all the sudden my supervisor, Lisa, asked if I’d checked my email yet. I hadn’t, so I did, and I was very surprised at what I had found.

Apparently, Lisa had sent my blog to a guy named Scott Westerman, who just happens to be the head of the Alumni Association. He must have been impressed with it, because he then invited to be a guest at the Alumni Grand Awards Gala – a black-tie optional event at the Kellogg center that recognizes the most accomplished and generous of our alumni. Of course, I couldn’t say no, so I texted my best friend asking to borrow a pair of heels and penciled it into my calendar.

Before heading to that event, however, I stopped by the Comm Arts building to see our beloved Grand Marshall, Tyler Oakley, answer students’ questions about how to be successful in media. I’m so glad I stopped by, because Tyler was a great person to hear from. He’s crazy smart, extremely talented, and super successful, but is also one of the most genuine, down-to-earth people you will ever meet. You could tell just by his demeanor that he was truly happy to be there for the students.

Tyler's Stage at Comm Arts

Tyler said a lot of good things during his talk, but a few things stuck out to me. First was his definition of success: “Success comes from following something you think is meaningful and making something you could have benefitted from in the world.” Whether it be by being the role model you didn’t have, teaching others something you wish you’d known, giving others a resource you wish you’d had… that’s how you can be successful, in Tyler Oakley’s mind.

He also gave sound advice about how to make the world a better place, even when you feel overwhelmed by its negativity. Making a difference is “doing what you can do at the time that you can do it,” as he said, meaning that you don’t have to do everything, you just have to do something. His example was his contribution to the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization that focuses on support and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth. What started as an internship ended with a partnership as Tyler became more successful and able to give more generously.

The final piece of advice he gave that really stuck with me was about creativity – and what to do when you feel like you’ve all but run out of it. His advice was to surround yourself with creative people. It seems simple, but surrounding yourself with talented, fun, imaginative people can help you generate your own original ideas. He shared with us that he hit a creative wall after running his YouTube for almost 9 years, but broke through it by reaching out to people and bringing in a “crew” to help him elevate his production capabilities and create new content, totally different than what he had done before.

Tyler Oakley

As a final sendoff, he said one last thing that resonated with me immensely: “Life is really good when you dream big, keep your expectations low, and work hard.” Like I said, I’m really glad I was able to stop by and hear Tyler speak. As an aspiring media student, it was exciting and inspiring to hear from somebody similar to me who truly found success in life.

Elizabeth SchondelmayerAfter the talk, it was go-time for me. To make sure I made the event on time, I jumped on my bike, raced back to my house, and put makeup on for the first time in probably a week. I was lucky to have a dress already ready to go, as trying to borrow or buy one last minute would have been almost impossible. I threw on the dress and some borrowed heels and called my boyfriend, who very nicely drove me to the Kellogg Center so I wouldn’t have to walk.

When I got there, at first, I did feel slightly out of place. Down to my core, I’ll forever be a jeans-and-a-tee-shirt kinda girl, so any occasion that requires me to squeeze into a cocktail dress immediately makes me feel a little uncomfortable. That being said, as soon as the evening picked up and I started chatting with the people around me, I felt much more at ease. Scott, who was busy running the show the whole evening, stopped by to welcome me to the event and thanked me for attending, which made me feel immediately more at home.

Johnathan KirklandThe ceremony was, to say the least, inspirational. Each person being honored at the ceremony was a poster child of what it means to be a Spartan – tenacious, bold, world-changing. Featured were such notable alumni as Broadway actor Jonathan Kirkland, who plays George Washington in “Hamilton,” (picture right); doctor Mona Hanna-Attisha, who helped to spearhead the investigation and recovery of the Flint water crisis; and educator Donald Maine, who is the current chancellor emeritus of Grand Rapid’s own Davenport University. Each of the Spartans featured expressed similar sentiments in their acceptance speeches: humility, pride, and the importance of helping others.

I was fortunate enough to be seated next to a couple from the D.C. area who encouraged me genuinely to use the evening for networking. “You’re not bothering anybody here,” the lady said, “You are in a room full of people who find happiness in helping current students.” And she was right. Going back to what Tyler had said, many of the Spartan alumni in that room were looking to give back to students, as they had been through the struggle of being a twenty-something expected to make huge life decisions and wanted to make it easier for us than it was for them.

Gala table

After leaving the event that night, the first thing I did was take off my heels and trade them out for my trusty red Converse. The second thing I did, however, was think about what it means to leave a Spartan legacy, and dream of someday being successful enough to be able to offer assistance to future Spartans. After all, Spartans are family, and what else is family for?

On my way back from the Kellogg Center, I stopped to take a few photos of Sparty and the Football Stadium, as both were lit up green for the “Glow Green” tradition. The whole time, however, my brain was still drowning in its own thoughts and questions: What is success? What does being a Spartan mean? How can I be as successful as the Spartans I heard from tonight? I walked back home and drove around East Lansing neighborhoods looking for more “Glow Green” stuff. And while I didn’t find too many elaborate displays, a lot of houses were participating with a single green light or two. Nothing crazy, just a simple green light. And as I drove back home, it kind of hit me: Spartan. Success. Green.

Sparty - glow green

Union - Glow green

Green, to me, has always represented newness, originality, and freshness. Green means opportunity. Green means victory – like the triumph of new leaves budding after a harsh winter. To me, that’s what being a Spartan is about. Coming up with new ideas. Challenging the status quo. Not being afraid to ask questions, defy standards, or be a little unorthodox – if it means getting the job done and getting the problem solved. All Spartans are different and have different passions, but we’re united in our relentless pursuit for our causes. And being successful doing those things means somehow making a difference, and being a part of the Spartan family means helping future Spartans do the same.

This has been an incredibly long post, so if you’ve stuck with me this long – thank you. You’re a trooper. Tonight I’ll be headed to the parade, so expect to see one last post from me tomorrow before the big game. I promise it won’t be as long or as sappy, but I’m glad for this chance to reflect on my experiences yesterday, and I’m hoping you, the readers, have gotten something out of it, too.

Happy Friday, y’all. Go Green.

October 21

Hello Spartans! I’m sitting here writing this blog whilst watching the game. Well, it’s less me watching and more my friends explaining the plays to me. If you’ve managed to stick with my ramblings this long, thank you! I hope you’ve had as much fun reading this blog as I have writing it.

So, I’m going to try to keep this post as brief as possible and cut to the good stuff! Yesterday, I went to my internship and worked on the Friday blog, then went to the pre-parade reception (where I met Tyler Oakley, but you know, no big deal, it’s fine, I’m fine) and then the parade itself.

Sparty

 

Cookies!

The verdict?

Tyler = Amazing. Wonderful. Sweet as can be. So kind. So awesome. So amaz- wait, did I say that already? (Also, shout out to his video guy, Nathan, for letting me use this pic – I appreciate you!)

Liz and Tyler selfie

 

The parade = Fun. Super well-organized. Exciting. Riveting. So many incredible floats and lovely people. (The obvious highlight was this year’s Zeke the Wonderdog. (Sorry, Tyler.))

Zeke

To get to the serious part, this week was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had so far as a Spartan. I promised I wouldn’t get too sappy, and so I won’t. All I am going to say is this: No Spartan is left out. No Spartan is excluded. There is no right or wrong way to be a Spartan. Just get out there, pursue your dreams, and invite your university along for the ride, and you’ve done it.

Thank to everyone who shared in this experience with me and made this possible. It’s been a crazy yet unforgettable ride.

Lastly and most importantly…

Go GREEN.