May 24, 2013
Kindergarten, elementary, middle, high school and college. That’s the path that many students take along their educational career. Mine started that way, but took a slight detour.
After my first year at MSU I got married and moved to Box Elder, South Dakota because of my husband’s Air Force assignment. I stayed in college, (night classes from Black Hills State in trailers on the base), but had to work full time. After almost four years, his tour was up and we came back to East Lansing to finish our degrees at MSU.
Since I was married, a bit older and working a 9 to 5 job, I was termed a “nontraditional” student. What I didn’t realize then is the university is filled with “nontraditional” students. That term doesn’t even make sense anymore. Students are students. Spartans are Spartans. Being older, working, having a disability, being a foster kid, having kids, being rich, being poor, coming from across the ocean—it doesn’t matter the path you take to get here—just that you succeed once you do.
Senior Logan Stark took an honorable, brave, selfless and dangerous path to MSU. Just four months before he enrolled, he had been serving his country as a Marine sniper in Afghanistan. I know his path was filled with awful things most of us will never have to see. I also know his path has led him to success here at MSU.
As a class project for an advanced multimedia writing class, Logan and two classmates produced “For the 25,” a documentary about members of the “Dark Horse” Battalion who served in Sangin, Afghanistan. Already the film has been viewed more than 12,000 times. Make sure to check it out. Watching it made me very proud to call him a Spartan. I thank him for his courageous service and also for his dedication to sharing an emotional part of his world with the rest of us.
I’m also proud of my university and the dedication it has to making sure veterans like Logan do succeed. There are all sorts of programs to help with enrollment, financial aid and other support veterans need, like a Student Veterans Information website for veterans to make sure they have access to resources.
And it’s not just student veterans who we help. MSU is involved in research that helps all vets. One recent project will look at transition from battlefield to civilian life and will work with National Guard veterans and their families. Another will train 1,000 mental health counselors to work with military families.
MSU also has teamed up with Michigan’s Workforce Development Agency for the Vets to Ag program that teaches vets agricultural skills so they can find employment.
In fact, MSU’s wide range of veteran services got a nod of recognition recently when it was named a 2013 Military Friendly School, which honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus.
This weekend we’ll celebrate Memorial Day. Between the barbeques and picnics, take a minute to do what the holiday was created for and remember those who have fallen serving this country. Watch Logan’s film and remember those 25 men he dedicated his project to. Remember the Spartans named on the wall at the Alumni Chapel. Remember all who gave the ultimate sacrifice.