April 1, 2015
“It’s not just what we do, but why and how we do it, that distinguishes us as Spartans. As Spartans, we have the heart, the talent and tenacity to make an extraordinary impact.” Those are the inspiring words of my ultimate boss around this place, Lou Anna K. Simon, the president of MSU. I simply love that quote and all the meaning behind it.
It’s a pretty awesome time to be a Spartan, isn’t it? Spring finally has sprung (I hope) and we’re in the national spotlight thanks to Tom Izzo and our team defying the odds and making it to the Final Four. Heart? Talent? Tenacity? Check, check and check when it comes to this team. They’ve figured out that they each have a role to play, but when they work together, the result is pretty incredible. They’ve figured out just what “Spartans Will” means to them and they’ve shown it every time they’ve stepped onto the court this tournament.
Though that quote can certainly be applied to our basketball team, it wasn’t said about them. It has a much, much bigger meaning than just athletics. Those student athletes are just a small number of the half a million Spartans there are in this world – all who demonstrate exactly what President Simon was talking about every day. Every day, Spartans around the globe show the uncommon will it takes to succeed – in classrooms, research labs, fields, hospitals, offices and more. It’s pretty incredible what a difference the will of Spartans can make.
Andrew Baker is not a member of the basketball team, but he absolutely has the uncommon will of a Spartan. He’s a senior studying biochemistry and molecular biology and is a research assistant in a lab studying the origins of life. But even those heady pursuits aren’t enough for him.
He’s also a leader in the Multi-Racial Unity Living Experience & Intercultural Aide Program, and he’s worked on a project that uses science in an art installation. He also took a group of students from his residence hall program to work at a Lansing-area community garden, because he believes strongly in pursuing humanitarian activities. Talk about the will to make a difference. Talk about the will to succeed. Read his STUDENT VIEW: Leading a Successful Life, to learn more about this impressive Spartan.
What kind of will does it take to study complicated science like particle astrophysics when you’re not even sure you'll be around to see the impact of your work? That’s exactly the will that Tyce DeYoung, an associate professor of physics and astronomy, has. He’s been working with the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, a billion-ton neutrino detector located at the South Pole.
But, he’s the first to admit that “it’s hard to point to a specific way in which knowing more about neutrinos will make our economy stronger or our lives safer or more comfortable.” He goes on to explain that today we enjoy countless benefits from similar research that took place even centuries ago, “driven purely by curiosity, with no useful applications in sight.”
Read his FACULTY VOICE: Basic Research is Cool, Very Cool, to learn more about his work and why he thinks basic research is so important.
I talk about Spartans Will all the time. If you’ve read my column before, you know I end every entry with it. It means something to me. It might mean something a little different to you, but it should mean something to everyone who is a Spartan.
Recently, Will “The Poet” Langford, a proud alumnus of MSU, decided to put what it means to him in eloquent verse. We filmed him at the MSU Auditorium reciting “Uncommon Will” and are using it as the anchor to this year’s President’s Report. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it yet, you must. Do not blame me if you get chills or tear up.
Check out the entire report, “Uncommon Will,” to learn more about the will of Spartans and find cool graphics to share on social media.
Spartans Will. It can be interpreted in many ways. Will is a powerful word. It’s both a verb and a noun and either way it embodies who we are and what we do as Spartans. Sometimes it even means hope.
I was recently moved to tears when I happened across a Facebook post by a friend of a friend. She’s battling another round of cancer and said, “…as a Spartan, one of my mantras...Spartans Will. I will overcome my fear, and with all of your love and prayers, I will be as strong as I can be!” Imagine that. Someone facing the hardest fight of their life holding on to that phrase as an instrument of battle.
Spartans Will. It’s so much bigger than two words. It’s who we are. It’s what we have. It’s what we do. It’s how we do it. It changes lives.
Photo by G.L. Kohuth