May 13, 2020
Monday morning was hard. I had slept terribly, I felt exhausted, it was colder than it should be for mid-May, I was already stressed and anxious before I got out of bed and I had more than a full day of work ahead of me. Oh yeah, and we’re in a worldwide pandemic. It took a Herculean effort to drag my tired bones from the warm comfort of my bed. Let’s just say, I did not leap up with excitement to seize the day.
Yet, what choice did I have? I had places to be (my upstairs office), people to see (via Zoom), a dog to feed (though she wasn’t budging either) and work to get done. So, while I might not have sprinted to the shower shouting, “Carpe diem!” I did at least do the more literal translation and “plucked the day” — at least a tiny edge of it.
I know I’m not alone. No matter what you are handling in your life right now, I’m certain there are days that just feel too big to tackle. Or, because it’s one more day of quarantine and doing the same things, it actually feels too little to even bother with. But still, we find ways to buck up and seize whatever part we can to make our days matter. We are Spartans, after all.
This Saturday, the university will officially celebrate the achievements of the class of 2020 with a virtual commencement. I am certain that many of the graduates will think, “Now what?” I’m here to tell you that’s a common thought for grads even when we aren’t in a pandemic.
We spend our lives working to get through school. Almost all of our entire childhoods are spent in classrooms. Those of us lucky enough to attend college move our focus onto bachelor and advanced degrees. That focus is so intense, so all-consuming that when it’s over, many of us are left wondering what happens next. Even with a job in hand, the question is still there.
That’s why we call it commencement, which means a beginning or a start. While schooling is done, life is far from over. With finals taken, projects completed, parking tickets paid off and degrees in hand, the next phase of life is just beginning. It’s a fresh start to seize every day with the knowledge, skills, education you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
This year, especially, I imagine graduates will be wondering what’s next because honestly, none of us really know. That’s why we “pluck the day” and enjoy the moment, even if the moment is a virtual one.
In the words of Sarise Hammad, a 2020 global and international studies graduate, “An immediate graduation commencement does not take away from how powerful we all are as individuals.” That’s what I’m talking about. Seizing the moment and building on it for the future. Learn more from Sarise by checking out the video in the STUDENT VIEW: A Message to my fellow graduates.
Kelsie Lane, a 2020 graduate majoring in arts and humanities in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities and studio art in the Department of Art, Art History and Design, seized every opportunity she was given at MSU. I should know, she interned in our office and never met a challenge she couldn’t conquer. At one point, she held four jobs at once while being an outstanding student. She also does beautiful, award-winning graphics and has been a joy to work with. Check out her creative (of course!) STUDENT VIEW: Designing my future, to learn more about how she seized every day as a Spartan.
Benjamin Eshiwani, a 2020 graduate majoring in finance and a scholar of the Financial Markets Institute in the Broad College of Business, has probably asked himself, “Now what?” more than once. Because of his strong determination, smarts and Spartan spirit, the answer was most likely, “Something pretty amazing.”
Benjamin grew up in a shantytown in Kenya where he daydreamed about a life he hoped to live that didn’t involve living in the tenements. Now, a proud Spartan graduate, he has come full circle and hopes to bring change to where he is from. Read his captivating STUDENT VIEW: Becoming a Spartan, to learn more about this inspirational young man.
Now what? Well, no one can really guess, can they? As much as we prepare for tomorrow, life is just as likely to throw us a curveball. So, we seize the moment and make the best of it. That’s the Spartan way. We seize opportunities to learn, help, create, discover, care, teach and make the world a better place. This Saturday, we send more than 8,000 new graduates out into this uncertain world we’re living in. What I am certain of is that even when they find themselves asking, “Now what?” they already know the answer. Carpe diem, Spartans. Spartans Will.
Photo by Brooke Grabow, 2020 MSU graduate with a major in dietetics from the College of Agriculture and Natural Science