Dec. 11, 2013
Ever since late Saturday night, I can’t get Ethel Merman out of my head. That’s what happens when you watch Spartan football with your musical theater daughter—everything relates to a Broadway tune, even a trip to the Rose Bowl.
So all week long in my head, “You’ll be swell! You’ll be great! I can tell. Just you wait. That lucky star I talk about is due! Honey, everything's coming up roses for me and for you!”
Which is really pretty applicable to our football team. And, I’ll hazard a guess that I’m not the only Spartan humming that tune this week. After all, it’s been 26 long years since MSU has been to the coveted bowl game in Pasadena, Calif.
A lot can happen in 26 years. A lot has happened at MSU since 1988. Our team has been to 16 other bowl games. Our men’s basketball team won a national championship and has had 21 NCAA tournament appearances. Our women’s basketball team was a runner-up to national championship. The men’s hockey team won a national championship. We’ve had Big Ten titles in those sports and in women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s soccer, volleyball, indoor track, baseball, men and women’s golf and rowing.
Which is all great—but MSU is about so much more than just sports and winning games and championships—much, much more.
In 26 years, MSU has educated tens and tens of thousands of students, sending them out to make a difference as doctors, engineers, nurses, poets, CEOs, teachers, musicians, entrepreneurs, scientists, historians, authors, counselors, physicists, elected officials, community developers, leaders, lifesavers, world changers and more.
Every day in those 26 years, someone’s life has probably been saved by cisplatin, one of the world’s most widely used cancer drugs, discovered at MSU in the early 1970s. Who knows how many people have been saved through decades of MSU research to prevent and treat malaria in Africa that kills as many as a million people each year? How many children have grown up to be adults in that time who were helped though MSU programs that provided better food, clean water or medical care? How many communities are better than they were three decades ago thanks to some sort of MSU research or outreach? Just how many people have been touched by the work of Spartans? That number is just too big to count.
There’s no doubt about it, Spartans are champions in a much bigger arena than at any athletic event. Spartans are helping win the game of a better life. They’re working in laboratories, classrooms, fields, cities, in Michigan, across the country and around the world.
Spartans like Mark Kadrofske, an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Human Development at MSU and an attending neonatologist at Sparrow Hospital's Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. His lab at MSU has been studying the role of the enteric nervous system on enterocyte migration and wound healing in the intestine. How much more valuable a player can you be than if you literally are saving lives? Read more about his work in the FACULTY VOICE: Predicting the Unpredictable.
This weekend during fall commencement ceremonies, we’ll send close to 2,000 new graduates out into the world to make their mark. They’ll leave MSU with smarts, skills, talents and a lifetime of experiences that have helped shape who they are and what they want to do with their lives.
Though she’s not graduating until spring, senior Caroline Williams says that the opportunity she had doing undergraduate research in Chennai, India for six weeks followed by a four-week study abroad at Kathmandu University in Nepal, pointed her toward a career path she hadn’t previously explored. Read more about her experience in the STUDENT VIEW: Four weeks in Nepal. I have no doubt everything will come up roses for her too.
So, while you cheer on the football team and celebrate their achievement, take a minute to cheer on all Spartan champions, not just those on the field. We’ve got a history of making a difference in this world and as Ethel says, “And nothing’s gonna stop us ‘til we’re through!”
Photo of Spartan Stadium in the spring by Derrick L. Turner