Oct. 21, 2015
Sometimes, unbelievable things happen. Sometimes, life really is stranger than fiction. Sometimes, you just shake your head and say, “What the heck just happened?” Maybe a chance meeting led to relationship. Perhaps a strange coincidence turned into something meaningful. Maybe a failure turned into a success. Or somehow your life took a new path because of an improbable occurrence. You never know what might happen – the key is to be ready for anything.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the unbelievable happened at last Saturday’s football game. As the clock ended, thousands of people were screaming in shocked jubilation and thousands more sat in stunned disbelief. In a final play that will forever be a part of MSU lore, somehow and against all but the slimmest odds, the Spartans emerged victorious. As my coworker said, if it were a "Friday Night Lights" episode, we’d all be saying it was preposterous. And yet, there it was – a completely incredible moment in true life.
There are those who have said the Spartans were given the game because of a Wolverine mistake. Let’s think about that. Yes, a mistake was made – in coaching and on the field. But the Spartans had to be ready, willing and able to take an unbelievable occurrence and turn it into success. Without the will to find a way to win, a belief that it could happen, the boldness to try and the skill to execute it, we might have had a different ending. But those were Spartans on the field. Spartans never sit back and let life happen to them. Spartans never give up – on or off the field.
After the game, defensive end Shilique Calhoun said, “The thing we stressed was believe, believe in each other, believe in yourself and just keep pushing forward.” That is the Spartan attitude that gets things done. Even in the most improbable situations, Spartans are ready to succeed. Spartans are always poised to turn incredible opportunity into discovery and success.
Fifty years ago, MSU biophysical chemist Barnett Rosenberg made an accidental discovery that changed the way we treat cancer. While studying the effect electric fields had on bacterial growth, he found unexpected results that led to developing a treatment therapy using cisplatin. The treatment is widely used and has been very effective. For instance, before cisplatin’s discovery the cure rate of testicular cancer was just 10 percent, but when combined with early detection the cure rate is now approaching 100 percent. Rosenberg was ready, willing and able to turn the unexpected into something that saves lives.
Not every unforeseen happening leads to something as big as curing cancer. But turning opportunity into wins happens on campus every day. It might happen in research labs, classrooms, study halls, performance spaces, athletic fields or anywhere you find Spartans. Sometimes the wins are research discoveries or big wins against a rival team, but they can also be as simple as finding a path in life.
Meghan Milbrath stands at the ready to take advantage of every opportunity that might lead to solving the honeybee population problem. What started as a hobby as a child, led to her research focus on these important pollinators. To learn more about her work as coordinator of the Michigan Pollinator initiative, read her FACULTY VOICE: Honeybees and Pollinators.
When Kara Harrison was still in high school, a simple Google search led to an unexpected finding of a perfect intern fit for her at MSU. The junior from Mattawan, Michigan, who is majoring in dietetics, interns at MSU's Spartan Performance, which provides an integrated, holistic approach to the care and training of mid-Michigan athletes. In true Spartan fashion, she says, “I lead a very enthusiastic, passionate and positive life. I have a desire to learn and a determination to be better than average.” To learn more about her student experience, read her STUDENT VIEW: Be Better Than Average.
Spartans are better than average, that's for sure. Even when something seems completely impossible, Spartans look for the smallest bit of opportunity and run with it. We are always ready. We are always prepared. Who will turn unbelievable circumstances into wins for all of us? Spartans Will.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner