July 1, 2015
I can’t get Randy Newman out of my head. Over and over the last week I’ve been singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story” in my head. I wake up singing it, I fall asleep humming it and it tiptoes into my thoughts throughout the day. I haven’t seen the movie in forever and I haven’t heard the song in probably years, yet, there it is, out of the recesses of my memories front and center today. Our brains are crazy, wonderful, unpredictable things, aren’t they?
I think I first started singing it when I was thinking about friendship. “Toy Story” is one of my favorite movies about friendship (not to mention one of my favorites overall) and I’ve been thinking about friends a lot lately. I am very, very lucky. I have some pretty incredible friends. Sure, friends are wonderful to hang out with while having fun, but they’re even more important when things get rough. I had a bit of a rough patch recently and without even stumbling, my friends were there. No questions asked, no assumptions made, no second-guesses, no hesitation – they were there when I needed them and I am eternally grateful.
I have friends who I’ve known since I was three months old (hi, Shannon), friends I met just a few months ago (waves to Aimee), even a few weird Internet friends I’ve never met in person (that’s totally a term of endearment and they know it) and I cherish every single one. I cherish even those who I’ve lost touch with or had a falling out with. I remember after a break up with a friend, one of my very best friends told me some really wise advice. She said, “Friends will come and go out of your life and that’s OK. You might not be in touch with the kid you played in the sandbox with when you were five, but that doesn’t make her any less important on that particular day in your life.” Advice like that is why Mirra has been my friend for more than 30 years.
Facebook was created for college students and was quickly adopted by high school kids, but once the “old people” jumped in, long-ago friendships were often rekindled. I know I’ve done that and it’s been pretty great to catch up. Even if I’m feeling lonely, I can usually find a friend on Facebook.
While it was created for socialization, Facebook might actually have some benefits for education. Recently, in a first-of-its-kind study, MSU’s Christine Greenhow found that high school and college students engaged in vigorous, intelligent debate about scientific issues in a voluntary Facebook forum. Check out the MSUToday article, “Is Facebook the Next Frontier for Online Learning,” to learn more about her findings.
Gary Willyerd, an associate dean and professor for the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at its Detroit Medical Center site, credits a friend and colleague for introducing him to a passion that has become a part of his life for the last 18 years. His friend and colleague invited him to go to Guatemala to work in a clinic providing care to underserved people of all ages and he was hooked. Now he leads groups of medical students, residents, physicians and others to Guatemala and Peru to do medical outreach. This August he’ll depart for the community of Belen, a disadvantaged area in the Amazon accessible only by air or boat. Read his FACULTY VOICE: Showing Students a World of Healing, to learn more about his work.
You never know when and old friend might reappear in your life. Andrew Chegwidden, a graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, now works with the father of a friend he went to high school with. Although he took a less traditional path to his studies, including a stint as a military officer, he’s pretty pleased with where he’s ended up – doing particle research as part of the Atlas Experiment at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. Read his STUDENT VIEW: The View is Amazing, to learn more about his studies.
You never know where you might run into an old friend, or a new one. With more than half a million MSU alumni around the world, my guess is it’s pretty easy to make friends with a Spartan, no matter where you are. Spartans are the best friends to have – they’re smart, loyal, courageous, compassionate, dedicated and will never let you down. You can never have too many friends so make a point to reach out and make some new ones.