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May 8, 2019

Defining moments

May 8, 2019

Success. It’s a word with only seven letters but one that carries the weight of something much heavier. What really is success? Merriam-Webster defines it as: degree or measure of succeeding; favorable or desired outcome; the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence; or one who succeeds. Hmmm…that doesn’t really help, does it?

Desired outcome? Wealth, favor or eminence? I’m pretty sure the definition of those would be pretty subjective depending on who you asked. By applying that back to the original word, I’m pretty sure success has as many definitions as there are people in the world.

One thing I do know, is that Spartans definitely know how to succeed. That success, however, comes in countless forms. We’re succeeding in medicine, business, science, agriculture, the arts, politics, education and more. Spartans have victories in classrooms, labs, offices, hospital rooms, fields and just about anyplace else you can imagine.

Some triumphs are huge — like finding a cure or making a major discovery. Some are smaller — like passing a hard class or getting a raise. But they’re all the very definition of success for the person achieving them.

There are some universal measures that the modern world uses to define success — graduating from college, landing a job and doing well academically. Check out the MSUTODAY FEATURE: Spartan success, to see how well Spartan grads stack up using those definitions.

Speaking of definitions, what defines you as a Spartan? Again, I think there are as many “right” answers as there are Spartans in the world, which is about half a million. Determined, daring, courageous, bold, proud, creative, dedicated, brave, passionate, hard-working — those are just some of the answers we got when we posed the question to students. Watch the short video MSUTODAY FEATURE: What defines you as a Spartan? to see students painting their answers on the Rock.

No matter your definition, I’m guessing everyone would agree that Selena Huapilla-Perez has achieved great success. She came from the life of a migrant worker to MSU where she earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary humanities with a double minor in Chicano/Latino Studies and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). She graduated last weekend and was the first Latina in MSU’s history to be chosen to give the address at Convocation. Read more about this incredible Spartan in the STUDENT VIEW: Living the American dream.

A lot of people would consider testifying before Congress about your field of work to be a pretty good measure of accomplishment. Eric Hegg, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, recently did just that. He testified before the Subcommittee on Research and Technology of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. Read his FACULTY VOICE: Testifying on behalf of science, to learn about his experience and why he believes that if “scientists don’t take advantage of these opportunities to get involved and explain the importance of our research, others, who are perhaps less informed, will do it for us.”

I could go on forever finding incredible examples of the achievements of Spartans. Students, faculty, staff and alumni are constantly celebrating wins in thousands of ways. And, our wins aren’t just for ourselves, but for the betterment of the world around us. Most importantly, we don’t let others define us or tell us success can only be measured one way.

Spartans own who we are and are motivated by what we’re capable of doing. Figure out what defines you and how you measure success. As you go through life, you can redefine yourself as many times as you want and find new ways to succeed. Whatever definition you settle on, never give up. Success is yours for the taking. #SpartansWill.

Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday
twitter bird@LMulcrone

Photo by Derrick L. Turner


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