July 31, 2019
It was a familiar scene. One I’ve written about before. The shredded cheese I wanted was hanging from the top shelf, way in the back. I shifted my purse and began my climb up the grocery store shelf. As someone of pretty short stature, I’m often climbing store shelves. (If you see me, please don’t take video…I’m not very graceful.) This time, however, a very nice (and extremely tall) gentleman in a Spartan shirt offered to help. He easily grabbed what I was reaching for, handed it to me, and told me to have a good day. I thanked him profusely and went on my way.
I mean, of course, he was wearing a Spartan shirt, right? That’s how Spartans are wired — you see someone in need, you step in and help out. We couldn’t have been more different in our physical appearances — we were different races, ages and there was probably at least a foot difference in our heights. I’m certain our abilities in many areas are also dissimilar but, as Spartans, we all have the chance to find success even if the paths we navigate are completely different. At MSU, we believe that opportunity is for everyone. As Spartans, it’s part of who we are to simply find a way.
Being short is a minor annoyance, but many Spartans overcome much bigger obstacles on their paths to success. Graduate student and instructor of kinesiology Piotr Pasik says that growing up in Poland and the United States with cerebral palsy, he thought playing sports was a dream. Coming to MSU, he found campus accessible and was able to navigate it on his own. Now, he’s the director of MSU’s Adaptive Sports Club. Check out the short video in the MSUTODAY FEATURE: Defying expectations, to learn more about this determined Spartan and see why he says that for him, “The Spartan dream is the American dream.”
Carolyn Springer, a senior majoring in kinesiology, is motivated to help young students facing obstacles like disabilities and developmental delays follow their dreams and attain success just like Piotr did. After she graduates, she’s planning on attending grad school to become an occupational therapist. Read her STUDENT VIEW: Interning Down Under, to learn about her recent internship in Sydney, Australia and how she’ll apply what she learned to her future career.
Helping others is certainly part of a Spartan’s DNA. Barry Pittendrigh, an MSU Foundation Professor of entomology, says that MSU’s commitment to making a global impact is also part of it. Watch the short video in the FACULTY VOICE: In our DNA, to learn why he believes that it’s critical to have a globalized perspective when teaching students.
We, as a university, have certainly been challenged in the last few years. We’ve had to face ugly truths that rocked our community and struggled to find the right path. We have had to take honest looks at ourselves and work harder to make things right. There is so much good here and so much opportunity for amazing success that not finding a way isn’t an option.
While the past six months have given many of us renewed hope, today marks a really important step forward. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. formally begins his tenure as MSU’s 21st president. He knows the incredible job he has ahead of him and I, for one, believe he is up to the task. Everything I already know about him inspires confidence and a belief that he will be exactly what we need as we move forward.
He has said he is “proud to join the Spartan community” and I’m proud to welcome him. He also says, “MSU is a university with the scope and scale that few others possess. We provide extraordinary opportunities for learning, partnering and discovering solutions to prepare the next generation of citizens, scientists and leaders and to make a better Michigan and world.”
It sounds like he definitely knows what being a Spartan is all about. MSU is absolutely a place with extraordinary opportunities for everyone, no matter their differences, abilities, backgrounds or paths that led them here. Today is a new day — I can’t wait to see what happens next. Whatever it is, I know that together, we will find a way. #SpartansWill
Photo of Brody Square by Alyssa Maturen