July 17, 2019
Last weekend, I ventured down into the basement of my childhood home to make some headway in cleaning out my dad’s house. My parents moved in almost 60 years ago, so you can imagine how much has accumulated. Certainly, I and my sisters added plenty to the stash of memories.
I got to work on a section of the laundry room and the old bar in the corner, figuring it was manageable to tackle on my own. While in the laundry room, I found my 6th-grade softball bat tucked behind the door. When I reached up to begin emptying all the old (really old) liquor from a high shelf, I found the oddest collection of things: my nametag from my very first job and a ladle that was holding a huge Petoskey stone.
I don’t want to even guess how my nametag ended up on the liquor shelf in the basement or how the stone ended up in the ladle, but there they were. The most random collection of seemingly unrelated things that, put together, made sense to me. Separate, they are things of some practical use. Together, they are part of something much bigger — me.
I could hear the crack of the bat when I picked it up and gave it a swing for old time’s sake. I could smell Little Caesar’s store #3 as if I had just walked in and could even hear the ring of the bell when the door opened. I could feel sand in my toes while I scanned the beach for stones with my cousin and could taste punch served in that basement for many confirmation and graduation parties. Yes, all of those things go together, even when they don’t.
When I sat down for breakfast the next morning, I was thinking about how to tie together the very different stories that came across my desk for this week. Blueberries, social media and a water crisis. Then I looked down. I was literally eating blueberries, scanning social media on my phone and drinking a glass of water. And, there it was. Seemingly unrelated things that are all part of something bigger — stories happening right here at MSU.
There is a very good chance that MSU had some hand in the blueberries I was eating. Not only are they grown all over the state, but for more than half a century, the university has been a key player in bringing new blueberry varieties to the table. Since July is National Blueberry Month, it’s only fitting that we look at how Spartans have contributed to the industry in the MSUTODAY FEATURE: Building a better blueberry.
If you're reading this on your phone and worried about how your time on media devices affects your health, don’t worry too much. Keith Hampton, a professor of media and information is studying that very topic. Watch the short video FACULTY VOICE: Social media may help our mental health, and learn why he says, “Widespread concern that social media is having a negative impact on most people's mental health is somewhat overblown.”
What is not overblown is the importance of clean water in the world. Even here in Michigan, surrounded by the Great Lakes, we’ve seen the devastation of a water crisis in Flint. Geeta Kumari, a graduate student from India, says she still gets goosebumps when she remembers the morning her family woke up to no water during a shortage in India one summer. Check out her thoughtful STUDENT VIEW: Running out of water, to learn more about her experience and thoughts on the topic.
One of the reasons I love being a Spartan is because our community of students, staff and alumni is made up of so many different people doing different things. The stories and people I come across are as varied as you could imagine, but together the impact on the world is incredible. Just this week I’ve learned how Spartans are helping stroke patients, studying literacy, teaching music to students on the autism spectrum, detecting neutrinos, serving on gubernatorial task forces, planning homecoming, helping Flint, teaching med students and more.
Separately, they’re important but don’t really seem to go together. But, all of those dissimilar people, projects and research are woven together with the magic thread of being part of the Spartan nation. And we Spartans are amazing when we work together.
When you look around and think something doesn’t belong, look harder and think differently. The connections you can find might add up to something pretty spectacular. #SpartansWill.