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July 29, 2020

A smelly life lesson

July 29, 2020

“What in the world? What is that horrible smell?” That’s what ran through my head when I opened my car door and got in the driver’s seat this past weekend. I was grateful I was already wearing a mask. Between my eyes watering and starting to gag, the realization hit me. No, oh please, no. I got out and opened the hatch and, sure enough, there was the pungent proof of my error.

Somehow, when I returned from grocery shopping the previous weekend, I had forgotten to take in a pork loin I had purchased. Did I mention my car had been shut up in 85-degree heat for six days? It was in a cloth bag so putrid juice had leaked onto my car’s carpeting. I have spent some part of every day since then trying different remedies to remove the horrible smell — vinegar, carpet fresh, baking soda and charcoal. It’s definitely fading but the stink is still lingering.

Major life lesson learned — check and double-check that you’ve carried in all your groceries, especially in the summer. Like a lot of life lessons, it was only learned after a less-than-pleasant experience. 

Ti’Air Riggins is a biomedical engineering doctoral candidate. She says that at her previous institution, she was told she “did not have what it takes to be an independent researcher by two previous advisers,” and that it affected her immensely. I’m sure it wasn’t a pleasant experience, but it gave her the determination to pursue her work on implanted neurotechnology after finding a mentor at MSU. That life lesson paid off as she was recently awarded the National Institutes of Health Blueprint Diversity Specialized Award in Neuroscience. Read her STUDENT VIEW: Prolonging the function of brain implants, to learn more about her academic journey and her fascinating research.

Nothing about the past few months has been easy or pleasant as we all have had to adjust our way of living amidst a pandemic. But I’d challenge that we’re all learning life lessons about ourselves, our work, what’s important in life and our connections to others. I’m guessing there are still many more lessons ahead of us as we adapt to a new school year. It might not be as smelly as my car, but the whole situation does kind of stink.

But we’re Spartans and we will make the best out of whatever life hands us. We will adapt. We will get creative and find ways to teach, learn, research, serve and continue our mission. This pandemic is tough, but it’s not as tough as the will of Spartans.

Prabu David, the dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, recently wrote a column with some advice about the coming school year. He says, “As we prepare for the challenging months ahead, it is important to remember that the only way to build trust is to earn it through actions.” Read his FACULTY VOICE: Leading in a pandemic, to learn about his thoughts on trust, leadership, values, principles and flexibility.  

I can’t imagine how hard it is to be a leader of anything right now. There’s so much uncertainty about everything, but decisions still have to be made to fit any number of scenarios. President Stanley has been doing an incredible job of leading MSU and preparing Spartans for whatever is around the next corner. Read his latest presidential update from this week for more details.

Many MSU researchers have dedicated their careers to studying topics that offer help and advice for living better lives. They offer some insights into life lessons you may have learned or even tips on learning some new ones. Check out a few stories from this week about coping with depression, career fatigue and happiness and marital status.     

There are life lessons to be learned every day, even in a pandemic. It’s OK to make a mistake, as long as you learn something from it. Try something you never thought you would. Take a risk or explore something new. If you fall down or make a mistake, simply get back up, tuck the life lesson in your pocket and keep going. #SpartansWill.


Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday
twitter bird@LMulcrone


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