This past Sunday I was scrolling through my phone when I saw a tweet with a video of trucks leaving the Pfizer plant in Portage, Michigan to deliver the first of the COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. Unexpectedly and without warning, hot tears sprung from my eyes. Even though I had been reading about vaccines for days, the hope that was represented by those semis hitting the road overwhelmed me. The first tangible hope for saving lives and beating this insidious disease was packed up and being shipped out.
More stories popped up throughout the day and I shed a tear nearly every time I read one. There were photos from the Capital Region Airport in Lansing as the trucks unloaded their cargo for air shipment. Hope radiated from every one of them. Even more poignant — it was happening right down the road from me. I couldn’t have been prouder to be a Michigander.
In the last few days, that precious cargo has been delivered all over the country and people have started to receive vaccinations. There is light at the end of this long tunnel. The fight is far from over, but research and modern medicine have turned our dark days into much brighter tomorrows.
I’m certain that somewhere along the line, Spartans are helping with this effort. Because, let’s face it, brilliant Spartans are everywhere, especially in Michigan. So, while I don’t know of specific people, I’m certain alumni are working at Pfizer and all along the supply chain that’s making this possible.
The most important thing that has allowed us this newfound optimism is science and research. Without scientists, there would be no vaccines. And, without research institutions like MSU, there would be no scientists. Though this particular cure didn’t come from a Spartan, every single research institution is vital to discovery. Brilliant minds need places to grow, learn, experiment and discover. New minds need teaching from those who have come before them. Those things happen every day at research institutions like MSU. It’s the hope we all need.
There is hope in the more than 2,600 MSU graduates who will be recognized this weekend in virtual commencement ceremonies. While the event will be a little different, the optimism graduation offers never changes.
Jennifer Thompson is one of those graduates who will be celebrating her achievements this week. She’s graduating with a master’s degree in public health from the College of Human Medicine. After having a stroke in her 20s, she was determined to not give up on her dream. Read her Student view: Reclaiming my future to learn how her hope and fortitude led her to this proud moment.
And our researchers haven’t stopped their important work to find solutions for all sorts of world challenges. Every single day they are asking the questions and finding the answers. They’re implementing wastewater testing statewide for early COVID-19 detection, studying links between diabetes, air pollution and lung disease, sharing information about our immune system and COVID-19, rethinking hydropower and finding ways to reduce plastic waste.
Hope truly does spring eternal. Without it, none of us would have made it these last nine months. Even in the darkest moments, we must seek out even the tiniest points of hope so that we keep going, despite the challenges ahead. That optimism leads to action and action leads to change. We all have the power to be a part of changing the world for the better. Spartans Will.
P.S. We've got a couple of special edition emails coming to you in the next few weeks, and we will be taking some time off of publishing the Weekly email following Christmas and the New Year. Since this is my 371st editor's note I've written since I started so many years ago, I'm going to take a few weeks off writing as well. I'll catch up with you all after the first of the year. My hope for all of you is a peaceful, healthy and happy New Year.