July 1, 2020
Last weekend, like I do many weekends, I took my dog for a walk on campus. We kept our distance from others and I wore a face covering because, even outdoors, I want to be sure I’m not inadvertently risking infecting someone I might pass.
We started near the MSU Broad Art Museum and I let Islay Skye pick where she wanted to go. We meandered down Laboratory Row, through the paths near Beaumont Tower, past the new Billman Music Pavillion and finally across the bridge near the Spartan statue. I wanted to turn before the bridge, but my pup chose otherwise. And, I’m glad she did. As we approached the beloved icon, I noted a couple. All of a sudden, the man dropped to his knee and pulled out a box and we became an audience of two to a proposal.
Technically, an audience of three because someone who knew them was slyly recording it for posterity. I, of course, pulled out my phone to snap a sweet photo. After an appropriate amount of time to let them have their moment, I approached them to ask their names (Alyssa Picone and Nic Ryan) and for permission to use the photo. Both alumni, they assured me I could. You could tell how surprised she was. One day, she’s walking on campus and the next minute, she’s engaged. Expect the unexpected.
That’s pretty much life for all of us right now. None of us could have expected a worldwide pandemic that has us quarantined in our homes. I saw a post the other day that said, “I guess no one got it right five years ago when asked, ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’” Isn’t that the truth? Expect the unexpected should be the official theme of 2020.
But we adapt. We change what we do, where we go and how we live. We find new ways to keep kids entertained and unique ways to teach them. We have no other choice but to face each day with an open mind and flexible spirit because life is full of surprises. No matter how well we think we’ve planned for something, life is certain to throw us a curveball.
Still, we have to plan. Which is exactly what we’re doing at MSU right now. We are planning for a return to campus in the fall. We know it will be a different fall than we’ve ever had but we will adapt, pivot, change and get creative in order to keep everyone in our community safe. For specific details, read the recent message from President Stanley that outlines details like face coverings, testing, living on campus and more.
We also have to face the financial realities and their impact. The university recently released its 2020-21 budget that had to account for the times we’re in.
But, just like a sweet marriage proposal, not all unexpected occurrences are bad. Even while in the midst of a pandemic, Spartan researchers are doing unexpected things like using robots to assist neurological impairment recovery, pinpointing a protein’s supporting role in Kennedy’s disease and performing a first-of-its-kind surgery for a cat.
When Monica Johnson was a small child, she might not have expected to be a supply chain management graduate student in the Broad College of Business. Adopted at an early age, Monica “didn’t have that early childhood education that most people have,” so she “started a little bit behind the curve.” Watch her STUDENT VIEW: Making the most of her Spartan experience, to learn more about her inspiring academic journey.
Expect the unexpected. Be as prepared as you can but understand that even the best-laid plans can be upended in an instant. Also, realize that many times the unexpected can be incredible. As Spartans, our grit, determination, smarts and flexibility have us prepared for anything — even if we’re not expecting it. #SpartansWill.