April 1, 2020
Well, it is no April Fools prank. We are still in the midst of a scary worldwide pandemic, taking precautions, keeping our distances, caring for others and hoping for better tomorrows. While it seems like everything has slowed down, so many people are keeping up a frantic pace to care for patients, deliver goods, feed people, educate kids, research solutions and so much more. There are heroes among us. Shout out to my special hero – my big sister, Lori, who is a primary care physician. Our world needs all the heroes we’ve got.
There are definitely many Spartans among those heroes. The regular work may have changed, but Spartans are finding new ways to apply their smarts, time, expertise and dedication to the challenges of the day.
A group of professors from across disciplines and colleges are working together to make 3D-printed medical face shields, working in their respective living rooms and thinking creatively about materials. Faculty experts are sharing their expertise about food safety, teaching kids, social distancing and relationships and more. Employees have donated more than 20 pallets of medical supplies to health care workers and first responders. We’re coordinating networks to help feed communities and support food businesses.
The university worked quickly with the state to help get graduating doctors and nurses in the field earlier than usual to help with the crisis. With 87 baccalaureate-prepared nurses, 61 medical doctors and 213 osteopathic physicians graduating, Spartans can make a pretty big impact. And we just announced a new drive-through testing center on campus.
And we are teaching. We are finding new ways to take care of students and teach them. Dan McCole, an associate professor of tourism and sustainability, tries to include some humor in his lessons these days, like using penguins for a Zoom background and wearing a tux. He spends time just talking to students before and after class, checking in on them in ways that have nothing to do with the syllabus. His first mantra is to be empathic. Read his FACULTY VOICE: Teaching during a crisis, to learn more about how he’s adapting his lessons.
And, if you’re looking to read something other than coronavirus-related stories, Spartans have you covered on that too. Check out the MSUTODAY FEATURE: Cesar Chavez’s legacy at MSU, to learn about his historic presence and influence at the university and in mid-Michigan. Mentioned in the feature is MSU’s Migrant Student Services. Luis Alonzo Garcia is the director and wrote a really beautiful FACULTY VOICE: My family love story from the fields, to complement the feature.
Even in these uncertain times, Spartans doing all they can to help is a given. Just like it’s a given that eventually, the peak of the crisis will pass, and we will return to a new normal. There will be tragedy and sadness for many along the way — I don’t mean to ignore or diminish that at all. In a similar way, I lost much of my normal last spring while my father was so sick. When he passed away, my new normal included loss and sadness, but there was still joy and hope to be found because of the seeds he had planted in my life.
Henry David Thoreau once said, “Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed... Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.”
We have planted the seeds. Just as I am seeing actual plants once again burst through the ground with new life, we will get through our current reality and bloom again. It may be hard to imagine it right now, but it’s there, just below the surface ready to create wonder.
Spartans all over the world have been the planters and caretakers of ideas and actions the world depends on. This crisis is no different. When faced with uncertainty and a new challenge, we find new seeds to plant. We might not have seen the blooms just yet, but there are certainly wonders to be expected. #SpartansWill.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner