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Feb. 5, 2020

Pack it up

Feb. 5, 2020

I used to stink at packing for a trip. I’d grab a big suitcase and stuff it with four outfits per day, more shoes than needed, every imaginable toiletry and the kitchen sink. Ok, maybe not the kitchen sink, but I probably would have if it had fit. That was then. Now? I consider myself an expert packer.

I just returned from a quick mini-vacation in Mexico to escape the gray days of Michigan. I fit everything I needed in a small “personal item” backpack. Not a carryon, but basically a large purse. With a little ingenuity, some downscaling, a couple of space bags and a prayer, I had everything I needed for some fun in the sun. For me, it’s a badge of honor to pack light, and it’s free. Not to mention how effortless it is to slip a small pack at your feet instead of shoving a carryon above, which is almost impossible when you’re as short as I am. Easy, breezy, traveler girl.

suitcaseI learned the skill of packing light when I traveled to 11 countries and four continents in eight weeks for a work assignment — with only a carryon and a computer bag. To be fair, I didn’t need any fancy clothes and most of the locations were warm, but I still consider it a great accomplishment. And you know what? There wasn’t a single day where I thought, “Darn, I wish I had…” Sure, I washed clothes in hotel sinks and wore the same pair of shoes every day, but I survived just fine.

Packing underwear creatively is one thing but imagine coming up with a way to package a rocket. Or designing sustainable packaging that protects the planet. Imagine creating something that would keep food or medicine safe or intelligent packaging that can issue safety alerts.

That’s exactly the kind of innovative work going on in the discipline of packaging science. As home to the top-ranked School of Packaging, MSU has turned out more than half of all packaging professionals in the nation. You might think you know what they do, but I bet you don’t. Check out the MSUTODAY FEATURE: Thinking beyond the box, to learn why Spartans are the best in the field.

I’m not sure what kind of a packer Valerie McNamara is, but even as a freshman studying international relations, she’s already had the opportunity to travel abroad with MSU. Read her STUDENT VIEW: Embracing new opportunities, to learn how her first semester taught her to “embrace new opportunities and change.”

Given Mohamed Satti’s career, I would guess that he’s become a pretty good packer. A faculty member in the College of Human Medicine’s Division of Public Health, he is an expert in infectious diseases, particularly those caused by parasites. His work has taken him to Sudan and Denmark for research. He’s committed to both research and teaching and says, “Satisfaction comes from being able to share your knowledge with students and seeing how that affects their lives and makes a difference for them. Read his FACULTY VOICE: Defending against invaders, to learn more about his work and why he says, “One scientist may not solve the whole problem, but each of us can contribute to the solution.”

I love that outlook. Right now, there is research going on in labs across campus and the world that is simply laying the groundwork for the next amazing breakthrough. Individually, Spartans are pretty dang brilliant. Collectively we have incredible power to change the world. Even if it takes generations to find the ultimate solution to a problem, Spartans pack every day full of work that will lead to fantastic discoveries.

We all pack a lot into our days. Sometimes, it pays to go a little lighter and take a breather. Don’t weigh yourself down with unneeded baggage — be smart about what you carry and what you leave behind. And if you see someone struggling with more than they can carry, be a true Spartan and lend a hand. The journey is better when we’re all along for the ride. #SpartansWill.


Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday
twitter bird@LMulcrone



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