All the planning was done. A last-minute sleeve repair, flowers picked and arranged, a slight manicure mix-up corrected, arrival of family and friends, a successful welcome party and some prayers for no rain had been completed. All that was left was the actual wedding festivities for my daughter and new son-in-law.
The day started a little iffy weatherwise. There was still rain in the forecast and no one wanted to move the ceremony indoors because a backdrop of a Great Lake is just too beautiful to sacrifice. A shower appeared but took its exit minutes before we began the processional.
As the officiant (or rather, officiAUNT since she is also my sister) began the ceremony and said, “…the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan…” the overcast clouds parted, and a ray of sun beamed down on the bride and groom. We all gasped at the incredible timing of Mother Nature.
The rest of the day was just as perfect. Besides the gorgeous couple, stunning views, warm and inviting spaces, great food and perfect décor, the most important thing was how perfectly our families blended. Our group came from Seattle, New York City, Illinois, Indiana and all over Michigan.
While it wasn’t a large gathering, our backgrounds were far from the same. Black, White, Asian Indian, Jewish, Christian, city dwellers and suburbanites. Doctors, teachers, moms, dads, kids and babies. Straight, gay, single, divorced, married and widowed. Young, old, tall, short and everything in between. None of the differences mattered, we all became family. Family isn’t just what you’re born into. It's the group created from those you choose to surround yourself with on the days that mean the most.
I didn’t lose a daughter — I gained a son and a beautiful extended family made up of wonderful people in his life. What an incredible gift and what an amazing feeling of belonging.
It’s kind of like that when you become a Spartan. You gain a huge, and I mean huge, extended family of those who bleed Green and White. We come from all walks of life but are bound together by those things that make us Spartans. No matter who you are or where you come from, you belong to a community of leaders, lifesavers and world-changers.
Whether you know them or not, outstanding award-winning faculty like engineer Alexandra Zevalkink, who is exploring space-age materials, become a part of your family. Brilliant students and alumni who were recently nominated for prestigious graduate school scholarships make up your circle.
But you don’t have to be solving complex research problems or winning awards to be a Spartan. The ways to be a successful Spartan are endless. No matter the path you choose, you belong here to discover your full potential and chart a course doing something you love.
As Spartans, we also look out for each other and the greater world. Like by partnering with Apple to open a Developer Academy in Detroit to create new career opportunities for the community. Or by serving others by volunteering. This Saturday many Spartans will be doing just that by taking part in the Fall 2021 Spartan Day of Service.
If you can’t make it to one of those projects, make up your own day of service. Rake someone’s leaves, donate to a shelter, reach out to someone who needs a friend, read aloud to a kid. The smallest gesture could make a profound impact.
Doctoral student Lori Bruner is exploring the impact of reading aloud to children. She has some great tips on how to facilitate learning. Check out her Student view: Make reading aloud to kids count for those and other great advice.
One thing about big families is that there is always someone to go to for good advice. Most likely, someone else has been in your shoes and can help. If nothing more, a listening ear is always welcome. When you extend your “family” in whatever way you choose, you know that you are never alone.
No matter where you are in life, reach out to your Spartan family whenever you need to. Life is hard, but you aren’t in it alone. We Spartans have each other’s backs. You’re amazing and you belong here. Our family ties are made of Green and White and a whole lot of Spartans Will.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner