Sometimes, a little light appears in your life when you least expect it, but maybe when you need it the most. It’s no secret that January was a struggle for me, and it didn’t get any easier at the end of the month. My dad would have celebrated his birthday on Jan. 30. I miss him every single day, but pictures from previous birthdays appeared on my social accounts, making it even harder. And, in typical fashion, I even picked up my phone to call him and let him know how I was feeling. Even after 18 months, I still think of calling him at least once a week.
So, even while the sun was shining and I didn’t have to work, I was still in a bit of a funk. I ran out to gather some curbside pickup orders and realized that somehow my gas tank was almost empty. I pulled into the closest gas station, one I never go to, and began filling my tank.
Suddenly, a charming gentleman in a hat (and mask) using a cane came around the pumps and said in the loveliest Italian accent, “A Fiat? I haven’t seen one in years. It’s beautiful.” He then proceeded to ask me questions about the year, mileage and if I loved it. (I do.) Then, he told me about the one he had in Italy in 1954 and how it was also red. We conversed about my trip to Italy, his memories and more. As we wrapped up, he said, “Thank you for sharing a nice conversation with a stranger that let me reminisce about the old country.”
I teared up and said, “No, thank you.” Despite the Italian accent and being taller, he reminded me so much of my dad who could make friends with anyone. Instead of being sad, I smiled through my tears and thought about how sometimes things happen at the right time — just when we need them. This small exchange lifted my spirits and lightened my day.
And while we’re still all fighting the darkness of this pandemic, there is truly light at the end of the tunnel. We’re seeing it with each vaccine given and in the hope of a renewed spring. MSU continues to be part of the solution — including revamping our Early Detection Program and issuing an enhanced-physical-distance directive to keep the community safe.
In another way to keep our community safe and inclusive, we announced a new vice president for public safety and chief of police and released important webcasts from the Task Force on Racial Equity.
Angel Delich, a freshman majoring in journalism, has found a calling to also keep communities safe and inclusive by using her storytelling skills to enact change. In 2020 she was named one of PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs' 20 under 20 up-and-coming storytellers. Read her Student view: ‘Making the truth known’ to learn more about this impressive Spartan.
Judge Isidore Torres was another Spartan who worked hard toward inclusion. Before graduating high school, he was a migrant worker who went on to graduate from MSU and Wayne State Law School and became the first Chicano judge in Wayne County, Michigan. He passed away in January, but Luis Garcia, the migrant student services director at Migrant Student Services, and Rubén Martinez, professor of sociology, penned a Faculty voice: Judge Torres’ legacy to honor his spirit and dedication.
Even in the darkest days, Spartans are bringing light to the world. Our research in FRIB isotopes, fighting climate change with switchgrass and a new mobile outreach clinic will certainly make for better tomorrows. And all Spartans can celebrate new online grad program rankings that have our programs among the highest in the nation.
Those are all pretty big deals, but it doesn’t take a major research finding or national ranking to change someone’s day for the better. Sometimes it’s as simple as a pleasant conversation. You never know how your actions might be the light in their day. Do your best to be a light. Spartans Will.
Lisa MulcroneEditor, MSUToday