This past weekend, I ventured out to my first real gathering with others in a very, very long time. Everyone in the small group was fully vaccinated or masked as we celebrated my niece’s graduation from veterinary school. I’m super proud of her because while she may not have taken the traditional path to get there, her grit and determination pushed her to fulfill her dream. I’m not surprised — one of her degrees is from MSU — because we Spartans know a thing or two about grit.
Her road reminded me a bit of mine and others in my family. The path to my degree and career took more turns than Lombard Street in San Francisco. My husband earned his bachelor’s while serving in the military and began law school the week after he became a dad. My talented daughter chose an unexpected college experience overseas. To paraphrase one of my favorite Robert Frost poems, I think we all can say we followed roads less traveled to get where we are.
I remember singing Frost’s, “The Road Not Taken” in my high school choir. I, with all the knowledge of a typical 16-year-old girl, thought I understood the poem exactly. And, while I knew that it was about choosing things that are different and following your own path, I never could have fully understood it until I had a few more years under my belt. I am now at the “somewhere ages and ages hence” part of my life, so reflecting on it means a little more. And, while every twist in my past wasn’t easy, it is all part of who I am today.
Brandon Drain, who graduated this spring with a degree in journalism, had more hard turns in his life than anyone should have to experience. Before becoming a Spartan, he lived in poverty and was homeless. Throughout high school, even while sleeping on friends' couches, floors and garages, he never lost sight of the future he wanted for himself. Read his inspiring Alumnus voice: Cultivating my life, to learn how his incredible resolve pushed him to succeed.
I’m guessing that earning a master’s degree in Hispanic literature at age 72 probably wasn’t on Margaret Kennedy’s planned road for life. But that’s exactly what she did when she earned her degree last month. Her motivation was “born out of love for her adopted son and a desire to learn more about where he is from.” Read her story to learn more about her journey.
If you’re wondering what the road has in store for MSU, check out the latest letter from President Stanley who offers some updates on plans for fall and university finances. Or, if you’re looking for some new paths to wander once you get back to campus, take a look at last week’s photo gallery for some inspiration.
If the road you’re on has you running on empty, don’t count on endless cups of coffee to keep you going. Recent research from MSU’s Sleep and Learning Lab shows relying on caffeine to make up for sleep deprivation isn’t the answer.
Instead, take care of yourself and get some real rest, so you have the fortitude to keep driving down whatever road you’re on.
I honestly think there is no such thing as a “normal road” for life. This great, big, beautiful world is filled with surprises and offers an infinite number of paths to success. Don’t ever judge your life against anyone else’s. Each road is “just as fair” as the next. Even if it’s scary, take “the one less traveled by.” It can make “all the difference.” Spartans Will.
Photo by G.L. Kohuth