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Aug. 16, 2023

Student view: Finding a college that makes room for my passions

Maren Case is a fourth-year student from Kalamazoo, Michigan. She began her MSU journey in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, where she majors in arts and humanities with minors in writing and religious studies. The small college environment within a large university was the perfect fit for Case to pursue all of her interests — ranging from a cappella to writing to sharing the history of MSU’s Beaumont Tower — and form meaningful connections with professors and students.

I first learned about the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities via a mailer I received during high school. I had not heard of the program before, but it offered areas of study in every academic field that I was interested in. In high school, I had several intellectual passions, but I couldn’t succinctly pinpoint what career I wanted to pursue out of those areas of study. When I was exposed to RCAH, I learned that I didn't have to sacrifice any of them but rather that I could bolster my interests by combining them into my academic path.

Before I learned about RCAH, I was already interested in MSU, but being invited to join the residential college was the last push I needed to make the final decision to become a Spartan. When I came to East Lansing for the first time, I was absolutely drawn to the beauty of the surrounding nature and the electric spirit that flowed through campus. I had never known what school spirit could be until I came here. I quickly learned that the Spartan spirit extends into every aspect of individuals’ lives and reaches across all corners of the globe, uniting us into something larger than ourselves. MSU offered a home to me and a catalyst for my growth that I couldn’t find anywhere else, and when I was invited to RCAH shortly thereafter, I knew I was meant to stay here.

Maren Case and RCAH penant
 Maren Case

I am involved with quite a few organizations at MSU. Most notably, I am a fourth-year member and current co-president of Capital Green A Cappella, MSU’s oldest award-winning all-gender a cappella group. In my sophomore year, I was the historian of Tower Guard, an academic honor society that partners with the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities to make MSU more accessible to all Spartans. And, within my college, I am an ambassador for my academic program who interfaces with potential new students, I have an internship in the communications department of RCAH, and I am a casual member of the college’s new music club, RCAHarmony.

Being in a residential college is so uniquely special because it fosters a space in which students can truly bond with one another and their professors and staff, and take charge of their academics as a whole. In RCAH’s case, I think getting the residential college experience truly changed how I moved through the program and relate to it. My first year was over Zoom so I obviously couldn’t achieve that integral piece of living in Snyder-Phillips Hall where I also would have attended my classes. Now, having had the opportunity to do just that, I feel much closer to all components of my college. I have fond memories of neighbors down the hall who would get breakfast with me at The Gallery dining hall and then head to the second floor for our class, where our professor would take the time to ask about our days. You become so much more than a name on a roster in a living-learning community like this one.

“I quickly learned that the Spartan spirit extends into every aspect of individuals’ lives and reaches across all corners of the globe, uniting us into something larger than ourselves.” - Maren Case

RCAH allows you to form sincere connections with students and professors who are passionate about similar interests. It becomes easy to work with like-minded individuals, and these relations are incredible for forming both deep friendships and professional connections that can be beneficial for pursuing a career. In a specific class in RCAH last year, the professor bonded with us students over our admiration for literature, and the final presentation I gave for the course became an essential steppingstone on the journey to acquiring my current writing internship.

Being a student in the college means you have access to all the fun amenities of a big university experience but also the benefits of a tightly knit community of passionate professionals and eager learners. Most classes are approximately no more than a dozen students, often smaller, and this means that the strict divisions between individuals dissolve into a mix of pursuers of knowledge working together to answer difficult questions. Many of my closest friends have come from RCAH because, though it shapes our intellect and critical thinking, it also offers a place to cultivate our characters. I love the experience of walking down the halls of RCAH and knowing every person, from a second-year student to the dean.

My instructors have also been incredibly supportive. In one of my classes with five other students, the professor became a dear mentor to us all who still sends us emails of encouragement now after the course has ended. The professors truly see their students as the next generation to carry the mantle of change-makers.

Learn more about residential colleges at MSU. 


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