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MSU Students Honor Inspiring Spartans

  • Author:

    Ryann Scherdt

  • Published:

    October 15, 2019

This year’s 2019 Homecoming theme, Spartans Inspire Success, highlights and recognizes the ways in which Spartans are using their education, talents and experiences as tools to uplift and strengthen others. 

In honor of this year's theme, we asked the Spartan community to submit stories of Spartans who empower them. Two students were selected as the winners. Hazel Anderson, a junior at MSU, wrote about Dr. Anne Pewe Khademian who excelled on a Cross Country scholarship at MSU and later went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Political Science. Araceli Alvarez, a senior at MSU, submitted a story on Erica Fiasky, a woman who broke through barriers as she pursued her education while also dealing with motherhood.

Both submissions reflect MSU's goal of bringing Spartans together through mentorship and inspiration.

Read the two inspiring Spartan stories below:

Hazel Anderson, '21 "A Spartan that has inspired me is Dr. Anne Pewe Khademian. She graduated from the same high school in Olivet, MI that I did, although many years before me. She attended MSU on a Cross Country/ Track scholarship, which was especially notable due to the fact that 1978 was the first year that MSU implemented the Title IX regulations. She had a phenomenal college career which included [many Big Ten and National awards]. She was unable to compete for a year and a half due to injuries but made full recovery and exceled as a fifth year senior. She was nominated into the Michigan State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016, which is when I first discovered her, and she became an inspirational figure to me. I was a high school junior, who had fallen in love with running through cross country and had just became regional champions with my team that fall. I was amazed that someone from my tiny high school in rural Michigan had gone on and ran at MSU. I was so excited that I sent a link to her hall of fame induction to my high school’s athletic director with a caption along the lines of “Isn’t this neat!?”. She is also being inducted into Olivet High School’s Hall of Fame first class of inductees later this fall.

In today’s athletic world, the top recruits often come from private or charter schools or schools that everyone knows have a lot of money and resources in their communities. I am glad that I discovered Dr. Khademian and connected with her story. Its always a good reminder that no matter where you came or started from, you can accomplish amazing things, not only in athletics, but academics or wherever your gifts lie. After completing her bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration at MSU, Dr. Khademian went on to get her Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis in political science. Her other accomplishments include authoring a few books and many research articles, becoming a professor and director at numerous academic institutions, serving on several journals editing boards, and serving on Board of directors for National Academy of Public Administration.

Dr. Khademain has inspired me not only through her passion for running and high athletic achievements, but also through her professional career as well. I am planning to go to graduate school to get my Ph.D. sometime in the near future. It is comforting and inspiring that someone who came from the same small town that I did has left such an impact on this university and the world."

It's a good reminder that no matter where you came or started from,

you can accomplish amazing things, not only in athletics,

but academics or wherever your gifts lie.


Araceli Alvarez, '20 "Erica Fiasky truly exemplifies what being a Spartan means. She is a first generation alumna of Michigan State University (MSU). Erica comes from humble beginnings, full of hardships, and responsibilities. She became pregnant when she was just 16 years of age, and without a doubt motherhood changed her life completely. Though she was determined to have a better life for herself and her son, Amadeo. Erica’s resiliency and dedication to her dreams and goals motivated her to further her education. Her last two years of high school she decided to enlist in the Michigan Army National Guard at the age of 17; in order to achieve her dreams and provide for her son financially. She continued her education at MSU by perusing a Bachelor in Landscape Architecture in 2007 and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning in 2009. Currently, Erica serves as the advising Director for South neighborhood engagement center at MSU, and is currently working towards a doctoral degree in Higher Adult and Life Long Education. Her determination to not be a statistic made her break through all the encountered barriers in her journey.

Erica, is involved in many organizations on campus including, Mujer a Mujer; which is an organization whose mission is to empower women academically and professionally. Erica, along with two other inspirational women co-lead the organization where many women come together to create a safe space to talk about the struggles of women at MSU. Along with creating workshops to help women succeed in all aspects of life. Her hard work and dedication has been noticed by many, as she has been awarded numerous awards, including the honor of having a scholarship named after her.

Erica has impacted the lives of many Spartans, including myself. Long before I found myself in the journey of motherhood I looked up to her for many reasons. Now, more than ever I identify myself with her. Erica overcame many obstacles to get where she is today. This truly inspires me as I have already encountered obstacles that have jeopardize my education, but like Erica, my passion for what I love and my determination to make a career for my daughter and I has gotten me through those hard times. She did not give up and every day she continues to work hard for her goals. I believe everything I got, I have earned. Everything I am about to get, I deserve. Being a role model for my daughter is something I aspire to be and I hope one day she will look at me the same way I look at soon to be Dr. Fiasky."

Erica's resiliency and dedication to her dreams and goals

motivated her to further her education.



Spartans continue to inspire their peers, the community and their industries. Thank you to all the Spartans who shared their incredible stories with us!

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