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Director's Message

  • Author:
    Scott Westerman
  • Published:
    Fall 2012

The Six Degrees of Spartan Nation

Craig Pearson is one of the many MSU students who got a first-hand feel for the power of the Spartan Nation this summer.

Each year Michigan State sends more kids on study abroad experiences than any other institution. Writing in a column for the State News, Craig, a molecular biology major in Lyman Briggs College and a member of the Honors College, says, “Spartans appear to be taking over the world. In my two months abroad so far, I have not only been inundated with countless Facebook photo albums and blog posts connecting me with friends everywhere from Spain to Azerbaijan, but I have also crossed paths with many MSU students and alumni.”

I bet you’re not surprised. In the last week alone, I’ve received email from students who met Spartans at the London Olympics, alumni who discovered a shrine to MSU Basketball in a small restaurant in Greece and a new faculty member who was stunned by the reception he gets whenever he wears our logo merchandise.

If there’s one thing I have learned in nearly three years as your MSUAA head servant it’s that Spartans are everywhere. But that’s only part of the story. MSU alumni are enriching one another’s lives in every corner of the globe.

One of MSU’s Goldwater Scholars studying in England, Craig recounts his experience: “Around the time of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, I went to London and had coffee with a group of MSU friends who were on a German language program in Mayen, Germany. For my research project in a materials science lab at the University of Cambridge, I worked alongside two doctoral students who were both recent graduates of MSU. Last weekend, I went to Paris and wrote fiction in cafés with a fellow MSU English student, and later had crepes and visited the Eiffel Tower with two fellow MSU biochemistry majors. While I was hanging around outside the Notre Dame Cathedral, an American couple asked me to take a photograph for them, and despite the fact that none of us were wearing Spartan garb, I discovered not only that I was in the presence of an active MSU alumnus, but also that he had grown up a block away from the high school I attended in Detroit.”

I believe the essence of the Spartan life is, as Craig Pearson contends, that, “You’re instantly the closest of friends, connected by something that needs no explanation.” Th is is what being a Spartan is all about.

When you read this, the MSUAA will have launched a new initiative we call “Th e Spartan Pipeline.” It’s a system that allows alumni to let us know where their careers are taking them and will instantly sync them up with a Spartan in that town who can help them get settled and connected to the MSU family there.

We will have significantly improved the system we use to help you update your personal information in our most popular application: the MSUAA online directory. Th e enhanced functionality will also give alumni the opportunity to selectively share that information to make finding your favorite Spartans a quick and easy exercise.

The MSU Alumni Association is a family in every sense of the word. Like most families, there are times when we may disagree about something. But like the best families, we share a common ethic. We model that ethic for others to emulate. And we celebrate and support the institution that brought us together in the first place.

“I know now,” Craig concludes, “that I—or any of us, regardless of age, major, background or profession—can travel to just about anywhere on the planet and have an instant connection or two. Or a few hundred thousand. And that, my fellow Spartans, is as good a reason as any to plant that big green S flag in the ground and say, ‘Th is is Sparta.’”

Scott Westerman, III, ’78
Executive Director, MSU Alumni Association