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@MSU Newsletter | March 2018


Loss of innocence. Renewal of Resolve.

Over the past weeks, I have communicated with hundreds of Michigan State University alumni in every corner of the world.

Out of those conversations, two common themes have emerged: A loss of innocence and a renewal of resolve. We found it hard to believe that something like the Nassar tragedy could happen here. But it has. It has become part of our history and we must own that. The most important question now is, “What will Spartans do?”

We will forever hold the survivors, all survivors of sexual assault and relationship violence, in our hearts. We will look inward and do what we need to do to get our own houses in order, to make this a safer, more vigilant, more compassionate world.

We will champion awareness, support, research and action. Inspired by the courage of brave women, we will focus our power in the direction of a profound, meaningful, lasting metamorphosis. We will transfigure anger into endeavor, realizing that redemption can emerge from the deepest sorrow and our setbacks can show us the way to extraordinary accomplishment. We will reclaim our inheritance and resolve, here and now, to personally contribute to the outcomes we expect.

These things will take time. The “what” and the “how” will continue to evolve. But we will never, ever forget the “why.” Through steadfast commitment and tenacious effort, Spartans Will again shine brightly; a beacon of hope in a world that sorely needs us.

-Scott Westerman, Executive Director of the MSU Alumni Association 

Suzy Merchant empowHERs the next generation

How do you encourage girls to tap into their strengths, celebrate their differences, and make positive changes in their communities?
For Suzy Merchant, it's about mentorship and inspiration.
In 2016, the Spartan women's basketball coach teamed up with the Eli Broad College of Business to launch a weekend leadership conference for young girls. The EmpowHER Retreat is now in its third year of inspiring confidence, resiliency, and community among 4th-9th-grade girls from the region. The weekend includes workshops, mentorship, and community service projects.
This year’s conference takes place at the Breslin Center from April 27-28. Sign up to be a volunteer or mentor here.

Spartans Will serve. Will you?

To harness the power of MSU's proud tradition of service, the annual MSU Global Day of Service brings together Spartan alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends around the world to work in their local communities.
Considering recent events involving Michigan State University, many MSU alumni have requested that some of the projects alumni clubs put forward for this year’s annual service day, scheduled on April 21, focus on assisting sexual assault prevention organizations and services. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, many feel their volunteerism would help in mobilizing and putting a focus on assisting hundreds of Spartans across the country in support of survivors of sexual assault.
We hope the day is a catalyst for new service commitments throughout the year. It is just one of a number of service opportunities offered by the MSU Alumni Association and Michigan State University.
Sign up to volunteer on March 19, and then join us on April 21 to make a difference in your community. 

Downward dog with MSU goats

Yes, you read that right. 
Just outside the Motor City, there’s an urban farm setting a new trend in yoga. 
At Pingree Farms, you can lay your mat out on a straw-covered barn floor and share your practice with goats. While you strike your strongest warrior pose, the goats roam around. They've been known to nibble on yogis’ ears and snuggle up to you for support with difficult poses. 
The urban farm is a nonprofit that cares for livestock and is part of a Michigan State University 4-H program. Attend goat yoga and help support initiatives to strengthen Detroit neighborhoods through education, volunteerism, partnerships, leadership, and agriculture. 
Oh, and don’t forget to take home a pair of wool socks from your new furry friends. 

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket

In case you missed it, a meteorite fell over Michigan on January 16. A few days later, Deborah Grischke and her mother went out meteorite hunting on the shores of Bass Lake in Hamburg Township.

After hours of hauling a heavy metal detector and digging with plastic shovels, the two were ready to give up. But then Deborah looked down and saw her own little piece of the meteorite.  

"I was immediately overwhelmed both spiritually and emotionally," she wrote in a personal reflection on the experience. "Realizing how old this specimen was and from where it came, I made an instant connection and saw the heart as a message from the universe...a message of universal love." 

The meteorite was verified by astronomists at the Cranbrook Institute of Science and MSU. 

Deborah is so excited to share her discovery, she is graciously loaning her meteorite to the Abrams Planetarium, a gift to the school she loves. She graduated from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 1988, and her children are also Spartans.

You will be able to see her meteorite, and others like it, in a special exhibit on Michigan meteorites, to open in July 2019. 

First black rodeo queen makes MSU history

Khalilah Smith made MSU history.

The sophomore, studying in the College of Veterinary Medicine, is the first African-American to be named Miss Michigan State University Rodeo Queen.

Khalilah hails from Detroit and turned to horses after a childhood ADHD diagnosis made it difficult to focus in school. Her mom took on an extra job to help pay for her lessons at a nearby stable. The sacrifice paid off. Horses made a tremendous impact on Khalilah's personal and academic growth. 

While she often gets strange looks wearing cowboy boots and walking her horses down city streets, Khalilah said in a recent Lansing State Journal article that she is proud to "write another chapter in the book of black history." 

She's all about breaking through stereotypes. Read more about her inspiring story here.