Skip navigation

@MSU Newsletter | November 2018


A WWII Spartan aviator finally makes it home

This November, join your fellow Spartans in honoring the service and sacrifice of our nation’s veterans. In particular, remember 2nd Lt. Elwood Ray Bailey, USMCR. He set an example of Spartans Will long before it was our slogan.

Bailey attended the then-Michigan State College from 1938 to 1940. After receiving air flight training as a student, he enlisted in 1941, shipping out as a U.S. Marine Corps aviator. 

In August of 1942, Bailey and four other American pilots intercepted six enemy Japanese fighters as they attacked Henderson Field, a strategic air base in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. One of his fellow pilots was shot down and Bailey’s F-4 Wildcat was badly hit.

It was last seen breaking away from the formation with the intent to return to base.

Bailey's aircraft didn't make it. He was listed as missing in action and was declared dead just days after what would have been his 22nd birthday.

In April of 2015, a Solomon Islander discovered a wrecked Wildcat along with human remains in the foothills of Mount Austen, southwest of Mbarana Village. The remains were turned over to the US. Tests confirmed it was Bailey.

Last month, his remains were returned to Parma, his hometown. He was laid to rest with full military honors in Chapel Cemetery, next to his parents. The memorial was arranged by his nephew, Wayne Tompkins Jr.

We thank all our military men and women for their sacrifices to keep our nation free. And we honor students preparing for their selfless duties through the MSU ROTC training program.

Semper Fi, Lt. Bailey.

The future is female and a Spartan alumna is helping design it

Rebecca DeKuiper, ’05, is living a childhood dream. As a project designer for the American Girl company, she gets to take the reins on the American Girl’s "Girl of the Year," a doll with a unique character, skill set, and backstory. She works with her team to come up with the character, fine tune the details to perfection, and be on the frontlines of girls’ empowerment.

The 2018 doll Luciana Vega, is an aspiring astronaut and the first American Girl doll to be immersed in STEM. To make Luciana realistic and true-to-life, Rebecca traveled to the Johnson Space Center in Houston to meet with astronauts and space-suit engineers.

Rebecca is not only helping to shape the next generation of female leaders, but is proof that—despite what parents may think—you can get a job with an art degree. Research for other dolls has taken her to places she might not otherwise venture to, from the Bluebird Café in Nashville, Tenn., to a llama farm in Wisconsin.

Read more about DeKuiper’s story by the College of Arts and Letters, and how she credits MSU’s study abroad program for helping her land her dream gig.

Finding inspiration through pain

Trombone player and composer, Peter Nelson, '12, jumped into the New York music scene five years ago. It paid off. The Lansing native played gigs alongside his idols.

Then what was faint pain and subtle anxiety manifested into a mysterious five-year health battle with hyperventilation, severe shortness of breath, and excruciating pain in the face, back, and arms.

Fortunately he eventually found psychologist and fellow trombonist Jan Kagarice, one of the world’s leading authorities on musicians’ health. She diagnosed him with focal dystonia, or chronic hyperventilation while playing his instrument. 

Fast forward to today. Nelson has recovered and recently released an album, Ash, Dust, and the Chalkboard Cinema. Learn more about the musician's journey. Give his music a listen on YouTube and Spotify.

Honoring a Spartan Legend

Don’t miss the newest book hot off the MSU Press. Duffy Daugherty: A Man Ahead of His Time, tells the story of the legendary Hall of Fame football coach who led the Spartans to two national championships. A true Spartan trailblazer, Daugherty recruited 59 black players to play football at MSU during a time when they couldn’t play for the powerhouse Southern teams like Alabama.

This new book about Daugherty’s life is full of empowering, warm-and-fuzzy-feeling stories. Stories that remind us that even today, it’s about so much more than just football. It’s about unwavering courage in the face of some of life’s toughest obstacles.

Find the book here!