Tag Archives: Michigan State University

Giving Back: Michigan State Edition

Beaumont Tower MSU.png

Ever since I left MSU’s beautiful campus a few days after my graduation on April 30th, 2004, I’ve longed to give back to my fellow Spartans.  My years at Michigan State were among the best of my life, and that is due to the wonderful opportunities I had as an undergrad.  Not only did I heavily participate in study abroad and alternative spring break programs, I later worked as a peer advisor in the Office of Study Abroad, now Office of Education Abroad.

Through the umbrella Multicultural Business Programs (MBP) organization, I became an active member of Multicultural Business Students (MBS), eventually serving as publicity chair on the executive board, and the Women in Business Association.  In fact, my connections to MBP goes back even further to the summer after my junior year of high school.  That summer, I attended the Broad Business Student Camp (BBSC) (created and run by MBP), and I fell in love.  I fell in love with Michigan State’s campus and what I envisioned my college life could be.

BBSC wasn’t the only factor in my decision to attend MSU, but it left a powerful impression.  A few years later, I served as a camp counselor for BBSC thanks to arrangements made with my employer at the time, IBM.  When I arrived on campus in August 1999, eagerly pushing my parents’ out the door, I already had a home on one of the largest college campuses in the United States: MBP.  This is just a snippet of some of the opportunities I took advantage of while at MSU.  It is now time to give back.

Even though I wanted to give back, I am not in a position to give monetarily at the moment, nor do I think that would be the best way to do so.  Fortunately, I happened to stumble across a couple of great opportunities.

The Alumni Wisdom Project

Article Describing Eli Broad College of Business Alumni Wisdom Project – By Lindsey Andrews

In fall 2017, as an alum of the Eli Broad College of Business, I received an email outlining the Alumni Wisdom Project.  In short, the project, a component of a communications course on campus, pairs current MSU business students with Broad alumni.  It is meant to be a one-time face-to-face or Skype informational interview focusing on career and experiences at MSU.  Students then complete the assignment for class and share what they have written with alumni.  I loved my first experience, so I signed up for another.  It is exactly the type of experience I was looking for that would allow me to somehow give back to current MSU students.

Spartans Helping Spartans

I only learned of Spartans Helping Spartans a few months ago when I responded to David Isbell’s LinkedIn comment asking if there were MSU alums who were interested in reconnecting with the university.  Dave Isbell works in alumni relations at MSU.  I met him online several years ago when I first moved back to Michigan.

After my initial interest in reconnecting with MSU, Dave and I spoke on the phone.  He described the idea behind his website Spartans Helping Spartans – alumni sharing their experiences with current MSU students in an informal podcast format.  I was hooked.  In our conversation, he told me that he remembered a little about my background, and I filled him in on what I am currently doing.  Next thing I know, he interviewed me for the podcast and my first podcast was born.  Check it out below.

Lindsey Russell – Educator.  Entrepreneur.  Aspiring Writer.

There is much more to come.  I am currently writing a series of blog posts highlighting study abroad for Spartans Helping Spartans.  I will share them once they are on the website.  In addition, I have had such positive feedback from this podcast, I am toying with the idea of creating a podcast myself.  Stay tuned.  All because I said yes.

MSU Botanical Garden.jpg

Beal Botanical Garden – Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

MSU Spartan Girl

Memories: The Impact 89 FM @ 30


I may have only ever broadcast on The Fix, but my short stint as a DJ during my senior year at Michigan State left a lasting impression.  My only regret:  I didn’t get involved earlier (as in as soon as I hit MSU’s campus as a freshman).  I came across this video created for The Impact’s 30th anniversary, and it brought back all kinds of wonderful memories.

The Fix is the online training radio station for The Impact 89 FM:  MSU’s student radio station.

As soon as I watched the video, I thought of how much fun I had playing Modest Mouse, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Strokes, My Chemical Romance, the White Stripes – among so many others.  I thought of all the late nights and early mornings I put in just for pure fun.  Count me among the many misfits that just loved music.  They give us a shout out in the video.  How did I forget how much I love alternative?  This list sums up some of my favorites from high school and college.

 

MSU and Memories

Alumni Bricks

Dear D., Continued – Revisited

Dear D. – Revisited

I’ve struggled for nearly two months to write this post.  It is time.  Back in mid-June, I spent the afternoon in East Lansing with my friend Lauri.  While it was not our only intent, we sought the memorial brick my cousin Lugene’s family placed on campus in her memory.  If it weren’t for Lugene, Lauri and I probably would have never met.  Spending time with Lauri searching for Lugene’s memorial brick seemed fitting.  After all, as dedicated genealogists, Lauri and Lugene spent countless days researching in Michigan cemeteries.  Here we were searching for Lugene.

When we did finally locate her memorial brick, it completely caught me off-guard.  It is located near the gardens where I found myself on a first date with a guy I dated briefly while at MSU – a very fun first date.  I had completely forgotten.  While MSU is far too big for me to legitimately say that I have a memory in every part of campus, I certainly have my share.  They all seemed to come flooding back to the point where I couldn’t keep up.

What it comes down to is this:  I need to visit my alma mater more often.  I avoided MSU after my friend Derrick died back in 2009, and Lugene’s death made it even worse.  Lugene took pride in her MSU alum status, and it was a part of her personality.  As much fun as I had visiting, I also felt out of sorts.  I hope one day I will be able to visit without feeling such a sense of loss.

I’ve finally concluded that it isn’t just the loss of Derrick and Lugene that I was feeling that day.  I also mourned the loss of the college girl I once was.  While I wouldn’t quite say that I was fearless as a freshman, I came close.  I thought nothing of pursuing whatever my heart desired while at MSU.  What happened?  Maybe I can find her once again.

The links above lead to posts I wrote concerning Derrick.

Derrick and I – April 2000

cropped-puebla

The girl I once was – 2002

Dear D., Continued – Revisited

Here is another.

It was unbearable.  The whole thing.  Every second worse  than the last.  I just kept thinking about calling him, wondering what would happen, if anyone would answer.  In the last weeks, we’d been reduced to spending our time together in recollection, but that was not nothing.  The pleasure of remembering had been taken away from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with.  It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.

The Fault In Our Stars – By John Green (Page 262)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Photo credit: theunquietlibrary)

Dear  D.,

I’ve been meaning to write you all this past week for the obvious reason:  August 15 would’ve been your 31st birthday.  It pisses me off I can’t directly tease you about becoming a dirty old man despite the fact I am older than you.  I still feel cheated out of years of memories of us.  I suppose I had such a clear vision of us still arguing over memories in our 70s and 80s, just like your Great Aunts E. and G. and my Grandma, I still can’t quite believe it just wasn’t meant to be.

The passage above describes well what I feel nearly three years after you passed away.  I’m afraid those quirky memories we made in childhood, high school, and then college will die if I happen to forget.  I just don’t want that to happen.  I don’t want to forget.  I’m glad I read The Fault In Our Stars by John Green before I tried to write anything.  Now this letter has a purpose.

That is what is so aggravating.  Every time I think of you, what I want to say to you, or memories of us, it just seems to go nowhere.  Without you here, who is left to really care, besides me?  No one.  Once I come to that conclusion for the hundredth time, I realize how futile writing a letter to you is.  And yet, I can’t help it.  I have to do something.  There were way too many things left unsaid.

By the way, don’t get the impression that I’m the only one who remembers you.  I can only imagine the hole left in your family.  Just the other day I came across a post Carla posted on your Facebook wall.  I know she misses you just as much as I do, as does Jelly.  Some time ago I saw Jelly when I ordered something at Tony’s, and we just didn’t even know what to say to each other.  It was the first time I saw her since you passed away.  We talked about anything and everything else, but that doesn’t mean you weren’t first and foremost on our minds.

So here it goes.  Here are a few memories of us:

High School –

Freshman Year.  You ended up getting hours of detention for picking on me in Freshman English.  It became so bad Miss V. quipped that you and I would probably end up married someday, we were that practiced at nagging each other.  Every time I think of FriendsRomeo and Juliet, or Great Expectations, I think of Freshman English and you.  I can almost feel you tapping me on the shoulder and hear you make some smartass remark about people trying to look like Courtney Cox.  By the way, I know you knew you had it all wrong.  The haircut was called the Rachel for a reason.  You just liked to play dumb to get attention.  I still find it amusing that you ended up with detention and I didn’t.

Prom.  I will never forget you on Prom Night, senior year.  You ended up taking my cousin K. (Rusty) as your date, and she became Prom Queen.  I’d never seen you so incredibly happy.  You had to tell everyone that you were the date of the Prom Queen and were genuinely happy for her.  I know it is stupid, and I never admitted this, but until I saw you that happy, I was envious of K.  If you’d asked me to the prom, I doubt I would’ve said yes.  But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t imagine it.  It could’ve made up for years of us being ostracized by our class.  We could’ve spent all night making snide remarks, joking around, and just proving everyone wrong.  In the end, I don’t think either one of us had the guts.

Kayaking and Guy.  I’ll never forget your Aunt L. and Guy visiting from Texas one summer.  Somehow I was pressured into taking Guy kayaking.  I don’t think I ever paddled so fast in my entire life.  The entire trip was strange.  I just felt like I had to show him up, he was that cocky.  You were very right about him.  I can understand why you two weren’t exactly friends.  I’m trying in vain to remember whether or not you went with us.  Maybe you just came to the Livery and didn’t go kayaking?  It doesn’t matter.  We did talk about Guy and came to the conclusion that he was a little too wrapped up in Friday Night Lights.

State.  I distinctly remember the day we received our housing assignments for our first year at Michigan State.  My jaw dropped when I realized not only were we going to attend the same university, we were assigned to the same dorm complex, Snyder-Phillips.  Quite frankly, I wasn’t happy.  I just wanted to start fresh as MSU, and there you would be, a reminder of school years I would rather forget.  In the end, I’m so grateful for that simple twist of fate.  Quite simply, college would not have been the same without you.

Michigan State –

A National Championship and the Flintstones.  I love the fact that we somehow found each other among throngs of people in Cedar Village after MSU won the 2000 National Championship.  I think about that April night a lot.  How could I not?  That picture of us outside Cedar Village – you smoking a cigar and your arm around me, me smiling like my life depended on it – is among my favorites.

2nd Floor, Snyder Hall.  You used to love hanging out on my floor in Snyder Hall.  I’ll never forget the crazy 3 AM political conversations we had, Kim included.  I just can’t wait until we have the first female President of the United States.  I’ll smile, think about how you just lost a bet, and carry on, thinking about how very wrong you were the entire time.  Sexism doesn’t pay.

Where were you?  I’ll never forget getting a call from your Mom freshman year at State.  She couldn’t get a hold of you and simply wanted to know if I knew where you were.  I didn’t at that moment, and the entire thing broke my heart.  I wish I could’ve helped her – and you.

Capstone.  We’d lost track of each other during those years I studied abroad.  Nevertheless, you found your way back into my life.  You just wanted me to look over your résumé and rekindle our friendship.  It worked.  You once again became a fixture in my life.

Crunchy’s and a Broken Heart.  D, I have no idea what your true feelings for me were, but you must have truly cared for me on some level, whether you wanted to acknowledge it or not.  During the spring of 2004, as my life was endlessly shifting under me before I could even regain my footing, you somehow knew how heartbroken hearted I was.  You knew that I simply needed a night out with an old friend who understood just how upset I was.  I wanted that job in Austin desperately, not to mention the mess that was my personal life at that point.  Many things happened that evening, of course , and even the next day.  I’m not going to talk about them here, but I need to say this:  Thank you!  You knew just what I needed, even if I didn’t.

Brian.  That same spring, 2004, I began my relationship with an old friend, Brian.  Your teasing still makes me laugh.  Some of it was so spot on, especially those jokes about how I could never have any fun while living in Arenac County.  You basically stated that any night of debauchery in Arenac County would become common knowledge before I even made my way home.  So very true.  I got the sense that you were happy that I finally had a man in my life, my first true romantic relationship.  Those were some wonderful days for Brian and I, and I think you could sense just how happy I was at that moment.  If only I could live in those moments forever.

Aftermath.

A phone call or two.  It still upsets me that we weren’t closer in those first few years after I graduated from Michigan State.  I thought we would have time.  Unfortunately that is what we didn’t have.  There were several times I wanted to call you up and just lay everything on the line.  I wanted to know what your feelings for me were.  That was one thing I could never figure out.  I wanted to know why you had so many issues with your Mom and brother, especially your Mom.  I wanted to know what was really going on with you.  Unfortunately we never had those conversations.  I didn’t realize just how wrong things were until you were gone.  It was too late.

Great Auntie G.’s Funeral.  Of all my memories of you, your Great Aunt G.’s funeral stands out.  It was the last time I ever saw you.  It started immediately.  We just gravitated toward one another.  I suppose that’s no surprise as we were the only people under 50 in the room.  Then, of course, my Grandma asked us to go get her a package of hearing aid batteries.  We may have been at a funeral, but it sure didn’t take us long to start laughing our butts off once we were out the door.  You either laugh or cry, right?  You have to admit:  It was the perfect excuse for us to catch up.  After picking up the hearing aid batteries, you and I just drove around  and reminisced.  We covered a lot of ground from Standish to Omer.  I’m so glad we had that opportunity.  In a way, it was almost as if you were saying goodbye.  The last time I saw you, you and your Dad were leaving the funeral home and walking toward the Granton.  It angered me at the time, but I suppose everyone deals with death in their own way.  I just never figured out how to deal with yours.

You have no way of knowing this, of course, but I never made it to your funeral.  I ended up having to work.  I suppose it is just as well as I would’ve been an absolute wreck.  A few weeks after your funeral, I tried to find your grave.  There were things left unsaid (most of which I am writing here today) and I wanted to get it all off my chest.  There is so much in our hometown and in East Lansing that will always remind me of you.

And yet, there is one thing that still bugs me.  What was our relationship?  Whatever it was between us was much deeper than simple friendship, and yet we never had a romantic relationship, not even close.  The closest thing I can come up with is that we were family without actually being related.  We knew how to get on each other’s nerves, we knew how to make each other laugh and cry, and above all, I think we both cared.  Was it really as simple as that?  I like to think so.  I love you and miss you.

Linds

PS – Oh, and one last thing.  Your Mom.  I never told you this, but your Mom happened to be my Grandpa’s favorite nurse.  I know that you didn’t have a good relationship with her and it never was any of my business, but I am grateful to her.  She took great care of my Grandpa when he was dying.  I wish I could simply tell her thank you.  I wish I could talk to her about you.

Dear D. | Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde

Snyder-Phillips Hall was built in 1947. The bu...

Snyder-Phillips Hall was built in 1947. The building was recently expanded to make room for a new residential college. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear D. – Revisited

Sometimes writing is so timeless that it needs to be shared again.  Recent events have brought back a flood of memories, and I thought that I would share some of my favorite old blog posts.  You can find the original here.

D

Dear D. –

After all these years I still miss you horribly.  I just got a new cell phone the other day, and I realized I couldn’t bring myself to delete your number, your e-mail, nothing.  It will always be there.  There are so many times I’ve wanted to just pick up the phone to talk to you for a minute or two.  Like my little brother, you could always manage to put a smile on my face.  You’d laugh your butt off at the hot mess I’ve gotten myself into, as usual.  And yes, Diet Coke still runs through my veins.

I will never forget you and always love you.

Linds.

PS – I haven’t been able to bring myself to go to East Lansing over the last few years.  So many memories!  You were always there when I needed you most.

What Remains

Dad and Grandma Reid – Alaska 1988

It is no secret that I am a stubborn person.  For those that know my family, I clearly inherited that trait from my dad.  Frankly, I am proud of that fact – and it goes deeper into my family history.  My paternal grandmother, Grandma Reid, was every bit as stubborn as her son.  I have no idea if my dad’s father was stubborn or not – sadly, he passed away long before I could meet him – but I am certain Dad inherited at least some of his stubborn nature from his mother.

After my senior year of high school, I spent the summer working with Dad and Grandma at the canoe livery, just as I had all throughout high school.  That summer, however, continues to stand out.  I normally didn’t argue or disagree with Dad.  I had learned to trust his judgement and accepted that he had reasons for the way he did things over the years.  That summer, I bristled.  I no longer wanted Dad to tell me what to do, even if he was my boss.  I couldn’t get to Michigan State fast enough.  To complicate matters, Grandma wouldn’t budge, set in her ways over the decades.  She didn’t always agree with me or Dad.  In fact, Dad and I had to make her get out of the office and enjoy herself.  That is how much she loved to work.

By August, things came to a head.  The three of us were not listening to one another, and we all thought we were right.  All these years later, I couldn’t even tell you what our disagreements were about.  Really, all that mattered is we loved one another, even if we were getting on each other’s last nerve.  Of course, things vastly improved once summer came to an end and I set off for new adventures at MSU.

While I consider myself close to Mom and her family, our stubborn natures somehow brought Dad, Grandma, and I together.  For me, it goes beyond stubbornness.  It is a drive to succeed.  It is a drive to lead a full life no matter what is thrown our way.  It is survival.

#MeToo

Over the last week, I’ve loosely followed the Nassar case.  While I couldn’t stomach listening to the testimony of his victims, clearly several institutions and people in positions of power (I would not call them leaders by any stretch of the imagination) failed dozens of women and girls.  Sadly, that includes Michigan State University.  The resignation of MSU’s president and athletic director is a start, but it certainly isn’t enough.  Hopefully MSU will have a largely new board of trustees after November.

What angers me more than anything is the attitude of disbelief that seems to surround allegations of sexual assault victims (up to and including rape), particularly when there is an imbalance of power between victim and alleged perpetrator.  This seems to get to the heart of the issue in the Nassar case.  At one time he was a respected physician, how could these allegations possibly be true?

If anyone thinks that this is an issue confined to MSU, USA gymnastics, or college sports in general, think again.  As far as I am concerned, what happened at MSU could have happened on any college campus on any given day.  That is where the real change needs to happen.  Unfortunately, we live in a society that continues to look the other way when it comes to sexual assault, sends severely mixed messages to young men and women about sex, and all too often blames the victim.  That is where the #MeToo movement comes in.  I do hope it encourages victims of sexual assault to come forward.

If anything positive comes out of the #MeToo movement, it will be an increased awareness that sexual assault is more common than most people would like to believe.  There is a widely quoted statistic that one out of four college women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime (you can find more information at oneinfourusa.org).  A couple of years ago, a male professor at Saginaw Valley State University asked our class – a class of future secondary social studies teachers – if we felt that the statistic was accurate.  Every single woman raised her hand.  The reason our professor asked is because he didn’t believe the statistics and felt that they had to be greatly exaggerated.  He didn’t say a word after almost every single person in the classroom raised his or her hand.

Sexual assault is a major issue that needs to be addressed in our society.  Nothing will change until those who covered it up and enabled the abuse are punished as well.  If nothing else, maybe MSU can be held up as an example on how not to handle sexual assault allegations.  I would have thought the same thing after what happened at Penn State though.  What will it take for our society to change?  There have been too many men and women whose lives have been ruined already.

There is so much more I could say here.  I’ve struggled all week with how to approach this topic.  I do hope that all Nassar’s victims eventually find healing.  Thank you to all of those who testified against him.  As a proud MSU alum, it has been difficult to watch those in a position of leadership at my beloved alma mater be so thoroughly tone deaf.  That must change.  Now.