Tag Archives: MSU

Giving Back: Michigan State Edition

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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.

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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

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The girl I once was – 2002

#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.

Why I Am Glad I Am No Longer in My 20s

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Over the last few days I’ve struggled with precisely what I would like to say in this blogpost.  Recently I found out that one of my young cousins is not entirely happy at Michigan State.  In fact, she is considering transferring.  My heart breaks for her because I have been there.  She is considering leaving MSU because most of her friends are attending another university.  After thinking about it for half a second, I realized that I had once been in her shoes.  I remember all too well what it feels like to feel so alone among tens of thousands of students.  Unfortunately, I was so far along in my programs at MSU that transferring would have been extremely unrealistic.  Add to the fact that the people I wanted to be with most were in Austin, Texas, it was not a good situation.  I admit that I fought back tears as I left Austin.  Somehow, I made it through the last year and a half at MSU, even though it lead me to make the worst mistake of my life thus far:  my ex.

When I originally decided to leave Michigan State to complete an internship, a full year of study abroad through MSU, and then a six month co-op in Austin, Texas, I never once considered how it would affect my friendships.  I left MSU in May 2001 and didn’t return until January 2003.  When I returned, I was not prepared for how difficult it would be to readjust to campus life in East Lansing.  I wasn’t prepared for the deep loneliness that set in.  In making the decision to follow my dreams of beginning my career in supply chain management and completing two separate semester long study abroad programs, I lost most, if not all, of the friends I had made my first two years at Michigan State.  It also strained the few relationships I had maintained from high school.  In fact, one of my best high school friends married while I was in Spain.  She asked me to be in her wedding, and frankly, our relationship was never really the same once I was unable to do so.

All of the separate programs I participated in were wonderful, and each new experience brought a new set of friends.  Yet, it wasn’t until those last three months in Austin (September – December 2002) that I felt truly at home and truly happy.  Then it was time to go home and return to MSU.  I can finally admit to myself that I was deeply unhappy my last year and a half on campus.  As I admit that to myself, what would have been the solution?  I had to finish my degrees.  I can’t imagine how I would have had to upend my life if I had decided to permanently move to Austin and transfer to the University of Texas.  At the same time, my deep unhappiness lead me to a romantic relationship that was entirely wrong from the beginning.  There just wasn’t an easy answer.

It is for that reason that I wouldn’t want to give advice to anyone in a similar situation.  There are trade-offs for everything.  I can’t go back and change the past.  My education certainly isn’t wasted, even though I am not working in supply chain.  As much as it pains me that I lost so many friendships when I decided to pursue all that I did, I do not regret one single experience I had at Michigan State.  All of those experiences made me the person I am today.  To all of those 20-somethings facing these type of decisions, best of luck.

30s

 

The Real Reason Why You Should Travel

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Why Traveling to “Find Yourself” is the Worst Idea Ever – BlogHer

As a woman with several study abroad, alternative spring break, and traditional travel experiences behind me, I couldn’t agree with Olga Mecking more.  The title itself drew me in because, personally, I can’t think of a better way to learn about yourself.  I made the mistake of thinking “finding yourself” as synonymous with “learning about yourself.”  I could not have been more wrong.  As Mecking makes clear in her blogpost, she is talking about the impulse to shut oneself off from the world in an attempt to answer the big questions.  Why am I here?  What is my purpose in life?  Etc.

The thing is that by truly immersing yourself in another culture, it forces you to question everything you know about your own.  You naturally begin to question your assumptions and beliefs.  Also, whether study abroad or another form of travel, a change in scenery and a different culture make it easy to find yourself in situations that allow you to discover new interests, talents, etc.  Sometimes, you find yourself doing things you never dreamed you would do.

Lately I’ve given a lot of thought to my own experiences abroad.  Would I do it all over again, knowing what I know now?  You bet.  If I were a traditional college student today, would I study abroad?  Probably, although the circumstances are much different today than when I studied abroad 2000-2004.  I simply think I would ask more questions and have far more concern regarding my personal safety.  That is all probably due to my age and experience.  Of course there are things I did at 20 that I would never consider doing today.  Oh, by the way, just a little tip.  If you are planning on studying abroad in the future, do not watch the movie Hostel.  Just don’t do it.

I’ve also thought about how different study abroad would be today compared to my experiences through Michigan State.  First, it would be so much easier to pack when travelling city to city.  When I traveled all over Spain during my semester in Caceres, I always had to pack my journal, books, and portable CD player/CDs.  Today, a smartphone could easily take the place of the music and books.  Also, a small laptop or netbook could take the place of the journal.  Technology is just so much better.  Back in the early 2000s, people were just beginning to blog.  I didn’t have a blog until 2005.  Blogging would make it much easier to capture experiences, rather than just photos and journals, especially with the help of a smartphone.  I can only imagine what I would and could have created studying abroad with today’s technology.  Sadly, I remember getting actual film developed during my times in Spain and Ecuador.  Blogging allows for an immediacy that was not available to me at the time.

What advice would I give to an incoming class of college freshman?  Study abroad!  You will not regret it.  Ten years from now, you will regret it if you didn’t go.  If you are concerned about the cost, there are scholarships; there are ways to make it comparable to a semester on campus.  Also, be careful:  it is addictive.  During my time at MSU, I participated in five separate study abroad programs and alternative spring break – in Merida and Puebla Mexico – three times.  I spent a semester in Quito, Ecuador and a semester in Caceres, Spain.  I also spent a summer in London and completed two separate summer study abroad programs in Merida and Monterrey, Mexico.  When I finally came back to campus to finish my undergraduate degrees, I landed one of the best jobs I’ve ever held:  peer advisor in the office of study abroad.  As a student, I worked part-time helping other students plan their own study abroad adventures.  I consider all of it the best part of my education.  My education would not be the same without all of those experiences; I would not be the same without all of those experiences.

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