When applying to Michigan State, I wrote an essay comparing places to gardens. I explained that a truly great garden is full of different kinds of life, and that this diversity fosters and develops many other kinds of life. In much the same way, a diverse community fosters and develops many unique individuals. I wanted to attend Michigan State because I believed it was one of the most diverse “gardens” I could attend. Nearly four years later, I couldn’t agree with my past self more.
In my time at MSU, I have participated in the fencing club, undergraduate research, summer research, and also have met innumerable people through engineering and campus life. While these activities may not be unique to MSU, the experiences were. Before coming to MSU, I had never fenced in my life. By my sophomore year I was a team captain, and I was club president as a senior. The club gave me an opportunity to travel all across the Midwest and put various leadership opportunities under my belt. More importantly, the club introduced me to a whole culture where it is perfectly acceptable to talk about swords and play Pokémon as a senior in college, and I love it.
I have developed academically at Michigan State as well. The chemical engineering faculty makes a point to interact with students, and the curriculum is collaboration based. Group projects are a focus, and special attention is paid to developing teamwork skills. As a result of working with teams, I have grown close to my class of engineers, which is a culture quite different from the fencers. Just as video games and anime are a common topic among members of the fencing team, my engineering friends can often be heard talking about “math fun facts” or alternate homework solutions, often with professors. Grades fire up our competitive sides, and poor group work is intolerable. This shared core of ideals has caused a majority of us to grow close, forming a community quite different from the fencing community.
I also have gained a large body of knowledge from some of the leaders in chemical engineering technology. MSU prides itself on its research enterprises, and this manifests itself in two ways. First, faculty members at MSU are actively involved in leading-edge research and are often leaders in their field of study. Second, a small army of undergraduate research assistants are employed, with students actively participating in scientific research. I worked in two separate labs through my course at MSU and developed a taste for research. This has led me to pursue further studies in graduate school, a decision I am not sure I would have made at another university.
I wouldn’t want anyone to think my time at MSU has consisted of just club sports and academics. With almost 50,000 students, I was bound to meet a few other people. My closest friends on campus actually are not the fencers or engineers, but a group of boys I met living in the dorms. I have shared life events with them that, while not related to the university, still made a critical impact on how I have grown here. We have traveled to places I had never before seen, helped each other through breakups and family deaths, helped each other pass hard classes, and celebrated successes.
Finally, in my last year at MSU, I was given the chance to participate in this Inside Out President’s Report. While it gives others insight into what it means to be a Spartan, participating in the report has also provided me an opportunity to look back on my career at MSU. I have realized that MSU has helped me grow academically, socially, and personally. I am more confident. I am not afraid to be the smartest person in a group. I know I have many different groups of friends who support me.
What drew me to MSU more than anything was the diversity, both of people and opportunities. While the experiences I had at MSU were unique, so too was my ability to choose my experiences, and that diversity of choices is what it means to be a Spartan.