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Reflections
Craig Pearson

Craig Pearson

The most unique feature of Michigan State University is the attitude. I had a lot of opportunities to pursue my undergraduate education at other institutions, but what made me decide to come to MSU was the positive, open-minded, achievement-oriented attitude shared by the people here. The faculty, staff, and students at Michigan State want to collaborate and work toward common goals. And they have fun doing it.

I’ve had the opportunity to pursue something of a double life throughout my undergraduate education. I’ve been able to immerse myself in both the natural sciences and the humanities, and the interplay between those fields has allowed me to engage in a lot of exciting research as well as meet many fantastic people.

My primary interest is in vision. I want to expand our understanding of the human visual system and develop new treatments for blindness and visual diseases. Since my freshman year, I have worked as an undergraduate research assistant with a team that is designing a drug-delivery system to treat an early-onset genetic blindness disorder. In graduate school, I will be researching ways to regenerate neurons in the optic nerve.

My background in the humanities has provided a crucial context for my research on blindness. Studying literature expands one’s worldview and encourages both critical thinking and a broader sense of empathy. For me, these influences came together when I founded Exceptions, an online creative arts journal that publishes work by students with visual disabilities.

Through our published content and several interviews I conducted with blind writers and artists, I came to see how our attitudes about “fixing” blindness often overlook the ways in which disability informs people’s perspectives and life experiences. Some individuals with atypical vision call their blindness a “gift.” Being able to provide a platform for these creative voices has been immensely gratifying, and it keeps me grounded as I move forward with my career in medical research.

Beyond the opportunities I’ve had, I value most the personal relationships I’ve built in my time at MSU. I have had phenomenal mentors throughout my undergraduate career. These individuals have been guides in terms of teaching me how to conduct research and ask intelligent questions. They have also become friends whose mentorship extends beyond the professional realm. Everyone I’ve interacted with at this university—from my mentors to faculty and staff to fellow students—has embodied the core traits of the Spartans, which, to me, are openness and a positive attitude. As we say: Spartans Will.

Being part of the President’s Report has been a blast. It has been wonderful to open up the window to my Spartan experience and share all of these things that excite and engage me. I hope that getting a glimpse of the multifaceted experience I’ve had as an undergraduate at MSU makes some difference in the eyes of those who view it, regardless of who they are or where they come from.