This is why we do what we do

On November 2, 2015, in Spartanology, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman
Whatever abundance we may have enjoyed in our lives came about because someone else cared enough about us to invest in our potential.

Max O’Connor’s story brings that truth sharply into focus. Max had the desire and the brains to succeed in college and in life. Through no fault of his own, his circumstances put overwhelming obstacles in the way. Then, a group of Michigan State University alumni in St. Louis decided to invest in Max, and changed his life.

65% of the MSU student population receives some financial aid. Total student assistance administered by the university exceeds $600 million dollars annually. At the same time, the institution has held the line on expenses. From 2001-02 to 2012-13, MSU’s cost of attendance only went up $65 above inflation.

The skyrocketing cost of tuition is a direct result of systematic disinvestment by the State of Michigan.

Whether people like Max end up as engineers in the Michigan automotive industry or on public assistance, and perhaps in prison, depends on our willingness to invest in their education.

This is why the MSU Alumni Association eliminated membership dues, encouraging our alumni to invest in the university instead.

This is why dozens of MSU Alumni Clubs around the world help fund millions of dollars in scholarships every year.

This is why you should pick up your phone when the caller ID tells you that a student from our Green Line is calling to ask for you to participate in an annual giving program at Michigan State.

And this is why you should send a strong message to your legislator to stop further cuts to public education and to find the money to fix our roads somewhere else.

Once upon a time, the American Dream was rooted in the idea that every child deserved to have access to knowledge, to learn problem solving skills, to be exposed to the rich diversity of ethnicity and ideas that are a microcosm of the college experience, and to be inspired to leave our nation, and the world, in a better place than they found it.

Once upon a time, higher education was not just a birthright. It was the competitive advantage made us one of the greatest nations in the world. At Michigan State University, we’ve never lost sight of that America Dream. And thousands of us continue to invest our own time, talent and treasure to make it possible for more kids like Max O’Connor to become leaders, lifesavers and world changers.

Whatever good things you have experienced in your life happened because someone cared enough to invest in you. The ultimate return on that investment is to pay it forward.

This is the essence of a Spartans Will. Just ask Max O’Connor.

 

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