Even 32 years after their graduation, these four Spartans continue to bleed green and white. Spartan alumni can hold a special bond with one another. Some friendships made at Michigan State University last forever.
Lifelong friends Grace Wilcox, Karen Starr, Roseanne Reynolds and Beth Noble met during their freshman year at Michigan State. The four of them lived together in Akers hall for their first two years of school. Those small dorm rooms were where some of their best college memories were made, the four said. They have kept in touch ever since.
"Beth lived across the hall from me freshman year in East Akers, and Karen lived down the hall with Roseanne," Wilcox said.
Three of the women came from different cities across Michigan. Wilcox came from New York. None of them knew each other prior to their time at Michigan State.
When Wilcox, Starr, Roseanne and Noble were students, they were very involved on campus. The four played club volleyball together, spent a lot of time in the library and worked in the cafeteria, Wilcox said.
In addition to involvement on campus, they spent time visiting each other and their houses. This was a special memory for them.
"We did a lot of road tripping to each other's houses on the weekends," Wilcox said. "We would go to Beth's house and Karen's house and went all the way to New York to my house and made that one trip."
Following graduation, they have stayed in touch by taking girls' trips together, having group video calls, visiting one another through family get-togethers and more.
"We have gone back to Akers and the house we lived in on Stoddard Street," Starr said. "We try to have a yearly visit and travel somewhere together once a year."
What sets this group of friends apart from other Spartan alumni is their children. In the fall, three of them will have a child at Michigan State — one sophomore and two freshmen. While it is common for Spartans’ children to follow in their parents’ footsteps, it is rare for their children to go to school at the same time, let alone be friends with one another.
Noble said it is a full-circle moment for all three families.
"This can't have happened that often,” Noble said. “That 30 years later, three college friends all have kids who happen to be the same age at Michigan State. That is kind of a big coincidence.”
All three of the students have met one another and are looking forward to having familiar faces on campus in the fall.
"Having to go through my freshman year at home and not having the experience of making friends and creating my own community on campus like most freshman students, it helps to have familiar faces such as Grace and Karen's kids," Mya Reynolds, Rosanne's daughter, said in an email. "It alleviates some of that social anxiety many people experience when moving to a new place where you may not know anyone."
When Wilcox’s daughter visited MSU, she stayed with Starr and her family. She thinks that really helped her decide she wanted to go to MSU.
"My daughter Anne Marie wanted to go out of state," Wilcox said. "Last October she flew out to Michigan and Karen picked her up at the airport. … She spent a couple days with them and then they met my dad and toured the Michigan State campus.
“That trip really changed her mind, and I think a lot of it had to do with Karen and her son Nate. She had a good time … She is already planning her summers at Karen's house."
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Nate will be joining Anne Marie in the fall. Coincidentally, he will be living in the same dorm that the four women met in more than 30 years before.
"Nate's first choice was Michigan State, and my husband and I both went to Michigan State,” Starr said. “I have two older children, and we tried to encourage them to go to Michigan State, but they did not end up going, which was not my first choice, but it was Nate's. Nate worked really hard and he took a lot of the IB (International Baccalaureate) and college-level classes and is super excited."
Alongside both Anne Marie and Nate, Mya will be a food science sophomore at Michigan State in the fall. Although it will be her second year, it will be her first year on campus due to classes being remote and her not receiving the normal college experience.
Roseanne said it is nice for her daughter to have two familiar faces in East Lansing, as well.
"My daughter originally did not want to attend a big school," Roseanne said in an email. "She agreed to tour Michigan State so she was able to compare it with other campuses. She fell in love with it after she spent the day there. With that being said, she was accepted to three other schools, but Michigan State was her top choice! For obvious reasons, we were very happy with her decision."
"I definitely grew up as a Spartan," Mya said in an email. "Having not only a parent but also extended family members who all went to Michigan State, I really had no other choice but to be a Spartan fan, I was basically born into the fandom. Growing up as a Spartan did not affect my decision to commit to Michigan State.”
Mya said that when she started looking at colleges, MSU was not even on the list of schools she was interested in.
“When I first began looking at colleges, Michigan State was not even on the list of schools I possibly wanted to go to,” she said in an email. “I always had the idea in my head that it was too big of a campus and I would prefer to attend a smaller university. Once I began touring different college campuses, I did a complete 180 and decided that a bigger school was where I saw myself having that picture perfect college experience. As soon as I set foot on campus it felt like home and that's when Michigan State became my top school choice."
Starr, Wilcox, and Roseanne said they are thrilled for their children to be at Michigan State with one another in the fall and experience the magic of being a Spartan. Also, they said they are looking forward to reuniting in East Lansing with one another and their kids on game days and other occasions.
"I'm looking forward to sharing the experience of our kids going to MSU with the same group of friends that were there with me over 35 years ago," Roseanne said.
This article is part of our 2021 Summer Mail Home Issue. View the full digital issue here.
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