Tuesday, November 30, 2021

MSU Homecoming 2021: Introducing the Court and what to expect

October 1, 2021
<p>Sparty rides along during the MSU Homecoming Parade on Oct. 5, 2018 along Grand River Avenue.</p>

Sparty rides along during the MSU Homecoming Parade on Oct. 5, 2018 along Grand River Avenue.

Photo by CJ Weiss | The State News

Michigan State University's Homecoming, "Spartans Journey Together," begins on Sept. 27 and lasts until Oct. 2. This year's theme highlights the bond of the Spartan community in forging a brighter world.

Spartans will welcome Grand Marshal, Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee, a graduate of MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and the first African-American woman to serve as a dean of a U.S. medical school.

Ten seniors are selected from a highly competitive applicant group to represent MSU in the Homecoming Court. Those selected for the 2021-22 academic year include Dantevius Branigan, Alyssa Ewell, Eliot Haddad, Julie Liu, Simone Nagi, Madeline Niblock, Brenda Pilar-Ayala, Christine So, David Tran and Julian Trevino.

Alyssa Ewell is a psychology major from Canton, Michigan with minors in youth and society in the College of Social Science, communicative sciences and disorders in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, and cognitive science in the College of Arts and Letters.

Ewell serves as the National Communications Coordinator with the Residence Halls Association and has participated in a transformative Alternative Spartan Break at the Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association. There, she acted as a volunteer, supporting people with disabilities through animal therapy, according to the alumni website where the court was announced.

"Involvement in the Adaptive Sports program and Autism Research Lab connected me with Spartans that value inclusivity through accessibility," Ewell said. "Mentorship roles such as being a Resident Assistant and a TRIO Scholars Coach better connected me with campus resources and partners. This gave me the important role of being an advocate for the safety and wellbeing of other Spartans. Ultimately the connections with other student leaders led me to join RHA’s Leadership Team as the National Communications Coordinator."

In addition, being on the Homecoming Court gives Ewell the opportunity to share her Spartan Story. Ewell said, "Spartans Will" means showing up for those around her.

"Showing up can look like directing fellow Spartans to resources," Ewell said. "It can also be as simple as checking in on fellow students. It also means recognizing your personal resilience when navigating long days, unexpected turns and relying on your community to help you. I had my fair share of difficulty navigating MSU campus, dealing with a difficult roommate situation, choosing which organizations were truly a fit for me, and ultimately choosing a career path. Without supportive faculty members and students, I would not have felt engaged in my classes...Michigan State University contributed to my personal and academic growth in extraordinary ways and being on the court gives me a chance to show what it means to me."

Haddad is an Honors College student from Cornet Chehwan, Lebanon, majoring in human biology with a minor in environment & health and bioethics in the Lyman Briggs College. He is a pre-med student, looking to study medicine and then become a practicing physician later on.

"Dr. Bess German encouraged me to apply," Haddad said. "I owe a lot to her because she was really encouraging and told me, 'Hey, you should give it a shot' and 'You represent the best of MSU, it would be great if you were on the homecoming court.' I decided that she's right, this is a great opportunity. It's a chance to give back to the university, to the Honors College, and the overall community at Michigan State. So I applied with her recommendation. And that's how I got there."

Haddad is actively involved in community service through his experiences with Tower Guard, the Adaptive Sports Club, and Honors College Impact. Also, he is the president of MOSAIC, and a member of Honors Students Actively Recruiting, or HSTAR, the Lebanese Student Association, and the American Medical Student Association.

"There are many activities I've done that have so much value for my development as a person," Haddad said. "Being the president of MOSAIC has really been an outstanding opportunity. I've witnessed the formation of new relationships... and kind of foster the relationships between myself and others... and helping people have dialogue that emphasizes the shared humanity we all have, which is often overlooked, and the cause of so many of society's problems these days."

Haddad is a current undergraduate learning assistant for Introductory Microbiology and a Residential Business Community tutor. He has also been conducting research on the gut microbiome for three years in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

"On a professional level, I think the research I've done has really been amazing, opening my eyes towards the process of science and towards what goes into a research project from its inception to its completion," Haddad said.

Nagi is an international student from Bangalore, India. Nagi is a supply chain management senior in the Broad College of Business and Honors College, minoring in entrepreneurship.

"Coming to Michigan State, I was really nervous because I came from India, so I am an international student," Nagi said. "I fell in love with Michigan State. Being on Homecoming Court is me giving back to Michigan State, confirming my home spot here. And then, being part of the alumni class, which is really exciting."

Nagi, along with other international students, created the Broad International Student Council, where she currently serves as the professional development chair.

"I think international students are really scared and nervous when they come to MSU," Nagi said. "It's really intimidating to start from scratch, learn about a new country... everything's really different...I want to have a voice that helps those students out in case they're nervous and scared, or they don't know where to go. Now, they have another outlet."

Currently, Nagi is an intern at Goldman Sachs in their global markets division. She works with their commodities confirmations team.

"It's intimidating but the company culture is great," Nagi said. "It's a professional space with really smart people who know exactly what they're doing, where they want to be, how they're going to get there. It's really inspiring to be working with such great individuals...I'm really grateful for that."

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For incoming international students, Nagi recommends students reach out to clubs, students, alumni, and that they find what they like.

"Do not sit at home watching Netflix, instead of that, reach out join clubs, and spend your evenings at club meetings. There are so many clubs, there's even squirrel watching clubs, so just find what you like. Understand who you are as a person and grow from there," she said. "Do not be afraid to reach out to anybody, even though LinkedIn, or reaching out to alums to figure out which companies you want to work for in the future. Do not be afraid. Go to career fairs and start networking freshman year to reserve your spot for junior internships, and eventually senior full-time positions."

Tran is from Dearborn, Michigan, and is a student in James Madison College, majoring in international relations and minoring in Asian Pacific American Studies and business.

"Historically, homecoming court has been an avenue for overachieving folks, like ASMSU students, or people who have done extraordinary things," Tran said. "For me to be selected as a Homecoming Court representative shows there is hope for something different...I'm not as involved in ASMSU or not well-known in the administration. But I spent a lot of my passionate efforts working with the APIDA community, the Asian Pacific Islander Desi Association."

Tran recently served as the elected marketing director and vice president of the MSU Vietnamese Student Association and now serves as a state representative and liaison for the Union of North American Vietnamese Student Associations and other prominent organizations.

"I worked specifically with the Vietnamese Student Association and APASO, the Asian Pacific American Student Organization," Tran said. "I didn't really feel like we were doing much for ASMSU, whereas I felt like my impact was more directed and more successful within the organizations that I was working in. I was trying my best to be an active advocator and leader on campus, by trying to voice my opinions and encourage others to stand in solidarity...What Homecoming Court means to me is hope for the future generations to know that whatever they do, don't compare yourself to somebody else because what you do is already valuable and unique."

In the summer of 2019, Tran studied abroad in London, studying history, contemporary issues and analysis of the urban city, along with having active roles in several student organizations, which allowed him to continue his advocacy efforts.

"As a person of color in this current environment, it has been a very ongoing struggle for those in the African American community, those who are Latinx, those who are immigrants, Asian Americans, those who follow Islam or are Jewish," Tran said "MSU is very well known as a PWI, or predominantly white institution. My cohort is a much more diverse group than in years past. and this reflects that there's something happening at Michigan State. We are having more folks emerging and becoming uplifting leaders that are coming in solidarity to empower and amplify our voices to administration, the Board of Trustees, and also to the world that is watching our university. We are making a change, and we are going to ensure we hold MSU accountable."

To show your Spartan spirit this year, swap your front porch, window, room, or any other light that can "glow” with a green bulb during Homecoming week. Spartans on and off campus can participate in this tradition through #GlowGreen for #MSUHomecoming.

The Spartans will take on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in the Homecoming football game on Oct. 2. You can purchase tickets here.

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