Thursday, February 9, 2023

From kindergarten to college: MSU students talk transition from locals to students

September 14, 2022
Education junior Kelly Burzych stands in between her siblings Mary Kay and Jay for a photo at the Spartan Statue on a visit in 2006. Burzych has been a local to the Greater Lansing area her entire life, and now goes to Michigan State University.
Education junior Kelly Burzych stands in between her siblings Mary Kay and Jay for a photo at the Spartan Statue on a visit in 2006. Burzych has been a local to the Greater Lansing area her entire life, and now goes to Michigan State University. —

Jumping up and down in the Izzone, devouring endless food at the Brody cafeteria and getting ice cream from the Dairy Store, no matter how cold it is outside: These are staple activities for Michigan State University students, but they are also experiences some students have had long before their freshman year.

Professional and public writing senior Kyla Chamberlain lived in East Lansing for the majority of her childhood and grew up attending Haslett schools. As a local, Chamberlain said she has a special connection to MSU.

“When the students come in, we kind of feel like we run the place,” Chamberlain said. “We kind of feel like we have ownership and we feel at home here.”

For some locals, attending Michigan State is the obvious choice. When education junior Kelly Burzych graduated from Okemos High School, she knew she wanted to go to MSU for its top education program — and to follow in her family’s footsteps.

“MSU’s also in my blood,” Burzych said. “Everyone in my family went there.”

Psychology junior Angela Mothersell, who also graduated from Okemos High School, felt strongly about coming to MSU. She said she never wanted to go anywhere else.

“I just love it, it’s home,” Mothersell said. “I grew up here, I love the environment. I’ve always wanted to be a Spartan, my whole family went here. It’s just a great community.”

Being only 15 minutes away from home can make it feel like you’re not experiencing anything completely new, but it can also be an advantage, Burzych said. 

Not only does it make moving easier, but a hug or a home-cooked meal is just down the road. Staying near home and being close to family was one of the reasons Chamberlain returned to East Lansing after spending her freshman year at the University of Alabama.

“Multiple times a week I have dinner with my dad, and I’ll visit my mom and spend time with my little brother and I’ll see my pets,” Chamberlain said. “It's really nice to have home so close to campus.”

When going to college in your hometown, many student traditions may be things you have already experienced. However, for local students like Mothersell, becoming a student changes how many of these experiences feel.

“I obviously grew up a Michigan State fan and going to games,” Mothersell said. “But I feel way more part of the community now that I actually go here.”

Burzych said she felt a similar change when she became a student. Instead of seeing MSU's campus as a fun place to visit or a place to watch sports games, she now views campus as her school.

Mathematics sophomore Michael Cherry, who grew up in Charlotte and attended Lansing schools, said he feels more involved in campus culture and activities since becoming a student.

“You’re not watching from the outside,” Cherry said. “Like being in the student section and going to classes instead of just events around campus.”

Another advantage for local students is having a better knowledge of campus than other students. Grand Ledge native and microbiology junior Addy Walia said even when he’s not in school, he is in East Lansing almost every day.

“I know MSU like the back of my hand,” Walia said. “It’s a really familiar spot.”

With so many years spent in East Lansing and the surrounding cities, local students know a lot of hidden gems on and near campus. Walia said one of his favorite places to go since childhood is the NCG Cinema, located in the Eastwood Towne Center in Lansing.

Burzych said her favorite on-campus coffee spots are Blue Owl Coffee and Foster Coffee, both located on Albert Avenue. She also said she loves to eat at Sansu, a sushi restaurant located on Hagadorn Road in Hannah Plaza.

Tasty Twist, a local ice cream shop located on Grand River Avenue, is one of Mothersell’s favorite East Lansing locations.

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“It’s fun and it’s so easy to go to,” Mothersell said. “And then you can sit in the little outside area and just talk. And it’s cheap, which is nice.”

Chamberlain said she frequents several local farmer's markets held in Lansing every week. She also said her friends and family take a yearly trip to Uncle John’s Cider Mill in the fall. The cider mill is located in St. Johns and features fresh donuts and cider along with daily activities.

While MSU's campus is filled with things to do and places to go, Mothersell said she wishes more students would venture outside of East Lansing to see what the Greater Lansing area has to offer.

“I feel like if more people went into Lansing, they would realize that it’s actually pretty nice,” Mothersell said. “It’d be fun if students went to Lugnuts games because they are a lot of fun and it gets you into the city.”

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