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Spartan women embody proud MSU tradition

The Fall 2019 edition of Spartan, Michigan State University's alumni magazine, contains a feature titled Rising to the Challenge. In Classical Greece, Spartan women were famed for their strength, education and independence. Female Spartans have always been among the legions of exceptional MSU grads who embody that proud tradition in the modern world, like MSU alumna and Michigan's Senior United States Senator Debbie Stabenow, who wrote the introduction to the piece.

“Well, you know, it's always fun to connect with people who are Spartans when I'm in Washington, when I'm home in Michigan or when I'm traveling,” says Stabenow. “We're all very, very proud of this school and its reputation. In my role as U.S. Senator, I'm extremely proud of its research and international roles. I've had the opportunity to travel in Africa and see first-hand the international agricultural role, helping those in other countries learn how to feed themselves and create an economy. Michigan State has such an incredible reputation as a premier agriculture and research institution. It really makes me proud.”

With a passion for public service and a fierce dedication to challenging the status quo, Governor Gretchen Whitmer is committed to beefing up education and career opportunities, improving access to healthcare and protecting our state's precious natural resources.

“My years at MSU were some of the best of my life. In all the years that I was in the Legislature, I was fortunate to represent East Lansing and consequently my alma mater. I have two MSU degrees. The relationships and the education and the perspective I got from my time at MSU is something that has benefited me as a mom, as a Michigander, and as a public servant.

“There is an incredible nation of Spartans around the world that are connected and fiercely identify with the university and represent grit and determination and problem solving. It's something that is always with me in everything that I do, and that's why I will always be so invested in making sure that Michigan State University is successful and that future Spartans and current Spartans are as well.”

Physician Mona Hanna-Attisha of MSU's College of Human Medicine and her team helped prove that the children of Flint had been poisoned by a lead contaminated water supply. Now she's working to build a new and better model for public health. Dr. Mona's book, What The Eyes Don't See, is one of the New York Times 100 notable books of 2018.

“Another purpose of my book was to share an immigrant story. I'm a first generation immigrant. I came to this country when I was four. I'm Iraqi-American. We came to this country for what all immigrants come to this country for: freedom and democracy and the American dream. And I wake up every day blessed and privileged to be a recipient of that American dream.

But there are little kids that look just like me and they have that same color of skin as me who are no longer afforded that opportunity. And in a sense it's as if we've corroded that American dream.”

When Cookie Johnson's husband, NBA great Magic Jackson, revealed his HIV status in 1991, she turned her initial fears into a newfound mission. More than two decades later, she continues to inspire as an example of faith and perseverance.

“I grew up so much at Michigan State. All I had known was Detroit. Michigan State also had a career center that helped me when I graduated. That was amazing to have that big career center that you guys have. I don't think I would've found a job if it wasn't for that, if it hadn't been for Michigan State. They helped me get internships. Michigan State provided a lot of resources that helped me toward the end when I was about to graduate to help me start my career and get going.”

Read Rising to the Challenge in the Fall 2019 edition of Spartan, the MSU alumni magazine. Visit alumni.msu.edu for more.

MSU Today airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on 105.1 FM and AM 870.

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