Spartan Summer

For Michigan State University students, summer is a time to learn, discover, inspire and create.

As this summer ends, see how they pursued their goals and made their mark on the world.

Scroll to see student stories and search #SpartanSummer to view even more.

Tracking big cat predators

Animal science senior Lacey Olsen traveled to South Africa for 10 weeks for a predator research internship, tracking lions to study their behavior after reintroduction on a wildlife reserve.

“This experience really confirmed my interest in pursuing grad school and research as a future career, as well as studying wildlife conservation and human interaction and conflicts.”

— Lacey Olsen, animal science senior

East Lansing to Nigeria to Detroit

Accounting senior Sahil Aswani began his summer in his hometown of Lagos, Nigeria, spending time with family and friends. Aswani then boarded a flight for Detroit, where he spent the rest of the summer as an intern with Deloitte. His projects at the accounting firm included an annual safety act compliance audit in the automotive industry.

“It was great to be entrusted with big responsibilities and be surrounded by top professionals in my field.”

— Sahil Aswani, accounting senior

East Lansing

Go Green. Go White.
Go Fast.

MSU’s Formula Racing Team doesn’t slow down in the summer. The group of Spartan engineers hit the road, traveling to competitions in Michigan, Nebraska and Pennsylvania where they raced against other college teams. Each team raises funds and designs, builds and races small cars — putting their engineering and problem-solving chops to the test.

A perennial Top 10 team, MSU Formula Racing’s current car is one of the fastest in team history. But speed isn’t the only important factor.

“We take great pride in how high we place in design each year, which is really not only the car you build and how fast it is, but also how well you back up those designs with engineering principles.”

— Christopher McCloskey, mechanical engineering senior and project manager for the team

An exploration of Japan before freshman year

Erin Sawyer started her freshman year at MSU with a fresh stamp in her passport from a First-year Seminar Abroad in Japan. She and fellow students and faculty immersed themselves in Japanese history and culture while exploring Tokyo and Kyoto.

“This seminar helped me grow my language skills and gain a deeper cultural understanding in an immersive learning environment, which will help me tremendously as I work toward a Japanese minor.”

— Erin Sawyer, freshman

Erin Sawyer

Building community in Detroit

Malik Washington and fellow students in MSU’s InnovateGov summer program joined civic organizations throughout Detroit to create solutions to some of the city’s biggest challenges. Washington, who graduated this summer with a degree in public policy, worked in the mayor’s office, where he took part in community outreach initiatives and attended the 2020 Democratic debates hosted in Detroit.

"As a Detroit native, my summer experience was important to me because I wanted to be in a position where I could advocate and propose solutions ensuring that we are creating a Detroit built on inclusionary growth and economic opportunity for all."

— Malik Washington, public policy graduate

Front-row seats on the banks of the Red Cedar

Summer Circle Theatre is a beloved summer tradition that brings free outdoor shows to mid-Michigan audiences on the MSU campus. Behind the scenes, 45 actors spent 240 rehearsal hours preparing for 21 performances.

“My greatest takeaway from Summer Circle Theatre was its ability to prepare me for the craziness that awaits me in the future in regard to working hard, learning from those around you, leaning into your craft and growing as a creator.”

— Zaria Aikens, acting and computer science junior

East Lansing

Students help survivors

Junior Katie Paulot and senior Jala Jefferson are trained volunteers with MSU’s Sexual Assault Program who spent the summer providing fellow students with support through the program’s Crisis Chat. The confidential online service connects individuals experiencing sexual assault or relationship violence with resources.

“I enjoy volunteering with the Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention team because I feel that we provide a great service to the MSU community and help to support survivors on and off campus. This experience is important to me to grow as an individual as well as learning how to connect and support our community.”

— Katie Paulot, comparative cultures and politics junior

Want to see more student stories?

Click below or search #SpartanSummer.

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