It is one of those quixotic twists of fate, I’m thinking to myself, that I’m standing in a long line of students, parents, and other family members in the Mississippi State University student union, to obtain an MSU tee shirt that proclaims in billboard-size lettering, “Hail State!”
Neither my wife nor I attended the university that was, in the dark ages of my post-high school years, still derisively referred to by many as “Cow College.” Yet for 40 years or so we have found ourselves inextricably linked to the school.
In my early newspaper career, we lived for a decade in a town just 60 miles from MSU, and often went to the campus for concerts, plays, and other events. Our young children, although we never encouraged or discouraged it, formed an early, strong allegiance to the school. They just knew they would one day go there. And so they did.
Our son worked his way through the catalog, then went to Ole Miss law school. Our daughter, who managed to stuff a probably record number of unpaid MSU parking tickets into her car’s glove compartment her first year there (she had to work an entire summer to pay them off before being readmitted), ended up making Starkville home, and now is a university employee. Our four darling granddaughters were born in the Starkville hospital, swaddled in MSU blankets, learned MSU fight songs right along with “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” and “Itsy-bitsy spider,” and are diehard Bulldog fans. And I’ve spent four decades-plus in an ag-related career in which MSU has been a key source of information.
Photos: At the invitation of our oldest granddaughter (above and below) I joined her for orientation as she officially became a Mississippi State University student (an all-too-brief time ago, it seems, she was a baby in my arms). As toddlers, our four granddaughters learned Mississippi State University fight songs right along with “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” and “Itsy-bitsy spider.” .
So, on this gray, rainy day, at the invitation of our oldest granddaughter, I’m joining her and her mother for orientation as she officially becomes an MSU student (an all-too-brief time ago, it seems, she was a baby in my arms). I chat with the woman next to me in the tee shirt line; she’s from California and her daughter has come to MSU for its outstanding poultry science curriculum. A nearby student is from halfway around the world, come for the renowned aeronautical engineering courses. Another is here for the top-ranked meteorology program (your local TV weatherperson is apt as not to be an MSU grad). As the new students later are separated and sent to registration, I note one of the largest groups is for the various agriculture specialties.
In welcoming the group, MSU President Mark Keenum contrasts the education prospects of students 100 years ago and now — the astounding advances in science and technology, the new discoveries made as research builds upon research, knowledge builds upon knowledge. The tomorrow you will help to build promises to be even more wondrous, he tells them; because of this leapfrogging of learning and discovery, a large percentage of the jobs in the world of 2030, just 13 years away, don’t even exist today. “You’re going to be a part of these exciting changes and challenges,” he says.
So, one granddaughter now in the MSU fold, three more waiting in the wings. HAIL STATE! GO DAWGS!