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Recognizing our Honors College Alums and Spring 2023 Graduates

By Sloane Barlow

The Honors College would like to thank its recent graduates, as well as its inspiring alumni, who took the time to speak at Spring 2023 Michigan State graduation ceremonies across campus.

Please join us in extending our gratitude and appreciation to our alumni speakers: Farhan Bhatti, Ph.D., Yvette Efevbera, Ph.D., and Chelsey Spriggs, Ph.D.

Michigan State Honors College alumna Chelsey Spriggs, Ph.D. earned her bachelor’s degree in Microbiology at Michigan State, before receiving her Doctor of Philosophy degree studying Microbiology and Immunology at Northwestern University. Spriggs spoke out to the College of Natural Science graduating class, telling her story of taking a leap of faith and finding passion in life when describing her journey leaving medical school to continue research.

“I want you to remember that it’s okay to change your mind!” Spriggs said. “It’s okay to think that you want one thing and to later decide to pursue a different path. Whatever decisions that you find yourself making now, and in the future, I urge you to stand boldly in your choices and to realize that you can make the right decision for you in one moment, and also change your mind and make another right decision for you in the next.”

Fellow Honors College alumnus Farhan Bhatti, Ph.D. earned his Bachelor of Science in Physiology and his Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration and Public Policy at Michigan State, before receiving his Doctor of Medicine degree from the College of Human Medicine. In his remarks, Bhatti encouraged the Lyman Briggs graduating class to stand strong against the wave of “anti-science” that has dramatically grown since the global pandemic.

“With all your training, education, and expertise, you will be entering the world ready to make change, to improve lives, to move the world,” said Bhatti. “Do not lose faith in your chosen profession, do not give up, and equally important—if not most important—do not hide.

He continued to highlight the significant role of scientists in an anti-science society, “We deal in observed phenomena, we demand proof, we demand testability and repeatability, we expect refutation and invalidation, and if we are doing our job, we respond by pursuing better proof.”

Honors College alumna Yvette Efevbera, Ph.D., earned her undergraduate degree in International Relations and African studies from James Madison College, before receiving a master’s degree from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and her Doctor of Science degree in Population and Reproductive Health from Harvard University.

Speaking to the James Madison College graduating class, Efevbera reflected on her own path of life-altering transitions and how she followed her heart, in hopes of spreading wisdom she wished she had when graduating from Michigan State.

“Right now, I stand in solidarity with every single one of you because I’m in the midst of my fourth major transition,” said Efevbera. “I recently decided to leave my job. I realized it was time for me to go, not because I don’t love the work—I do—but because I realized it was time for me to reconnect with my values in how I do the work.”

“Graduates,” Efevbera continued, “When the cost of doing business requires you to sacrifice too much of what you believe in, I hope you will stop, reflect, remember your values, and make a change.”

The Honors College would also like to recognize and celebrate its recent graduates who spoke at graduation, representing their senior classes: Elyse Baden, Carlos Conrad, and Mikayla Norton

Graduating Honors student Mikayla Norton wrote and presented the senior class address at the College of Engineering commencement ceremony. This past spring, Norton earned her Bachelor of Science degree studying Applied Engineering Sciences with a concentration in Supply Chain Management, and with minors in Engineering (CSE), Science, and Business and Computational Mathematics.

Her words of wisdom to the graduating class focused on remembering all the memories made together at Michigan State, and how they all helped each other get through the worst of times.

“We will always be united by what we have faced together. An unfathomable pandemic, unimaginable violence,” said Norton. “If you’ve found your voice after those challenges. Don’t lose it! If voices have risen around you that really speak to you, listen.”

“Maybe that can be the real legacy of being a Spartan Engineer,” Norton continued. “And maybe the legacy of this class—of 2023. That we show up. We listen. We are there for it. Every day. We build teams. We collaborate. We lead. We lift each other up.”

Fellow graduating Honors student Carlos Conrad gave the senior class address to the Eli Broad College of Business commencement ceremony. Conrad has earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Supply Chain Management, as well as minors in Environment and Sustainability Studies and Peace and Justice Studies. When addressing the Broad graduating class of 2023, Conrad chose to tell the successful story of his late father, in relation to the resilience Spartans have, and will continue to need in their journeys ahead.

“Keep moving forward. No matter what life throws at you, your very existence on this earth is already more than enough,” Conrad said. “Our stories are not going to be finished tomorrow, next week, or even in ten years. And just like my father taught me, our stories, and the legacies we leave behind, will continue to move onward.”

And finally, graduating Honors student Elyse Baden had the honor of addressing the entire graduating class at the Michigan State Undergraduate Convocation. Baden has earned a total of three bachelor’s degrees, studying Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy, Social Relations and Policy, and Interdisciplinary Humanities with a concentration in Classical Art History

In her speech to the graduating class of 2023, Baden observed the tagline “Spartans Will” to showcase the graduates’ strength and perseverance throughout their years overcoming the global pandemic and the events of February 13, 2023.

“It can be hard to feel strong when it seems like the world is falling apart,” Baden said to the crowd of Spartans. “However, the fact that we are here today, graduating, is a true testament to our strength. Spartans WILL be strong. Spartans WILL persevere. Spartans WILL adapt. Spartans WILL support each other. Spartans WILL through our Spartan WILL.”

As the academic year came to a close, the Honors College celebrated its inspiring students who then set out to embark on their journeys. In the words of Elyse Baden, “Regardless of what comes after this moment for us as individuals, we will always be bonded as an MSU community by everything we have experienced here.”

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