One of my favorite MSU memories from undergrad was when I accidentally stumbled on the traditional first singing of the alma mater by the Spartan Marching Band while out on a walk my senior year. No one from the dorm was interested in a walk, so I was alone with my thoughts. It could be that I was already feeling sentimental about my upcoming graduation (read: I was slightly a wreck about having to leave MSU!), but there was something so powerful about hearing this band sing that song, under the stars and the campus lanterns on the banks of the Red Cedar. If there is one memory I wish all Spartans could have, it’s this. It’s one of the most vivid memories I have of campus. It sticks with me in a visceral way.

Not all memories are that strong. This one involved all the senses – I could hear the voices, smell the fresh fall air, feel the breeze off the river, see the warm glow of the lights… I think that helped lock it more deeply into my memory.

A key to communicating messages is to tap into these emotions in your audience. The Michigan State University Communications and Brand Strategy (CABS) office clearly knows this. Their recent photo and audio essay on the Spartan Marching Band (The Beat Goes On), posted on MSUToday last week, works off several senses. The photography is gorgeous, and the audio clips are all great. But what got me was that audio clip of the first singing of the alma mater. Suddenly, I wasn’t sitting at my desk listing with earbuds. Instead, I was back on the banks of the Red Cedar. It’s August of 2007, and I think I only have one year left on campus. (Little did I know then that I wasn’t going anywhere – I’ve worked on campus full-time since the day I graduated.)

Thank you to the staff in the CABS office for giving me that moment of reminiscing and proving the second, less well-known verse, to be completely true.


MSU Shadows (Alma Mater)

MSU, we love thy shadows
When twilight silence falls,
Flushing deep and softly paling
O’er ivy covered halls;
Beneath the pines we’ll gather
To give our faith so true,
Sing our love for Alma Mater
And thy praises, MSU.

When from these scenes we wander
And twilight shadows fade,
Our mem’ry still will linger
Where light and shadows played;
In the evening oft we’ll gather
And pledge our faith anew,
Sing our love for Alma Mater
And thy praise, MSU.