Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The University of Michigan vs. Michigan State University

“You’re a traitor! How can you have done your undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan and now you’re doing your PhD at Michigan State University?” says the customs agents to me most times as I cross the border into the USA.

Michigan State University and the University of Michigan are 100km/ 60 miles away from each other, and are both in the Big Ten Conference. The rivalry between these two schools seems to extend to even border control. It seems that most people in Michigan favours either the University of Michigan or Michigan State University, but never both. And being that I am both a Wolverine and a Spartan, opens me up to random comments, head shaking and the constant question why? On one occasion the customs agent said to me “You suck! Yah, I said it and there is nothing you can do about it.” I’d like to believe he was joking.

When I was looking at graduate schools I literally looked at every school across the world offering Sports Psychology. For my interest area, Michigan State University was the best match. Now being someone who bleeds maize and blue, it was initially tough to be on the green and white campus. I mean for 4 years I competed as a student-athlete for the University of Michigan. I’d have such pride as I’d put on my maize and blue uniform and stepped on the track to compete. I set conference, stadiums and school records as a student-athlete there, that still remain in place today! And I credit much of my development into a world-class athlete and thirst for academics to the University of Michigan. So, to cross over to the land of Spartans was definitely a difficult adjustment, initially. Ironically, I currently train at the University of Michigan with my coach James Henry and study at Michigan State University.

The truth is Michigan State University is equally a phenomenal school. I have experienced incredible support, leadership and guidance at Michigan State University. Moreover, being a professional athlete and a PhD student (along with the personal problems of life) is not an easy task to juggle. There are classes, conferences and publications I’ve missed out on because of my athletics. But, my school and advisor, Dr. Feltz, have managed to always understand, while still demanding erudite work. The bar of excellence is constantly being raised. Likewise, I’m surrounded by phenomenal professors and students that you can’t help but want to produce amazing research.

Yes, I am a Spartan but I am also a Wolverine,

In the company of greatness,


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful piece, Nicole. Thank you. My experience at MSU
(1963) was extraordinary PLUS it prepared me for 30 years in the classroom which I loved. You've found what's best about both universities....that's a good thing!

Nicole Wendy Forrester said...


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