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Your Scholarships, Their Future: Living the Scholarship Life

In his words: Evan Griffis, ’23, Fisheries and Wildlife, STARR Scholar

Evan Griffis observes birds as part of his research project

Your Scholarships, Their Future: Living the Scholarship Life

In his words: Evan Griffis, ’23, Fisheries and Wildlife, STARR Scholar

Evan Griffis, shown here at MSU's Corey Marsh Ecological Research Center, just finished his freshman year and comes to Michigan State from the small town of Newberry in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

When we asked Evan to contribute his thoughts on what it meant to him to be the recipient of one of MSU’s most generous donor-funded scholarships, we had no idea that he was also an excellent writer, who would convey his story to us with rich detail and deep sincerity. So, well, we’ll let him tell you:


“My parents, father Randy a high school history teacher and mother Linda owner of a small daycare business out of our house, were hard working and ever encouraging of my interests.

“The bird feeders outside the living room window of my home provided countless hours of entertainment and observation. My once passive interest in birds began to develop into something more serious. I realize now that simply the setting of my upbringing in the rural Upper Peninsula had enormous implications on developing my interests and sense of purpose in life; this purely natural landscape was my home, with so many fantastic features within that many people cannot and will not ever recognize. To realize this, required countless days of wandering the woodlands and exploring to develop a respect and interest in our natural world. I cannot imagine that I would have developed this anywhere else.

“I chose Michigan State University primarily for their outstanding Fisheries and Wildlife Department. I saw extensive course offerings and learned of many undergraduate research positions available within the department… After learning of all these opportunities, I had a sense that I would more than likely be attending MSU after my senior year. Little did I know that would be confirmed in a few short months with the outcome of the STARR scholarship.

“I vividly remember how I learned of being selected to be a STARR scholar. It was a joyful phone call, and I knew that the news was positive as soon as I picked up. I was ecstatic, relieved and honored. It was really hard to believe that this incredible award had been bestowed upon me. Receiving the scholarship made me feel ready to begin my college career and I knew that I would be able to passionately explore my interests in college without worry.

“While it plays a large part in easing financial concerns, the time which I may have spent working had I not received the scholarship is now spent exploring my interests. For example, I was able to buy a car to work off-campus at the Michigan State Bird Observatory as a mist-net intern for three days a week during the fall migration season.

“I also believe that I must see the world if I am to work to conserve what natural aspects remain. With this in mind, as well as the contributions of the STARR scholarship, I have decided to enroll in an education abroad program to Antarctica over winter break of 2020-21. This opportunity perhaps best highlights what being a STARR recipient has allowed me to do that I otherwise would not have been able to. The finances are daunting, and the STARR scholarship makes it much less so.

“I cannot say that I would not be at MSU without the STARR, but I can say that my experience is certainly much different with much more opportunity before me than if I had not been selected to be a recipient. I honestly think about how fortunate I am quite often, that donors who have never personally met me think highly enough of me to finance my entire college career, believing in my success and committed to helping me develop both academically and personally. Their generosity inspires me, for its magnitude is difficult to comprehend.”


Read on…