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Student view: 'What you make of it'

August 30, 2022 - Ellie Baden

Ellie Baden is a senior with three majors and six minors. In James Madison College, Baden is a dual major in political theory and constitutional democracy, and social relations and policy; in the College of Arts and Letters, she is majoring in interdisciplinary humanities. Baden’s minors include: art history and visual culture; classical and Ancient Mediterranean studies; environmental and sustainability studies; Jewish studies; leadership in integrated learning; and science, technology, environment, and public policy (STEPP). Baden is also in the Honors College and is extremely active on campus as a mentor to first-year students, assuming various leadership roles within JMC, ASMSU and other organizations on campus. Baden is a member of the 2022 Homecoming Court.

headshot of Ellie Baden

I know it’s cliché, but I truly believe that a college experience is what you make of it. As such, I have done my best to make the most of my time at Michigan State, which has led me to pursue three majors and six minors across four colleges, five on-campus jobs, three years of undergraduate research experience, a summer study abroad, and involvement with more than ten student organizations. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is. 

While I have yet to participate in a quidditch game or walk around campus with the Bat Association, I can confidently say that I have been able to experience a lot of what MSU has to offer. During my time here, I have grown as a student, writer, researcher and thinker. I feel very fortunate to have found an academic home where I could develop skills such as organization, time management and communication that will continue to benefit me throughout my career.  

However, it is not always easy to manage this level of involvement. At times, I have struggled to balance the demands of my courses, work, extracurricular activities, and commitments to friends and family. I have had to make many difficult decisions about how to allocate my time, including sometimes sacrificing exciting opportunities so that I can thrive in what I do choose to do. I have also learned the importance of self-care and prioritizing my mental health, and I make sure to set aside specific time to do casual things like watching TV, being with friends and making sure I am eating well-balanced meals. 

While all of these strategies are important, I have come to appreciate the fact that the most vital component of living a busy life is to have a good support network. It took time to realize, but the relationships I have made at MSU and beyond have ensured that I am never alone and never have to struggle in silence. I am so lucky to have friends, family members, professors and mentors whom I can rely on in good times and bad.

Four women standing arm in arm at a Spartan football game
Ellie Baden (center right) is one of three JMC students on the MSU Homecoming Court.

Whenever I feel stressed, I make sure to call a friend and make plans for a movie night, coffee date or even just to talk. When I am feeling stuck, I turn to my family for unconditional love and support. When I feel overwhelmed, I try to communicate this to my professors, who can then help me navigate my academic responsibilities. When unsure how to prioritize my commitments or what next steps to take, I turn to my mentors and advisers for advice and help. In turn, I am always there to help my friends pick out fun tailgating outfits, review my little brothers’ English papers and provide support to other students as a mentor for both James Madison College and the Honors College. 

I am proud of all I have accomplished while at Michigan State University and in James Madison College, and I am grateful for those I have met along the way. Everyone’s road to success looks different but, for me, success in college is not defined by my cumulative GPA or the number of lines on my resume. Instead, I define my success by the fact that I have put myself out there, said yes to opportunities, prioritized my mental health and learned how to ask for help.