Anna Backman would have missed out on a lot of the college experience without the help of the STARR Scholarship.

Anna Backman in the Munn Pinetum, near Munn Ice Arena. Backman is a sophomore in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities and the Honors College.

Broadening Horizons

Anna Backman feared that she wouldn’t be able to have the “full college experience.” Growing up in Dollar Bay on Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, her home was just minutes away from Michigan Technological University. Being so close, she just couldn’t justify the added expense of living in a campus dorm, so she planned to live at home. But Backman was concerned that by doing so she would be stunting her personal growth by limiting her exposure to new experiences, diverse groups of people and ideas, and by not being forced to make new friends in new circumstances.

Fortunately, the STARR Charitable Foundation Scholarship allowed Backman to broaden her horizons, and in fall 2014 she found herself at Michigan State University in the Residential College of Arts and Humanities.

In Search Of Opportunities

As a Spartan, Backman has lived under the mantra of “be open to change,” noting “opportunities come up along the way.” She’s definitely taken advantage of opportunities, learning the most from meeting people with different views. She says she’s been able to become a more diverse person and build different skill sets. She’s taken a range of classes, from human sexuality to scuba diving to auto-electrical fundamentals, which she took at the nearby Lansing Community College campus. She’s declared a major of arts and humanities, with minors in LGBTQ and sexuality studies and women and gender studies. Without the scholarship, she feels she would have had to focus on one academic path with a specific career in mind because she wouldn’t have the financial freedom to pay for classes that would allow her to explore and identify new interests.  

Expanding Her Worldview

Without the scholarship, Backman would have spent the summer between her freshman and sophomore year working to save for school tuition payments. Instead, she found herself spending a month traveling solo through Scandinavia, hopping from hostel to hostel, sightseeing, hiking, and soaking up the culture of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. She learned so much on that trip, about the world and about herself. She’s thrilled to have had this opportunity to expand her worldview and her understanding of what it means to be a global citizen.

To Backman, the STARR Charitable Foundation Scholarship was not just a scholarship. It didn’t just pay for tuition. “This scholarship has allowed me to have a college experience. Most important it has allowed me to grow as a person,” she says. “I never knew how important it was to leave home until I did!” The scholarship opened the door to opportunities that may not have been possible, and Backman eagerly awaits more opportunities in her final two years in East Lansing.

This post is part of a series, Not Just A Scholarship, featuring various scholarship recipients at Michigan State University. You can also follow #NotJustAScholarship on our social media channels to learn more about these Spartans throughout the year.

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