note: Statements bolded below are excerpts from a nomination letter submitted on Frances' behalf for a 2019 #iteachmsu Educator Award, which she received.
I have just begun my second full-time job at MSU, and after completing all my degrees here consider myself a SPARTAN LIFER. In the past 12 years, I have met many of MSU finest educators. (What luck!) I feel compelled to share now because one of MSU's most wonderful educators is now deceased.
I first met France Kaneene as an undeclared undergrad from a very small town. Neither of my parents went to a four-year institution and I felt lost at MSU. That is until I met Frances. I was perusing MSU's extensive list of majors, overwhelmed with possibilities and my seeming lack of direction, I got excited about a [then] specialization in Connected Learning that was housed in the Bailey Scholars Program, in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. I made an appointment with a random CANR advisor to learn more, and that random advisor happened to be Frances.
I brought my mother with me to that meeting (in the summer) and when we walked into Frances' office, I immediately felt at home. She was so empathetic to the experiences I shared about my time on campus and not only connected me (in real-time via phone) with the Director of BSP, through our conversation she helped me pick a major! I joined the [now] Community Sustainability Studies program (formerly Community Agriculture Recreation and Resource Studies) to complete a B.S. in Environmental Studies and Agriscience. Frances was so kind and considerate of the experiences I was having on campus. She helped me feel like more than a number, going out of her way to share "insider" tips for navigating campus, and finding a sense of place.
When I told Frances that I wanted to apply to graduate school and thus also wanted to finish my degree in three years, she helped me process my motivations and goals. I knew I'd be more likely to receive funding in the fall semester of a program rather than the spring, and my trajectory to finish was December. After many genuine and whole-hearted conversations, Frances helped me think critically about my program plan, problem solve, and design a series of learning experiences that were both interesting AND met all my program requirements. I finished my bachelor's in three years and stayed in the CARRS program for my M.S. and loved that I had Frances [then] as a mentor who kept up with what I was doing and where I was trying to go.
Frances connected me with people on campus. She supported my goals and helped me maintain my curiosity throughout my MSU experience. After I finished my masters degree, I stayed on at MSU as an Extension educator, and Frances and I became work-friends. Over lunch, she encouraged me to pursue my PhD. I remember her saying "academia needs more people like you" and oh how impactful that comment as been.
This summer, I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation from the College of Education's Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education program. I'm now working as a postdoc academic specialist at MSU. So much has changed since I first met Frances. Without her, I might be working towards a PhD now (maybe), but it's also very possible that I would have transferred out of MSU to a smaller institution. Frances is the reason I stayed a Spartan. As an academic advisor, mentor, and colleague - she was ALWAYS an educator to me... and one of MSU's very best at that.