We never know when life will place challenges in our path. Often, it happens when we least expect it.
Alex Powell was a high school senior, a dedicated student, an enthusiastic athlete and a natural leader. His smile radiated confidence and his heart held the dreams that every one of us hopes will come true for those we love. There were no outward signs that the future was anything but bright for Alex. His senior pictures depict a strong, vital young man with his mother’s eyes and his father’s confident bearing. Our lives can be profoundly changed in an instant, and so it was with Alex Powell. A rare, aggressive cancer was growing inside of him. And as Alex contemplated his acceptance at Michigan State University, he knew that his remaining earthly journey would be brief and each day would slowly peel away his strength.
A cancer diagnosis focuses you on making the most of every day and Alex was determined to fully participate in his Spartan experience. As the disease began to take its toll, he turned to MSU’s Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities. He discovered that the center served a large student population, many with challenges not visible to the eye, but all sharing the same desire: to learn and grow despite conditions that some would define as insurmountable. RCPD helped Alex to reap the maximum benefit that an MSU education has to offer. As his physical needs increased, the Center continued to make it possible for him to ponder the mysteries of science, appreciate the beauty of the written word, and to enjoy those activities beyond the classroom that so mix to create a Spartan.
Alex never lost his zest for life. He faced its end with courage, humor and a resilience that amazed and inspired all who had come to know him. He also shared the ultimate dream that lives inside each of us: to create a legacy, to leave the world in better shape than he found it.
As Alex prepared for MSU, the Powells sought partnership in planning an approach that could help him reach his objectives despite the significant implications of his treatment. RCPD was there at the moment compassion, guidance, creativity and strategy were needed. Chronic Health Specialist Shani Feyen listened, connected and partnered with Alex, his family and others across campus to make his arrival at MSU reality. Experiencing an energized, possibility centered specialist who was ready with ideas, connections and solutions made the difference for Alex and his family.
“We’re here when life happens.” That’s how Michael Hudson, Director of the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities articulates his mission. This is the foundation on which The RCPD stands tall. Ensuring its continued success is Alex Powell’s legacy.
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Video: Alex's Great State Race 2015
Proceeds from this endowment will:
- Energize and extend staff leadership via team and professional development focused on capacity building for an exceptional Spartan experience.
- Enhance the Spartan experience through outreach, specialized assistance and services to students and families facing challenges around difficult disability dynamics with special sensitivity to those facing cancer and other acute challenges.
Alex Powell Leadership Endowment in the News
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Alex Powell never imagined calling on the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities or needing to rely on U-M medical services, but a serious cancer diagnosis changed that and ultimately launched an unlikely partnership.
The RCPD celebrated their 44th Annual Awards and Appreciation Reception on April 22nd, 2016. The event highlighted exceptional Spartan students and community members.
Alex’s Great State Race is a living legacy to a heroic young man and supports the organizations that made it possible for him to become a Spartan.