At Grand Valley State University we are lucky enough to be surrounded by opportunity. Whether in the classroom or simply in the Laker community, we are surrounded by individuals with different opinions and ideas, along with the materials needed to make a difference in the world around us.

This ability to make meaningful change is shown by Jordan Vanderham, a GVSU student who created a thermal mask that can be used to make breathing in cold climates more comfortable. This is a great example of taking the skills learned in the classroom and applying them to the real world.

Available to all students at GVSU, we have a 3-D printer on campus, a state of the art library and every year, we seem to open up a new building focused on student success. Students from GVSU win awards every year for their work on the national level. We have the skills, we have the resources, we have the manpower.

As Lakers, we have to think about what our “Laker Effect” will be. We have the opportunity to make the Laker name spread far and wide. We just need to ensure that we are focusing our college education on more than just a GPA or the end goal of getting that diploma. Along the way, we need to make sure we’re thinking for ourselves and looking outside of how things have always been done.

That’s the only way Lakers and other members of our generation will be able to start solving the problems that face the rest of humanity. Sure, a mask for cold-weather breathing may not seem like a worldwide game-changer, but the ingenuity and inventiveness used to create Vanderham’s creation is exactly what other Lakers should be striving to utilize in their own fields of study.

Innovative thinking isn’t the easiest thing to do. It can sometimes start off with just one thought, or it can take months to formulate a coherent idea. The greatest thing about being in college, and more specifically at GVSU, is the resources we are offered. There are hundreds of faculty, staff and volunteers that are all willing to help us with out-of-the-box innovative thinking. It’s high time the students at GVSU take advantage of those opportunities while they’re offered, when failure can still be considered a wonderful and valuable learning opportunity.

As the number of Laker alumni continues to increase, it is clear the number of Lakers changing the world for the better will also grow. The Lanthorn congratulates Vanderham on his success with his endeavors and encourages other Lakers to follow his lead.