A Family Commitment to Spartans

MSU alumni Phillip and Tonya Collier believe in giving back and one way they are doing that is by supporting the College of Arts & Letters Citizen Scholars program, which is designed to prepare the next generation of diverse, high-achieving, and engaged citizen leaders.

“The Citizen Scholars program is so energetic and exciting,” Tonya Collier said. “I attended the showcase for the first-year presentations. They do a research project, and then there’s a reception and an opportunity to speak to those in attendance about their research. It’s part of the curriculum, and it was phenomenal.

“To hear the young people talk about their study abroad opportunities, the research topics that they developed out of their classroom studies or their own interests, some being the arts, some being brain, theory, others being criminal justice was really, really nice. And it was so fun to inspire them and to be inspired by their enthusiasm for action.”

The Collier’s support of the Citizen Scholars program is helping students like Grace Beltowski, a Citizen Scholar and Professional Writing major.

I’m proud of the institution that educated us, and I’m willing to give back so that future generations can attend and have a wonderful experience as well.

Tonya Collier, B.A. English 1987

“I used my (Citizen Scholars) scholarship for a study abroad to Peru, and I was there for a month studying environmental communications, learning about what different environmental issues exist in Peru such as illegal mining, deforestation, global warming, and then the different communication measures that are in place to talk about these issues,” Beltowski said.

Students like Abbie Crick, who received her B.A. in English in May and one of the first three students to graduate from the Citizen Scholars program, also have benefited from donor support to the Citizen Scholars program.

“To have people believe in me has allowed me to go out and do so much good,” Crick said. “When you donate, you’re donating directly to students. It allows students like me to be able to go to school, to be able to be working in the community. It’s an investment in students. It’s an investment in your future leaders. It’s an investment in bettering your community, and ultimately, in bettering your world.”


Tonya Collier is an alumna of MSU’s College of Arts & Letters. She received a B.A. in English in 1987. Phillip Collier is an alumnus of the College of Natural Science. He received a B.S. in Physiology in 1987.

For the past three years, the Colliers have attended the College of Arts & Letters’ Arts Weekend on Mackinac Island. Tonya Collier said she first attended Arts Weekend in 2017 because of her interest in being a donor.

“After attending Arts Weekend, I was super charged to come again and to be more engaged with the College,” she said.

This year, their daughters – Laura, who graduated from MSU in 2016 with a B.A. in Arts and Humanities from the Residential College in Arts and Humanities, and Tylor, who is a current student at MSU majoring in Social Relations and Policy – also attended Arts Weekend. 

“I’m proud of the institution that educated us,” Tonya Collier said, “and I’m willing to give back so that future generations can attend and have a wonderful experience as well.”