Ian Gray Scholar: Alex Marx

On November 27th, you can be part of #GiveGreenDay and give promising MSU entrepreneurial scholars the opportunity to shine

Alex Marx, 2017’s James Ian Gray Scholar

I came to Michigan State University in the Fall of 2015 driven by environmental studies. I enrolled in a residential living-learning community (RISE) which showed me a culture of growth — growth through agriculture processes and growth through personal development. Volunteering and working at the Bailey GREENhouse and Urban Farm exposed me to beekeeping, composting, research, grant proposals, and teaching. During my freshman year, I attended an entrepreneurship and innovation mixer, the beginning of a new undergraduate program on campus. It was at this mixer I was introduced to the possibility of tying my experience with the environment to the designing of a venture.

During my sophomore year, I worked with a team of students and professors to develop the first-ever student-run, university-supported startup at Michigan State University. I founded and managed Land Grant Goods, an herbal tea and value-added agriculture startup. Land Grant Goods gave me the good fortune of running a business, allowing me the opportunity to engage and learn from leaders across the university. To say I was absorbed by the learning experience would be an understatement — through hands-on experience, I developed new skills.

MSU students jump for joy for Land Grant Good(ness): Left to right: Bethany Kogut, Alex Marx, Abdullah Mohammed. Photo Credit: Communications and Brand Strategy, Michigan State University © 2017. All rights reserved.

It was also in my sophomore year at MSU that I was awarded the Ian Gray Scholarship, which enabled me to embody a passion and work ethic that I had aspired toward throughout my college career. This scholarship gave me financial security. It took a large amount of pressure off me and my need to pay for school. Not only that, it allowed me to work and make decisions more strategically. I traveled to Japan the summer after I received the Ian Gray Scholarship to participate in an internship with the largest cornstarch company in the country, Japan Cornstarch. It was eye-opening to experience the factory and logistical operations there.

After returning for my Junior year, I became the CEO of Land Grant Goods and had a moving educational experience. As CEO, I managed twenty first-year interns. Being able to share with them the importance of accountability and the same work ethic that I had been developing showed me the value of employee interactions and the scope of work within a business.

The most significant impact this scholarship had on me is my decision to change majors and pursue creative advertising. By continuing my education within a program focuses on extending my imagination, I have been able to cross many boundaries that previously would have been inaccessible to me. I want to thank Dr. Gray, Dr. Anderson, Dr. Laurie Thorp, and Michigan State University for giving me a voice and continued support. This space has introduced me to a world full of opportunity and has taught me that I am capable of growth I once thought was impossible.


Alex Marx is a Senior at Michigan State University. This post is part of a Voices of the MSU Hatch series showcasing the vibrant, talented recipients of the James Ian Gray Scholarship in Entrepreneurial Studies. On Tuesday, November 27th, 2018, you can be part of MSU’s#GiveGreenDay—24-hours of philanthropic giving! Together, we can ensure entrepreneurial scholars, like Alex, receive the support they need to pursue their passions and nurture their curiosities at Michigan State University.