English Major to Deliver CAL Commencement Address

Graduating senior Cassie Feith has been selected as the student speaker for the spring 2019 College of Arts & Letters commencement ceremony to be held on Sunday, May 5, at 9:30 a.m. at the Breslin Student Events Center. At the same time, she also will receive the Alumni Award for Undergraduate Excellence, one of the top awards presented by the College to a graduating senior. 

An Honors College student, Feith will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, a specialization in Secondary Education, and a teaching minor in Spanish. As the student commencement speaker, she will represent the graduating class and inspire her peers as they move on from Michigan State University.

“I thought that being the commencement speaker would be a great culminating experience and a way to represent the College one final time. I look at it as a way to give back to the college that provided me with so many opportunities,” said Feith, who has held multiple jobs within the College of Arts & Letters during her time at MSU, with her most recent being an Experiential Learning Intern with the College’s Excel Network. “I am so grateful and thankful for everything that the College has done for me in my time here.”

The College of Arts & Letters has instilled a value of compassion in all of us. I explore that through my own experiences with poetry and writing. In my speech, I open that up to the challenges at MSU in the last year or so and what we can take away from that.

Feith was selected from a group of students who applied to be the student commencement speaker. She also went through an interview process. Her 6-8 minute speech is centered around the development of compassion.

“The College of Arts & Letters has instilled a value of compassion in all of us,” Feith said. “I explore that through my own experiences with poetry and writing. In my speech, I open that up to the challenges at MSU in the last year or so and what we can take away from that.”

Awards and Recognition

During the College of Arts & Letters commencement ceremony, Feith will be presented with a plaque, honoring her as the 2019 recipient of the Alumni Award for Undergraduate Excellence. This award is given annually to a graduating senior from the College who has been notably engaged and involved in the university and surrounding community throughout their time at MSU. The award recognizes both academic excellence and a student’s commitment to outreach and engagement.

Two women holding a big check. The woman on the left has blond hair and the woman on the left has short brown hair
Cassie Feith (Right) receiving a $750 check from Sonja Fritzsche (Left), College of Arts & Letters Associate Dean for Faculty and Administration, for her first place poster presentation at the College of Arts & Letters Creative Arts & Research Forum. 


“Receiving this award has sparked a reflection on all of the times I have put myself out there. I mean that in regards to joining clubs, building relationships, going out for leadership positions, and even exploring the things I really care about in collaboration with those around me,” Feith said. “I just keep coming back to how grateful I am for all of it — this award reminds me of how valuable it is to take risks and pursue my passions.”

Feith also has recently received several other awards including the following:

  • Smith-Marshall Award (April 23, 2019)
  • First place poster presentation in Visual & Performing Arts at University Undergraduate Research & Arts Forum (UURAF) (April 5, 2019)
  • Ambrose D. Patullo Scholarship (April 4, 2019)
  • College of Education Joan & Robert Hawkins Endowed Scholarship in Teacher Education (April 1, 2019)
  • College of Arts & Letters Study Abroad Scholarship (March 29, 2019)
  • College of Education Global Teachers Scholarship (March 28, 2019)
  • First place poetry at the Creative Writing Awards (March 25, 2019)
  • First place poster presentation at the College of Arts & Letters Creative Arts & Research Forum (March 22, 2019)

“I’m incredibly honored and I think that this recognition affirms all of the work that I’ve put in. Going forward, a lot of these awards are supporting my pursuit of a teaching certificate, which is incredibly helpful and lessens a financial burden,” Feith said. “It’s also a great feeling to have people support you. When I submitted my thesis work, I got a lot of great feedback and responses. I’m honored to have people interested in supporting my work.”

I just keep coming back to how grateful I am for all of it — this award reminds me of how valuable it is to take risks and pursue my passions.

Working with faculty and peers in the Department of English, Feith developed a collection of visual poetry that brings together critical and creative methodologies to undertake the representation of social justice as well as embodied gender and sexual identity. This work is titled Blurring Binaries: Queering Poetry at the Intersection of the Personal & the Political.

Life After Graduation

After graduation, Feith is going on a study abroad trip May 17 to June 23 to South Africa and Lesotho where she’ll study the effects of apartheid on education. In the fall, she will start a year-long student teaching position, teaching 10th grade English at East Lansing High School.

After student teaching, she plans to utilize her teaching certificates in both English and Spanish by teaching abroad.

"My time here has been really geared towards creating multicultural classrooms and seeing how we can celebrate different types of learning styles and structures,” Feith said. “I want to take that abroad so I can listen more to and learn more from a non-Western perspective.”