English Major Selected as Commencement Speaker

English major Kelsey Wiley has been selected as the student speaker for the spring 2017 College of Arts & Letters commencement ceremony, which is Sunday, May 7, at 9:30 a.m. at the Breslin Center.

Wiley will graduate with a near-perfect GPA of 3.91, a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Education, and a minor in French.

“I value the people I have met in the College of Arts & Letters,” she said. “I have learned from faculty who have challenged me and supported me through my learning, and I’m inspired by classmates every day.”

From Canton, Michigan, Wiley was chosen from a group of students who applied to be the student commencement speaker. She also had to go through an interview process. As the student commencement speaker, she will represent the graduating class and inspire her peers as they move on from Michigan State University.

“I am just really honored that I can represent the College itself,” Wiley said. “To be picked is phenomenal and very unexpected. In a school this big, you can feel that you are unknown, so this is an opportunity to be known and to make my experience known.”

3 women and 2 men posing for a picture in business attire
Kelsey Wiley (left) with faculty and students at the National Council of Teachers of English conference. Photo credit: Dr. Emery Petchauer 

Her seven- to nine-minute speech will focus on reflection, resilience, and moving forward.

“We should always celebrate our accomplishments, but we also need to look back at the struggles that we endured and what we can learn from that struggle, and then we must always think in the present and where we will go in the future,” she said.

During her time at MSU, Wiley participated in a study abroad trip to Tours, France, where she studied at the University of Touraine for seven weeks during the summer of 2015. She also was President of Sigma Tau Delta Honor’s English Society, Vice President of MSU Students for Choice, and a member of both Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education and the National Council of Teachers of English Student Affiliate. She has volunteered for Upward Bound, The Listening Ear, and Read to Succeed.

I have learned from faculty who have challenged me and supported me through my learning, and I’m inspired by classmates ever day.

What Wiley says she values the most from her time at MSU is “the community.”

“With the English Department especially, I had such a close group of people,” she said. “We all had classes together, we’ve moved up together, and we have seen each other grow. There has just been so much support from one another.”

That support really became clear when Wiley’s father passed away unexpectedly this past year.

“I didn’t think I would be able to come back here. I didn’t think I could handle it, but as soon as I got back, the support that they offered just made it so much easier to come back and resume, despite the tragedy,” she said. “I value the community I have here the most.”

Currently, Wiley assists with AP Literature and English classes at Haslett High School. Previously, she aided a seventh grade English classroom at Waverly Middle School and served as a classroom assistant at Wexford Montessori in Lansing, Michigan.

“I work with 12th graders at Haslett and I just love upperclassmen as sassy as they can be,” she said. “I really like the conversation that we can have. We can talk about serious topics, we can talk about social justice, we can talk about identity. They’re at a very special moment where they are about to figure out who they are going to be and where they are going to go. I just love that age group, and I like the material. I like teaching more difficult pieces and finding our way to tackle difficult texts and seeing the growth the students make not just in their learning but in themselves.”

In a school this big, you can feel that you are unknown, so this is an opportunity to make my experience known.

This past November, Wiley presented her work on revealing linguistic prejudice in the classroom at the 2016 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

“The NCTE annual convention was the first national conference I had ever attended, and it was a tremendous honor to be selected as a presenter,” she said. “It also was incredible to be around so many educators who want to make their classrooms a space where students feel valued.”

Following graduation, Wiley will student teach 11th and and 12th grade at North Farmington High School.