Theatre and Management major Jason Dernay, who is graduating this spring, is this year’s recipient of the Alumni Award for Undergraduate Excellence, which is presented each year to a high-achieving graduating senior in the College of Arts & Letters.
“I was surprised and honored,” Dernay said, “but very thankful for the committee and the College of Arts & Letters for their recognition and support.”
After graduating from high school, Dernay wanted to pursue performance and work with nonprofits, so he decided that Theatre and Management were the best options for each of his interests.
“My education at MSU has been largely focused on individual pathways and experiences,” he said. “This allowed me to specialize and focus on my own interests and expertise but often made me solely responsible for creating my opportunities. Whenever I did follow my own path, MSU has been very supportive and helpful in pursuing my intentions.”
My education at MSU has been largely focused on individual pathways and experiences…Whenever I did follow my own path, MSU has been very supportive and helpful in pursuing my intentions.
Right before in-person classes were suspended last spring, Dernay was able to participate in a study away trip to Chicago.
“For the week, Sarah Hendrickson and Laura Scales (both Academic Specialist in the Department of Theatre) set-up workshops, classes, Q&As, networking events, professional viewings, and more for us to participate in,” Dernay said. “In addition, the students were given free time to explore and focus on their individual needs and careers within the city.”
COVID may not have directly affected his time in Chicago, however, it did affect some of his other college experiences.
“My Theatre major relies heavily on interactions with others, audiences, and mass gatherings, so a significant part of coursework, extracurriculars, departmental work, and career activities were definitely impacted,” Dernay said. “Although I wasn’t able to have all the experiences I expected, many of my classes and activities worked incredibly hard to accommodate the overwhelming changes.”
One of the highlights from his Theatre courses came in his Contemporary Acting (THR 301) class taught by Professor Rob Roznowski. The class centered around self-reflection and self-improvement, which helped Dernay understand who he was professionally and what he enjoyed about the theatre profession.
“It helped me understand myself, what I have to offer, how I work, and how to separate my worth from my work,” Derney said.
Thank you MSU for all of your support, I am proud to be alumni. I am very excited to see where I and all my peers end up.
Dernay’s post-graduation plans include moving to Los Angeles County to continue his artistic endeavors.
“If you want to be a performer or involved in the theatre, find what parts you enjoy about it, whether it be a specific medium, the preparation, the performance, or anything else, look at that and see what opportunities best fill that aspect,” Dernay said. “Additionally, your passion is a career, it’s unreasonable to expect yourself to always be enthusiastic, never get tired, or love every moment. Your life and your worth stand on their own even when performance plays a very large part of it. Don’t be afraid to explore the unfamiliar but follow the yeses.”
“Thank you MSU for all of your support, I am proud to be alumni. I am very excited to see where I and all my peers end up.”