Sophia Psiakis, who is graduating with a BFA in Acting for Stage, Screen, and New Media and a minor in Musical Theatre, has been selected as the Spring 2023 College of Arts & Letters student commencement speaker.
They applied for the role of commencement speaker after Professor Kirk Domer, who teaches their senior seminar class, encouraged them to do so.
“When I actually got it, it was definitely a moment of shock and a moment of ‘oh, this is exciting,’” said Psiakis, who has decided to avoid any graduation speech stereotypes and clichés. Instead, they envision a speech that balances humor with levity while acknowledging all that the Class of 2023 has been through during their college careers.
“My class is a class that had to go through the most probably, because we were the ones who saw the biggest changes and had the rug ripped out from under us,” Psiakis said. “Whereas other people had at least a few normal years where we didn’t. We have done a lot as a senior class despite this.”
In addition to touching on these struggles, Psiakis also hopes to portray a positive sense of Spartan unity.
“I’m hoping that the audience can take away some pride from it,” they said. “I know everything has been so hard these past few years, but there are people who understand, even if you don’t necessarily think so. There are people who understand what you’re going through and have similar struggles and also similar goals, hopes, and dreams. I want to portray that sense of Spartan unity, and that huge community that’s all over the world, and the feeling of not being alone.”
“I’m hoping that the audience can take away some pride from it…I want to portray that sense of Spartan unity, and that huge community that’s all over the world, and the feeling of not being alone.”
During their time at MSU, Psiakis has performed in a variety of Department of Theatre shows and most recently was an Assistant Director for Charlotte’s Web, which they said has been one of their best experiences in college.
“I love children’s theater and theater for young audiences,” they said. “Charlotte’s Web was such a fantastic experience because there was so much engagement with the kids and community outreach. I love children’s theater that’s able to teach a lesson and get the kids engaged with what’s going on.”
Psiakis also works with the Sense-Ability Ensemble, a touring children’s theatre group that creates shows for neurodiverse kids. Performers write a show then take it around to different special education classrooms in the area.
“It has been such a fantastic experience,” they said. “Just seeing how excited all the kids get when they see our puppets is great. It’s just a great time all around.”
Psiakis also recently attended the Atlanta Film Festival for the premier of a short film they acted in, True Love Waits.
“I need to mention my cat and also Taylor Swift in the speech somehow, so I’m still trying to figure out how to do that. I never really thought this opportunity would happen. I’m excited.”
As commencement draws closer, Psiakis has begun to put the finishing touches on their speech.
“I need to mention my cat and also Taylor Swift in the speech somehow, so I’m still trying to figure out how to do that,” they said. “I never really thought this opportunity would happen. I’m excited.”
The College of Arts & Letters commencement ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, May 7, at 9 a.m. at the Breslin Student Events Center.
After graduation, Psiakis plans to continue acting and is looking forward to accepting a job offer from a children’s theatre in New York.