Sunday, April 23 was a celebration at Merit School of Music as we recognized the incredible successes of the Alice S. Pfaelzer Conservatory Class of 2023. Merit’s graduation ceremony is always such a special annual event, and this year was one not to miss. Alongside family, friends, faculty, and supporters, 39 Conservatory seniors walked across the stage in Gottlieb Hall to receive the honor and recognition they so rightly deserve.
Students in this year’s graduating class spent an average of five years studying at Merit. One student can even boast a celebrated tenure of 15 years—almost his entire life! Because students dedicate so much of their youth to Merit, graduation always comes with a mix of emotions where we rejoice in accomplishments but also know that the next stage for our students takes them further away from the place they have called home for so long.
As graduate Hannah Gill explains, “Merit has really been one of the greatest parts of my teenage years. It feels like my home. I think things would be very different for me if I hadn’t found Merit. I’m very thankful that it’s here.” While we may need to say goodbye for now, we know we can look forward to the influx of alumni that pop up in the hallways on Saturdays during college breaks in the following years!
During this year’s ceremony, Merit welcomed back Conservatory alumnus and internationally recognized force in the diversity and inclusion space, Dr. Derrick Gay, to address the graduates and offer advice as they step forward into adulthood. As he reflected upon his time at Merit, he impressed upon the seniors that the community they have built amongst one another will serve them beyond their graduation and encouraged them to cherish and celebrate that their Merit friendships will last for life. Dr. Gay even graced the audience with a beautifully moving performance of the first “serious” work he learned while at Merit, Giuseppe Giordani’s Caro Mio Ben.
Our graduates this year are beyond impressive in their accomplishments. They have been accepted to 75 different colleges including Northwestern, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, USC, Yale, and many more! Due in part to the support and life skills learned while at Merit, 21% will be the first in their family to attend college. We could not be prouder of this year’s graduates and their accomplishments, and we will be cheering them on as we watch their successes grow and blossom throughout their lives.
Watch the full ceremony on our YouTube channel.