Meet the Class of 2024

Students standing onstage with their diplomas.

The second movement in the symphony of life is just beginning for Merit School of Music’s Conservatory Class of 2024.

On Sunday, April 21, 59 talented graduates received their diplomas from Merit’s Alice S. Pfaelzer Conservatory, representing the highest level of achievement at Merit. Together, we celebrated their journey, their accomplishments, and the limitless potential they bring to the world of music and beyond.

This year’s graduating class is nothing short of exceptional—future engineers, professional musicians, teachers, doctors, and leaders of all kinds. No matter what their future holds, all 59 grads will take the skills and experiences learned through a deep, intensive music education with them along the way.

Meet a few of this year’s outstanding graduates and learn what they plan to do next.

Quick Stats on the Class of 2024

Graduate Spotlights

Kate Chavez holding a diploma and flowers.

Kate Chavez

  • Instruments: Violin
  • Years at Merit: 12
  • College/University: Northwestern University
  • Major: Chemistry
  • Do you think studying music has changed you as a person? If so, how? I am not the best musician, but I do love playing. Music has helped me develop practical and predictable skills such as time management and the importance of hard work. Music has also taught me how to improve upon myself, it has become an outlet for me to manage my stress, it has helped me appreciate others, and music has taught me how something can change from being a chore to something that I do when I need a pick-me-up.

Nicholas Cipi

  • Instruments: Piano, Guitar
  • Years at Merit: 6
  • College/University: University of Chicago
  • Major: Molecular Engineering, Music
  • Do you think studying music has changed you as a person? If so, how? Spending as much time as I have interpreting works by a range of composers, I have felt myself grow more physically in touch with the emotional content behind the written notes. Furthermore, I find the endeavor of creating music to be a powerful tool to help me understand myself. There is something to be said about the purity and strength of expression that stems from physically imparting one’s intentions onto art. In my experience, this has been best realized during performance, in the rare and precious instances when instinct meets self-awareness. In such moments, giving physical form to my own emotions and ideas is intensely gratifying, rewarding me with a great sense of purpose.
Lucy Forde holding a diploma.

Lucy Forde

  • Instruments: Bass Clarinet
  • Years at Merit: 3
  • Major: Environmental Science, Music
  • Do you think studying music has changed you as a person? If so, how? My favorite part about attending Merit is the diversity of skill and background that you don’t get in your high school band. Everyone comes from different cultures, towns, economic statuses, skill levels, families, and sometimes even states. This is what makes it so magical. People coming together for the sole reason that they love to make music and want to pursue it outside of day-to-day school creates an environment of passion, acceptance, and growth.
Emaryona Codjoe being handed her diploma by Charlie Grode and shaking his hand.

Emaryona Codjoe

  • Instruments: Trombone
  • Years at Merit: 2
  • College/University: University of Illinois Chicago
  • Major: Architecture
  • Do you think studying music has changed you as a person? If so, how? Studying music has changed my life since I started playing trombone at 10 years old. Over the past eight years, I’ve loved learning more about my instrument and becoming a very musical person.
Yaretzi Lizama being handed her diploma by Charlie Grode

Yaretzi Lizama

  • Instruments: Voice
  • Years at Merit: 4
  • College/University: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Major: Vocal Performance, Music Business
  • Do you think studying music has changed you as a person? If so, how? Music has completely changed my life. It’s a form of expression that has always helped me when struggling, and because of that music will always be my life.
  •  
Nora Zhou holding a diploma onstage.

Nora Zhou

  • Instruments: Violin
  • Years at Merit: 8
  • College/University: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Major: Neuroscience
  • What’s your advice for younger Merit students? Realize you’re incredibly lucky to have these opportunities (Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Enrique Mazzola and Michael Black really put this into perspective). Education, especially in the arts, is such a privilege that many around the world would do anything to have. Those precious moments during a performance or rehearsal only last for a moment. The relationships you build as a student may only be temporary, but make the most of every opportunity you’ve been given to learn and connect with others!

Share This Post

More To Explore

Students standing onstage with their diplomas.

Meet the Class of 2024

The second movement in the symphony of life is just beginning for Merit School of Music’s Conservatory Class of 2024. On Sunday, April 21, 59 talented graduates received their diplomas

Read More »
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.