Academic Stories

Class Day kicks off Convocation weekend

Speeches from students, alumna Rebecca Jarvis highlight College’s annual celebration

The University of Chicago’s Class of 2019 celebrated at Class Day tough decisions and the power of friends, family and teachers, chasing a dream in the kitchen, and the gift of asking the right questions.

Friday’s event kicked off Convocation weekend, the annual “calling together” of the University community and its graduating students. Tomorrow thousands will gather for the main Convocation ceremony at 9:15 a.m. on the Main Quadrangles (view webcast here), followed by diploma ceremonies for the College and graduate divisions and schools.

Class Day was focused on those graduating from the College, the University’s undergraduate program. Under a cloudless sky, fourth-year student Anna Li detailed how her UChicago education gave her the confidence to turn down a corporate job offer and pursue her dream of becoming a pastry chef.

Addressing her fellow graduates, Li said UChicago affirmed the need to challenge conventions and expectations in order to realize that sometimes “the hard thing is the right thing.” She was one of three students selected by classmates to speak during the Class Day celebration.

“Going into the kitchen, I might not have had a map, but I had been given the compass, and at UChicago, I forged the tools.” said Li, a sociology major. “UChicago is not a culinary school by any measure, but in teaching me to be courageous and to nurture what I love—whatever that might be—it produced an aspiring chef all the same.”

Award-winning journalist and alumna Rebecca Jarvis, AB’03, delivered the keynote address at Class Day. ABC News’ chief business, technology and economics correspondent, Jarvis shared what she’s learned on her own journey after graduating from UChicago and reminded students that their education “will truly take you anywhere if you let it.”

“You can talk about anything. You have a foundation to attack any problem. You may not have every answer, but you absolutely know the right questions to ask, because of UChicago. Use that gift,” Jarvis said.

Li joined Mary Blair and Katrina Lee in speaking at the student-orchestrated event. Blair, who majored in political science and comparative race and ethnic studies, reminded her classmates that their degrees represent a chance to “make space for others to have the same opportunities.” Lee, a triple major in English language and literature, computer science and mathematics, likened a UChicago education to the city’s winters and thanked friends, teachers and family members for their support.

The ceremony also recognized individual students for their achievements in academics and athletics. John W. Boyer, dean of the College, presented faculty with the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. More than 300 UChicago faculty members have received the awards since they began in 1938.

“The awards have become, and they continue to be, one of the highest honors that the University of Chicago can bestow on members of our faculty who not only excel in their program of research, but play a distinguished role in the formation of our curriculum,” Boyer said.

Li left her fellow classmates with words of encouragement: “We have done the very hard thing of graduating from the University of Chicago. I don’t pretend to know what awaits us beyond this campus, but if UChicago taught me anything, it’s that each of us are more than prepared for the hard things ahead.”

Info on Saturday’s main Convocation ceremony

For information on Saturday’s events, as well as details on transportation, parking and accommodations can be found on the Convocation website. Convocation shuttles can be tracked at Attendees and community members are advised that there will be increased traffic and road closures during this time.

Tickets are not required for the main ceremonies, although they may be required for individual division and school ceremonies. General seating for Convocation will open at 7 a.m. and is available on a first-come basis.

Please note that all bags are subject to inspection before entering the Main Quadrangles. Items that may disrupt other guests from seeing or hearing the ceremony are not permitted inside the Quadrangles.

—This article first appeared on UChicago News.