On Friday, June 12, Greer Baxter, Annie Geng and Emily Stevens will address their fellow graduating fourth-year students as part of the annual Class Day celebration. Now in its fourth year, Class Day marks the beginning of Convocation Weekend and will celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2020.
Greer Baxter, creative writing with a minor in theater and performance studies
A writer, performer and songwriter, Greer Baxter has been highly involved with the campus and broader Chicago arts community during her four years in the College. She performed improv and sketch comedy with Off-Off Campus, interned at the Second City and gave a TedX Talk about the nexus of poetry and melody. Baxter’s songwriting has received national attention, and she has collaborated with performers including Broadway singer Mandy Gonzalez, Grammy-award-winning jazz musicians, and has recently been asked to write for other artists including winners of American Idol and The Voice.
“We are sharing a culmination of years together and a hard-earned diploma. But this year we are also sharing in history: coming together for a virtual graduation during a pandemic,” Baxter said. “Even though we can’t turn to each other with smiles or hug each other in celebration, I hope we can feel the love on that virtual ‘stage’ and that we can somehow feel each other’s presence — along with the tears, the laughs, and those shared glances that say: we did it!”
Annie Geng, philosophy
While at UChicago, Annie Geng served as the president of the student fashion organization MODA, wrote for the Chicago Maroon and volunteered as a sexual health educator through Peer Health Exchange. As a philosophy major, Geng sought out opportunities to interrogate and challenge her own beliefs during her time at the College.
“UChicago gave me the language to articulate who I am and what I care about. It taught me how much bigger the world is than me, and that the weight rests upon me to shape its future,” Geng said. “What I have as a Class Day Student Speaker is the very special gratitude for my four years here—a gratitude I can only try my best to give back, to whatever degree, in my Class Day speech.”
“In these anxious times, we need to come together,” she added. “We need to not be paralyzed by the wrongs of our present world, but rather move towards a future that is more equitable, more generous and more just—and it will require us to fight, together, to reach that moment.”
Emily Stevens, English language and literature with a minor in theater and performance studies
As an actor, Emily Stevens was involved with numerous performance groups on campus, including University Theater, Maroon TV, Fire Escape Films and Classical Entertainment Society. They have five regional performance credits, including several in the San Francisco Bay Area. This autumn, they will enroll in an MFA at Rose Bruford College in England to continue to pursue performance studies.
“I wanted to be able to give something back to my classmates who have meant so much to me and made me who I am,” Stevens said. “I want to be able to reach out in the same way that I would in ordinary circumstances, and consequently much of my speech has been preserved from the pre-pandemic draft. These altered conditions are on a time scale of a few years, and hopefully somewhere in that there is impetus for things to change for the better.”