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What’s Next? Longy’s Class of 2024 Shares Their Post-Commencement Plans

By May 23, 2024News

Thursday, May 23, 2024 

When the class of 2024 turned their tassels at last week’s commencement ceremony, it was a joyous moment of celebration. Since becoming Longy graduates, these students have begun to turn towards something else: their futures.  

What’s next for Longy’s newest alumni? Several are ready to pursue advanced degrees, while others are beginning full-time positions. Some graduates are taking time off to consider their next steps while devoting more time to writing or playing music.  

Wherever their musical expertise takes them, Longy wishes the class of 2024 the best of luck in their endeavors. Read on to discover where some of this year’s graduates are headed next. 


 Sam Cerra (MM24, Percussion) cherishes his responsibility as a musician to spread joy and create a space for vulnerability.

Sam Cerra

My goal as a musician and artist is to share emotions through music and create a little spark in everyone’s heart. I like the idea of sharing my stories with the world through ‘music painting,’ where lines and colors are replaced by notes and chords.” 

Since he credits his time at Longy with allowing him to develop as an artist and think critically about what kind of music he wants to make, Sam will return to the conservatory to pursue his Graduate Performance Diploma (GPD) in Jazz & Contemporary Music. 

“I think it’s the perfect place to keep shaping my artistry.”

Until graduate classes begin in the fall semester, Sam will keep busy with music-making, live performances, and dabbling in teaching. 

“This summer, I have some [performances] in Italy in a couple of jazz festivals and some recording sessions to do. I am also about to publish two albums of original music; besides that, I want to focus on designing some jazz courses and ‘practice teaching’ one or some of them. A busy summer, but I am very excited about it!” 


Mark Perez’s (MM24, Trumpet) two years at Longy prepared him to serve as a brass faculty member at the Community Music Center of Boston (CMCB).

Mark Perez

“Longy has taught me many skills that are essential for the modern-day music environment. Professors have taught me how to be efficient in my personal preparations, multiple approaches to pedagogy outside of the classroom, and how to ‘get the gig’.” 

After commencement, he will continue to provide music instruction across the Boston Public Schools, advancing into a new role with the CMCB as a Winds, Brass, Percussion, and Ensemble studio department chair. He will also gain experience teaching out-of-state.    

“I will also be teaching in North Carolina this summer at the Governor’s School of North Carolina West Campus at Greensborough College. There, I will serve as the brass faculty member, with a focus on contemporary music!”   

While Mark is excited about the next chapter, he will miss spending time with the Longy community, which has become family to him.

 “Honestly, [I will miss] the friends that I got to see every day. It sounds cheeky, but the idea that I won’t be able to see these folks as consistently anymore does make my heart ache a bit.” 


Elise Hill (MM 24, Saxophone) eagerly accepted every opportunity for growth that arose during her Longy career.

Elise Hill

Besides forming her own duo, Two Toes Tiger, with fellow graduate Liza Knight, she also held a leadership position within Longy’s Black Student Union, participated in Longy’s new music groups like Uncaged Ensemble, and performed with faculty members and peers often. 

“I like playing with other people as much as possible. I’ve worked on establishing groups with other students, commissioning works, and doing some jazz work with Bill Banfield and the Imagine Orchestra.” 

As Elise finishes her Master of Music in saxophone, she is preparing to pursue her Doctor of Musical Arts at Boston University in the fall, expanding on the collaborative and instrumental skills she honed at Longy.  

“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Longy. I think it’s a really great place to be.”


Since studying at Longy, Sydney Pérez (MM 24, Vocal Studies) has centered authenticity in her art.

Sydney Pérez

“I was very afraid of ‘I’ statements when I first came to Longy. I was trying to be very detached and professional. Longy really brought me away from that place and brought me to an artist statement that was a lot more personal and true.” 

In remaining true to herself and her multi-faceted musicianship, she will pursue multiple interests this fall—interests fostered at Longy. 

“I’m moving to the New York City area in the fall and will continue my work as a teaching artist.” 

Beyond teaching, she will continue to seek out performance opportunities whenever possible. 

“I’m also going to be auditioning for local opera programs. I’m doing my first international audition season this fall, including continuing to audition for opera young artist programs in America.” 

Although she will leave the Cambridge area, she intends to return as much as possible for opera work. 

“I’m going to be coming back to Boston really frequently, hopefully continuing as a collaborator with the NEMPAC Opera project. I’m also on the Boston Lyric Opera Chorus roster, so whenever the opportunity arises, I’ll be back for productions and professional opportunities.” 

She advises incoming Longy students not to shy away from art that is as honest and vulnerable as possible. 

“What comes naturally to your soul when you want to make art is exactly what you’re supposed to make and give. There is no better place to do exactly that than at Longy.” 


As a student in Longy’s Master of Music in Music Education program, Shaina Perates (MM/ME 24, Voice) learned how to make each student feel valued and heard in the classroom.

Shaina Perates

“A big part of my philosophy that I developed at Longy is figuring out ways to build those connections with students and make them feel like they’re not just a pebble in the sand.” 

She credits her experience student-teaching, where she taught a chorus of 100 middle school students, with preparing her for the unique challenges and joys of teaching in a public school. In her compact, ten-month program, each student was efficiently and effectively prepared to be the best educator possible. 

“There wasn’t any busy work. Everything had a purpose. Every single thing that I learned was meant to make me a better teacher.” 

Shaina feels that she is leaving Longy a stronger, more perceptive teacher than when she enrolled—so much so that she is certain that she wants to branch out and pursue teaching in a public school after working in private schools.  

“I plan on teaching general music and chorus in a public school setting; I have some interviews lined up. There’s a job opening in the district that I was student teaching in, and I’m hoping to get it because I grew close to all the teachers and administration there.” 

As Shaina awaits decisions from the schools she interviewed with, she is growing excited to soon serve as an enthusiastic, imperfect educator to her students. She credits Longy with helping her grow comfortable with being human in the classroom—a lesson she recommends all future teachers embrace. 

“If you make a mistake, just own it. It goes a long way because you learn from your mistakes.”