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Carlie Watson ’16 addresses Commencement with story of growth

Carlie Watson ’16 addresses Commencement with story of growth


Carlie Watson ’16 gave the traditional class greeting at Otterbein Undergraduate Commencement on Sunday, May 1. Watson submitted her speech, auditioned and was selected to represent her class. The following is her speech in its entirety.

"I was told four years ago to embrace uncertainty, change and the unknown.

Picture a small, fearful girl who flew from Seattle, Washington, to come to a school that nobody had ever heard about in Westerville, Ohio. That girl stood helplessly sobbing in the middle of CVS on State Street while her anxious mother held her, and said prayers that her daughter would find peace and a place where she belonged. This timid girl had a couple of options that all of us had going into college: let fear take over, run away and hide, or take a step of faith and simply say yes.

Luckily, this girl made it to First Flight week. She was slightly overwhelmed by the Orientation Leaders’ enthusiasm when playing “I’m a Cardinal, You’re a Cardinal…”

But she couldn’t deny that she was in a place that was safe, extremely welcoming and was already challenging her to live outside of the comfortable box she had built around herself.

She went to classes, got involved in Otterbein Christian Fellowship and Greek Life and quickly started to realize that the act that she had tried to keep up throughout her life was being melted off. This place called Otterbein University was helping her discover who she really was. She was learning from the incredible people surrounding her that the part of life that used be unknown, had now become the most fulfilling, crazy, and authentic experience.

This once fearful, timid girl is standing before you, beyond thankful that she didn’t run away but that she decided to say yes to Otterbein.

I know that anyone of my classmates could stand here and describe the moment they decided to take a risk and say yes as well. We all said yes to uncertainty, to change and to the unknown. And look where we are now — about to be faced with the same couple of options that we had four years ago. We can let fear take over and run away and hide, or we can take a step of faith and say yes again, to another beautiful adventure that awaits us.

This next part of our lives may involve the most risk any of us have ever experienced, but let’s take a minute together to think about how the risk of saying yes to spending four years at this university has equipped us for what lies ahead.

Most likely there have been seasons of abundant joy and extreme difficulties. Perhaps there have been times of challenge and wishing you hadn’t scheduled an 8 a.m. class spring semester of your senior year.

No matter the circumstances along the way, I believe that it’s been in this cozy corner we call Otterbein University, that we have been provided with the opportunity to explore who we are, what we’ve become and to let whatever the past has held launch us into a better future.

What nobody told me four years ago, though, was that the best was yet to come.

I had to experience my time at Otterbein to believe it.

With the risks, the adventures, the simple yeses that lie right in front of us, I want to remind you, that the best is yet to come.

In this season — this time — that is terrifying yet freeing, remember the best is yet to come.

When you’re saying goodbye to friends who are continuing their adventures elsewhere, remember they are now lifelong friends and that the best is yet to come.

Even though it’s hard to look beyond the amazing memories and growth that Otterbein has provided for us and believe that it could ever get better, I believe that the best is yet to come.

I believe this because just four years ago, stood this fearful, timid Seattle girl, who doubted that anything good could come from leaving home and going to Otterbein.

But now I believe all of us stand here, agreeing that so much good has come from this place: a place of growth, of being loved, of unbreakable friendships and wisdom that will never escape us.

As intimidating as the future seems right now, we’ve all experienced that what was once unfamiliar years ago, has now prepared our hearts to embrace the uncertainty, change and the unknown in the journey that lies ahead of us.

I have to congratulate all of you who are graduating for taking a leap of faith and saying yes to the next adventure. You are going to impact, inspire, lead and love in ways that I cannot wait to see and personally grow from.

So, on behalf of the class of 2016, thank you to every family member and loved one who encouraged and supported us in saying yes to this adventure. And thank you Otterbein University, from the bottom of our hearts, for this life changing experience that none of us can imagine our lives without."


Find out what the class of 2016 will miss most about Otterbein in our video from Commencement.

See more photos from Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement on our Flickr page.