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Otterbein congratulates the Class of 2016

Otterbein congratulates the Class of 2016

Otterbein University congratulates the Class of 2016 and is excited to see where their futures will take them.

This year, 478 undergraduates became proud alumni on May 1. The graduates marched into the Rike Center to the music of the Otterbein University Wind Ensemble, where Mark Thresher, chairman of the Otterbein Board of Trustees welcomed the joyful and enthusiastic crowd.

He acknowledged the speakers from the baccalaureate service earlier that morning and spoke directly to the Class of 2016.

“You are now part of a community that never lost sight that we share a responsibility not only for the human experience, caring for your alma mater, Otterbein, and your connection to one another. To value the whole individual as Otterbein does helps us recognize the collective worth of the community. Simply stated, you stand in a world where you make a difference and you will matter,” he said.

Senior Instructor John Kengla offered an invocation focusing on the wholeness of a human being.

“Speaking especially to you, our graduates, become servant leaders. Seek wholeness through your faith, your heart. Seek wholeness for our planet. Seek wholeness with all people. Seek wholeness with the people around you. Seek wholeness with your family. Seek wholeness with yourself,” he said.

President Kathy Krendl introduced Carlie Watson from the Class of 2016 for the annual tradition of a class greeting. Watson submitted a speech, auditioned and was selected to represent her class.

“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,” she said.

“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,” Watson said.

Commencement speaker Donna James was presented an honorary doctorate in public service before presenting her address.

James was named by President Obama as chairwoman of the national Women’s Business Council, a non-partisan advisory council to the President, Congress, and the Small Business Administration, a position she held from October 2010 through June 2013. She is a trusted resource and advisor for business leaders in the public and private sectors, ranging from entrepreneurs to C-suite executives of Fortune 500 companies.

She is the managing director of Lardon & Associates, LLC, where her areas of focus include corporate governance, business development, strategy, human capital management, financial and risk management, and leadership development. Prior to starting her own business, James was president of Nationwide Strategic Investments, and served as the executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Nationwide Mutual and its public company subsidiary, Nationwide Financial. She is the founder and board chair of the Center for Healthy Families, a non-profit focused on transforming the lives of pregnant and parenting teens and their children.

James addressed the Class of 2016 about their future responsibilities — to their communities, their families, and themselves.

“Serving others needs to be part of everything you do, from professional to personal work. Serving is our purpose,” she said.  “You will change everything you do and everything you touch. Go do it Class of 2016, it's yours.”

Before bestowing degrees on the graduates, President Krendl recognized the families, friends and professors there to support them. She also recognized the outstanding members of the Class of 2016 — first generation graduates, veterans and students who completed all Five Cardinal Experiences during their time at Otterbein.

She also encouraged them to keep in touch as alumni.

“We are inspired by hearing your stories — learning of your achievements and understanding the hardships you overcome. Most of all, we rejoice in your personal and professional growth.”

After degrees were conferred, John Stefano, retiring chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, was named an emeritus member of Otterbein’s faculty.

In closing the ceremony, class representatives Carrie Coisman gave the benediction and Lane Conley led the Otterbein Love Song.

After the excitement and celebration of commencement, many graduates started preparing for their new jobs.

From the first class to graduate from Otterbein’s Zoo and Conservation Science program, Macie Smith has been hired by Walt Disney's Animal Kingdom, Meaghan Graver has been hired by the San Diego Zoo and Rachel Dalton will be attending the College of Veterinary Science at The Ohio State University.

Rebecca Schlotter turned a spring internship at Nationwide into a full-time job. Connor Lucas is headed to a position at JP Morgan Chase.

Bobby Moody and Natasha Natraj spent spring semester in New York City doing corporate fitness and both have landed jobs there at NBC and MetLife, respectively. Kyle Maust will start his first teaching job at Gahanna Middle School East next fall.

These are only a few of the success stories from the Class of 2016 — a class that will do great things in the years to come!

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.