Haley Young is a public relations major from Loudonville, Ohio. She has served as a peer mentor and advisor, an orientation leader and orientation coordinator, a Host and Tour guide, a student coordinator in the Center for Student Involvement, communication assistant in the Office of Alumni Relations, and a practicum student in the Communication department. She is a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, Phi Eta Sigma, Torch and Key and Mortar Board honoraries. At Otterbein, Haley has had internship experiences with the Center for Student Success, the Center for Career & Professional Development and the Office of Alumni Relations. She also landed an internship with Denison University's First Year Programs. Haley is also a member of American College Personnel Association and won its Undergraduate Student Leader Award in 2013; and she presented at the OASPA/OCPA conference in January 2014. She was also the recipient of a Cardinal Pride Award at Otterbein.
Good Afternoon President Krendl, faculty, staff, students, family, friends and to the class of 2014.
It seems like just yesterday, we were participating in those awkward icebreakers on the football field during new student week, shaking hands with every single person in the incoming class of 2014. We all realized that it would be impossible to remember the names of every person we introduced ourselves to that evening. But I think we can all agree, that in this moment we were nervous and maybe a bit afraid because this was a fresh start and a new opportunity to be whoever we wanted to be.
And now, we sit in these chairs, with possibly similar feelings to what we had almost four years ago. This moment is what some of us have been waiting for. It’s finally here. But for me, this exact moment is bittersweet. My Otterbein experience has been quite the opposite of what I had planned. I came to Otterbein only focused on receiving that special piece of paper in the end and I can say with confidence that I am graduating with so much more than a degree. I have gained a wonderful Otterbein family filled with many mentors and friends and have been very proud to call this place my home for the past four years.
Otterbein is a place full of friendly and familiar faces. People who say “hi” to you when you walk by them on the sidewalks—even if you have never formally met. A place that allows for you to fully immerse yourself in the college experience, however you choose. A place that truly values and prides itself on serving students and a place that has impacted my life so much, that I will be attending graduate school this coming fall to become a student affairs practitioner, to pay forward the advice and experiences I have received.
People always say to “enjoy your college years because they are the best years of your life” and well, at this point in my life, I have to agree. College is about those simple moments, interactions and experiences that you will always treasure. It’s learning about yourself, trying new things, finding things your passionate about, making lasting memories and developing relationships that last a lifetime. Otterbein has been just that.
But, that’s not to say that we haven’t faced challenges or hardships along the way. Through our majors and unique liberal arts curriculum, we were encouraged to see the world through a different lens. Whether it was through our Western Civilization class or by our involvements throughout campus, we were educated about ideas and values that might not have aligned with our own. A very crucial concept to understand as we will continue to grow and learn about others and different cultures throughout the rest of our lives.
Let’s walk down memory lane, to talk about some of the transitions our class has seen and are the last to experience. First and foremost, we are the first class to enter Otterbein as a university and to graduate from Otterbein as a University (again). If you didn’t already know, Otterbein was founded as a university in 1847 before transitioning to Otterbein College in 1917. We are the last class to have experienced the impact of the construction on the main street bridge. If you took a class in the art and communication building, you probably remember the cardinal cab bus that traveled all the way to County Line, to Cleveland Ave., to Main Street and then eventually to Collegeview. We are the last class to experience quarters…Remember only taking 3 classes at a time and having long breaks after each 10 week period? We successfully made it through the transition! We are the last to remember the large tree that stood in front of Towers Hall which was beautifully lit during the tree lighting ceremony... before it was replaced with a short, fat albert tree. And lastly, our class had the opportunity to be involved with the J-term experience not once, but three times.
Throughout our time at Otterbein, we have been asked, what do you want your Otterbein legacy to be? How do you want people to remember you? Your class? The way I see it, today doesn’t have to be the end of our Otterbein experience. We can still choose to give back and to support our Otterbein community by attending athletic events, homecoming and alumni weekends, serving as guest speakers in classes, working for the university or by contributing in many other ways.
So I ask you now…what is your Otterbein legacy? Because once we receive our diplomas and the ceremony ends…we will walk out onto the football field, the very spot where we all first met, and where our next part of our journey in life begins.