Holly Bruner is a speech and organizational communication major with a minor in leadership studies. A native of Greenville, Ohio, Holly has served as a residence hall coordinator, resident assistant, Summer Conference assistant and on the Residence Life Leadership Council. She was a member of the Campus Activities Board (formerly the Campus Programming Board) for four years and served as the organizations president, vice president and special events coordinator as a senior, junior and sophomore, respectively. She was a Host and Tour guide, a peer mentor, student advisor and student senator. She was a member of several honoraries including Mortar Board, Alpha Lambda Delta, Lambda Pi Eta and Torch and Key.
Nothing we see is as it once was. This is what a tour guide shared as my Senior Year Experience classmates and I walked through the British History Museum and stood before a stone wall of an ancient Egyptian tomb. I didn’t get quite what she meant for a few seconds. She went on to say that the Egyptians had painted these walls rather elaborately, but all the colors had faded and the paint chipped away, leaving us with what we have today: intricate carvings but absolutely no colorful embellishments.
Nothing we see is as it once was, even here at Otterbein. Our class knows this all too well. Gone are the days of the quarter system and a ten week Winter break. Here are the days of 15 week semesters. We, the graduating class of 2014, are the first to have spent four years at Otterbein University rather than Otterbein College. Come to think of it, I only own one article of clothing that says Otterbein College which I purchased at my first and only visit to campus. In that short tour—like many of you, I knew Otterbein was my home. I still have that shirt too. I like to call it vintage Otterbein.
No amount of preservation can keep change from occurring. While nothing we see is as it once was, our memories will hold true to what we have come to know about ourselves and Otterbein. Days spent walking to and from classes with the sun shining so brightly on Towers you cannot help but pause to take a picture or walks so cold it feels like a five mile trek from the Rike to Roush. Nights spent laughing with friends, feeling as if graduation would never get here, and when it does, nights spent in a little bit of denial instead. The next time we return, there will be a class of students we don’t know and parts of campus we might not recognize. We can now be those sophisticated alumni who tell the tales of our Otterbein. Maybe even spark a false fact or two. My favorite one will always be: if you get hit by a car at the cross walk, you will get free
To understand the engravings, I look back on my own four years at Otterbein. Coming in I was introverted, fully dedicated to my studies and not much else. As a first generation college student, I had many false impressions about what college was. I came off a bit stuck up and unfriendly. Nothing is as it once was, including myself. I learned that while classes are important, you need to get out and explore undiscovered passions. I became an RA, joined the Campus Activities Board, and found out that I truly am a people person. I went from being a girl that never left the United States, to the eager tourist watching her passport get stamped as she traveled to England. I am sure that many of you can look back at your first year selves and chuckle. We thought we had it all planned out but it really took us until our senior year to realize that we aren’t the young adults we thought we would be; we’re better.
Because of our time here at Otterbein we now know more and have worked harder than we had ever thought possible and grown from that process. We are no longer the timid first years, the stressed sophomores, the comfortable juniors, or even the determined seniors. We are about to be graduates. So I say to you, esteemed staff, faculty, family, and friends-- thank you. Through your guidance and support, you have fostered not only the academic growth of the class of 2014, but personal transformations as well. We are fortunate to have you here, sharing this day with us.
Nothing is as it once was, but that isn’t a bad thing. Like the Egyptian carvings, Otterbein has been intricately imprinted into the journey of our lives. Whether we found ourselves here on a whim or with a bounty of planning, here we are. In some senses, we are the colors of this engraving. A touch of finesse and vibrance that brings the picture, or in this case campus, to life. We will leave and the colors might chip away, but we can always go back to those carvings to understand Otterbein and the students at the very core. A place for caring, dedicated, innovative students who are transformed into leaders, critical thinkers, and engaged citizens. The most important lesson is that even as the times change and the colors fade, our experiences at Otterbein hold steadfastly true to what was and will always be. And for the record, I think that is one heck of a masterpiece.