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Leondra James

Leondra JamesGood afternoon to Dr. Krendl, the Board of Trustees, Otterbein faculty and administration, friends and family. Last and not least, good afternoon and welcome graduates of 2013 to your Commencement. It's an honor to be here in front of you this great afternoon; perhaps the mos tcherished day of our lives Clearly, this is no ordinary afternoon.

Today is extraordinary For some of us, today was always part of the agenda - to become part of elite members of society. For others, today may be something you never thought you'd actually But one thing remains true: We all Woke up this morning and We all knew that today was extraordinary. Today meant something deeply special to all of us. Why else would you drag your family to sit for 4 hours? We are united; in that for years, We Woke up and we beat the Towers’ hourly tune to class We pulled all-nighters We've survived a tsunami of emails pertaining to Black Board maintenance We witnessed the evolution and eventual distinction of the maroon Otterbein security vehicles to the Otterbein Police cruisers, protecting our campus. We survived the imminent end of the world just last semester, December 2012. Class of 2013, we've seen it all, we've done it all, and we are doing it. We all woke up today, put on our cap and gown, and gathered at the Rike. Today, we will always remember that we accomplished something great.

l'd like for you to take a moment reflection, and imagine what it took for you to make it to this fine day. Was it ambition? Courage? Endurance? Persistence, maybe? Or perhaps it was just lots of coffee? For me, it was the simple thought of doing something great l once had a violin teacher, who told me that playing violin is easy, and that he would let me in on the secret. I listened as if waiting for a cheat code to the game of violin pedagogy Then he simply told me, "You just do it, or don't do it." Of course l was bummed, and I went on to become a music major and suffer painful hours of practicing like everyone else. Then I came to realize, my mother always told me that l could do whatever I wanted, and what I wanted, was to play violin and someday supervise cinematic orchestras. This wasn't advice that most mothers didn't give their children, and it wasn’t an unlocked secret to life, like some XBOX achievement. In fact, I had a chess coach who told me "There is no such thing as secrets. There’s only knowledge."

I took that knowledge, and the advice of some of my life coaches, and it's the reason I picked up the violin 13 years ago. It's the reason Otterbein granted me scholarships on my academic and  creative talents. It's why I drove 30 miles every day to get to school, in order to participate in one of Otterbein's most demanding majors - Music and Business. Believing in myself was enough to give me the confidence to pursue a career in music supervision for video games and film, and it allowed me to become the principle second violinist of the orchestra my sophomore year. Believing in myself kept me up all those nights to complete an assignment when the bed was practically calling my name. Believing in myself landed me on the Dean's List when l didn't have a bed to lay my head on. Achieving a 3.8 wasn't easy when you’re studying for Music History, the notorious music major course, in your car in the winter. Last, but not least, believing in myself got me accepted by Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Industry Management graduate program.

Being homeless the fall semester of my senior year was a challenge, but as Beethoven would say, "It did not bend or break me". I simply educated myself, believed in myself and "did it." So I am here to say can the odds really be against us? Not if you don't stop believing, as Journey might say.

So you've received an education and you believe in yourself Now what? It's time to go out there and do it, right? After all, one does not simply "do it," do they? Class of 2013, success is never easy, but it is very simple - you either do it or don't do it. Should you choose to make music in this world, do not aim for the stars because with doing so, you are limiting yourself as Buzz would say, "To infinity and beyond."

And to infinity we will go. Class of 2013! My fellow classmates, students, scholars, congratulations for this moment. Congratulations on receiving an education from this fine institution, Otterbein University. Never stop believing and never settle for the stars. We have no limits. We know it because we did it and we're doing it. No one can tell you how to get there, but when you consciously decide to do it, it will be extraordinary.

Leondra James is a Music and Business major with a concentration in Music Management and a minor in Business Administration. On campus she has been a member of the Otterbein Orchestra (principle second violin), the Otterbein String Quartet and the Westerville Symphony at Otterbein. She has served as vice president of projects and music management for the Music Entertainment Industry Student Association, the music and promotions director and on-air talent for Otterbein's student radio station, WOBN-FM, and as a mentor with Otterbein's Ubuntu program. Off campus, she has held a variety of positions with several music promotion agencies including Inspire Expire, Sumerian Records, The Syndicate, Prime Social Group and PromoWest Productions.