Good Afternoon and welcome to the commencement ceremony of the class of 2012! We would like to thank everyone for attending today. A special thank you also to our family, friends and faculty for traveling this journey with us, guiding us and being patient as we’ve grown and developed into the adults that we are today. I personally want to thank my family for sticking with me as I changed my major again…and again…..and again. I finally figured it out!
I didn’t have what many call the “traditional college” experience. I never lived on campus; I commuted and I worked full time, but I don’t believe I have been impacted any less than a traditional student. Otterbein has taught me many valuable lessons that I will carry with me throughout my life. I graduated high school as an A+ student. Everything came easy and I came into college thinking it would be a breeze. Man I was wrong! For the first time I struggled with academics. I remember having an integrative studies class my first year where we had a book report due. I read the book, wrote the paper, maybe glanced at a few spark notes, nevertheless I thought I nailed it. Well… I didn’t nail it.
My grade was horrible and I felt not-so-intelligent for the first time. Little did I know I would feel that way many more times in my college career.
I learned to be strong. Not to feel discouraged. I developed a confidence that I can persevere through all situations and to never feel weak or inadequate. I also developed courage. I love to talk, I’ll talk to anyone all day, everyday. But when it came to asking for help I never spoke up. I’m not shy, maybe it’s pride or just the fear of doing something that I wasn’t in the routine of doing, but I did learn to ask for help and to utilize my resources that are available. In doing so I realized that advisors really do help. It took me almost three years to meet with my advisor, once I did so things started to fall in place for me. I started to branch out and visit math labs, request tutors and visit my professors during office hours. This has helped me so much. Now I will ask a million questions with no problem, no shame and I thank Otterbein for that.
Determination is a big one for me. I had to be determined to find the major that suited me best. Anyone who knows me knows that I am one of the clumsiest people EVER. This is a fact, so while I was falling and twisting one thing, pulling another, straining a tendon or breaking a bone, I had to be determined to understand my course work, to pass my classes and to apply what I learned to my everyday life no matter how hard it was. I’m going to try really hard not to fall today by the way. I am determined to not let my education go to waste. I’ve been determined this last year to graduate, to be better than before, and to make my family proud.
Last, I have passion. I finally have something I’m passionate about. It took me a while jumping from major to major to actually find something that I absolutely love to do. I wanted to find something that didn’t feel like “work”. Many people live day-to-day working to pay the bills and not finding the thing that makes us most happy and turning it into a career. I want to love living life by living my passion. I found my passion here at Otterbein University and I am looking forward to living it every single day. Live, love, laugh. I encourage you all to be passionate. Do what ever it is that you love. Don’t be limited. If you believe it you can achieve it. That might be a little cliché, but it’s true.
Be strong, be courageous, and be determined. I want to congratulate all the graduates today on your success. I wish you the best of luck in your future.
Cassandra Thomas is a sociology major and commuter student. She has served as guest speaker for a local Youth to Youth conference, the National Honor Society conference, and the Occupy Teach-In at Otterbein. She has worked for nearly six years at JP Morgan Chase as an operations specialist and a retail financial banker.