If you would have told me a year ago that we would be celebrating graduation online with the actual ceremony taking place in October at Homecoming and not over Mother’s Day, I would have laughed and called you crazy. But isn’t it amazing
that we will have the opportunity to celebrate something as remarkable and amazing as graduation, even six months later? I clearly remember the morning I woke up and saw that graduation was postponed. I was crushed. I wasn’t upset because
the ceremony somehow signified the completion of my studies. I was sad that I couldn’t walk across the stage to shake the President's hand. I was crushed that I couldn’t take graduation photos with the professor who changed my life.
But mostly I just wanted to celebrate such an important moment with the people who I started this journey with. In the midst of my crying I was reminded of words from the poet Khalil Gibran. He said that “our anxiety does not come from
thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.” Sometimes you have to surrender what you want. But, in that surrender something even greater comes to you.
Dr. Carstens once asked me if when I first came to Ohio Dominican I thought I would have done as well as I had or do as much as I did. I began to reminisce on what an amazing time I had at Ohio Dominican University. When I first came to Ohio Dominican
it felt like home. Both of my parents attended Ohio Dominican, and my sister was only a year ahead of me. I felt like I was somehow in a shadow and I needed to prove myself. But, at the time I was a quiet and shy kid. Which, if you know me
now you’ll find that very difficult to believe. I sat in the back row of classes and did not raise my hand. But I remember the first day of classes the spring semester of freshman year. If was my first class in my major with Dr. Carstens.
With one piece of advice my life radically changed, and I’ll forever be grateful and indebted to him for it. He came in and said that college was the last place to make mistakes with abandon. I had never before heard somebody say to
me, to say it’s ok to make mistakes because these mistakes help you to grow. I was, and admittedly still am, a perfectionist, which anybody who knows me will quickly agree with. However, it was the very next day I learned what he truly
meant. The mistakes we make during our time as students teach us.
When I first came to ODU I was unsure of who I was or what I wanted to be. I had auditioned and been accepted to study at a music conservatory, but last minute decided to study political science. When I made that decision, I made it because I
was unsure of myself. But I didn’t have the dreams I have today. I would never have thought it possible to accomplish half of the things I did at ODU. I once texted my father and said, “Hey Jimmie can I go to Rome for Holy Week?”
My father responded quickly saying “of course you can.” I am rather sure he thought it was some kind of joke, because there was no way his introverted kid was going to Europe by herself with a group of people she didn’t know.
But, I did. On this trip I made new friends, who will be with me a lifetime. But more importantly I learned a lesson. I learned how to leave my comfort zone. When I look back at my time at Ohio Dominican University, I find it remarkable. I
am not the girl I came here as; I am surer of myself, I am far more responsible, and most importantly I know how to make mistakes and learn from them. I would not have thought it possible to accomplish any of the things I have when I first
came to Ohio Dominican. But I will forever be grateful that the faculty and staff here saw my potential and helped me along the way.
It is here to 1216 Sunbury Rd where we, no matter the distance, will always return. It is here where we made memories, the good and the bad, that strengthened us. And, It is here where we cried and laughed and grew up. ODU is forever embedded
into all of us. Now we go out into the world and begin the next chapter of our lives. But I promise you this, I will never forget my time here, or the friends I’ve made, and especially the family I’ve gained. I hope in fifty years
when you look back on the years you spent here you smile fondly and say, “wow those were the good old days.” Let’s leave here today proud to be panthers, knowing it is forever a part of us, and accepting our mistakes for
what they are, learning opportunities. Ohio Dominican class of 2020 I’m glad to have shared the happiest moments of my life with all of you.
I do not think any of us envisioned 2020 to be as wild of an adventure as it has been. We have had to overcome obstacles that a year ago we never would have anticipated. Yet, through all the challenges and heartache we all made it. I never would
have imagined having May 9th be anything out of the ordinary. I dreamed of this day for the last five years. I am a third-generation graduate of Ohio Dominican, but more importantly today was the day my sister and I would both graduated together.
Although these changes do not take away what any of us have done it is a bitter-sweet moment. During times of challenge and adversity I am reminded to live by one of my favorite Disney quotes, “have courage and be kind.”
This is much easier said than done especially right now, but it can help everyone one of us achieve happier lives. As we venture into the new world we must have courage. We must be brave as we apply for new positions, move to new locations, start
families, or any other goal we have. Nothing will come easy, but we need to remember to preserve and have the courage to keep going. Remember this moment. A time surrounded by your loved ones or friends you have grown close with, whether they
are near or far. Regardless if they are with you now or celebrating from afar remember this moment and the sense of community we all feel going through these difficult times together. Use this as a subtle reminder of your courage. We all came
to this school for a reason and we had no idea what to expect. We were all brave then and we must maintain our courage as we venture into this new journey. This is also a reminder to focus on the work we have done and to have courage in all
we do. Right now we need courage in many different ways, but we need to remind ourselves all the challenges we have previously faced.
The second part of the quote to “be kind” is probably the harder of the two. It is much easier to let the hard days get the better of us and allow ourselves to be overcome with emotions. However, we must remember everyone has bad days,
everyone had hard weeks or even years, but everyone needs kindness. It makes days easier, lives happier, and experiences more enjoyable. Just think of this, if you give one small act of kindness to another person, a smile, a compliment, or
even a head nod, on your next bad day they may show you an act of kindness too and help brighten your day. Kindness is free, but it gives so much joy to yourself and others. I know how hard it can be to remember to be kind. There are times
where my attitude and sass get the best of me, just ask anyone in my family, but I have been trying to remember how something so small can create so much joy for others.
I want to thank you all for being an amazing group of students to spend the last five years with. We all found unique ways to make Ohio Dominican home and are classmates our family. This time as a Panther has taught me more life lessons and has
given me more life experiences than I ever would have thought. I have met lifetime friends and had the most amazing opportunity to work for my dream company, The Walt Disney Company, for almost a year. I owe so much to Ohio Dominican, and
I believe many of you do too, and I’m not talking about student loans. We all have so many memories and experiences that are unique to being Panthers, and that is what makes us special. During these hard times remember the joys we have
all had and focus on the accomplishments we have all achieved.
In times of change and struggle we must continue to be find joy in life. Although this celebration is very different from what we all dreamed about we are luckier than others. We still have the chance to celebrate our accomplishments together,
even if it is a few months later. We must all learn to find the little joys in life and spread it to others. With that said I will close with this, wherever you go in life have courage and be kind. For this will help you live a much happier
and fuller life. We are all different and will all follow our own path. I hope this quote and speech offers you a small bit of inspiration as we leave here today. Thank you so much for being an amazing group of people to experience college
with. I wish you all the best of luck and want to say congratulations. We finally did, but we will always remain Panthers.