Graduation parties. Walking to accept your diploma. Families gathered for photos. These things and many others constitute an end to the traditional college experience. For me, my time at Otterbein has been anything but traditional. As a 35-year old, married, father-to-be, transfer student, my time at Otterbein was short but life changing.
There is a community here that is unique to any I have experienced. Students, faculty and administrators love this university. I liked my time at Columbus State, but I did not love it and did not know anyone else who did. The graduation was a ruckus, and by the time the final student accepted their diploma, half of the audience had already left. This is just not how things are done at Otterbein. There is a respect for the institution that I have only ever experienced as a member of the United States Marine Corps., and Otterbein is not quite that fanatical.
Students here treat each other so well, and that was just not something I had originally envisioned when coming here. Having grown up in Westerville off of Huber Village Blvd. I knew about Otterbein my whole life, and always thought it was a bunch of rich kids spending mommy and daddy’s money with little regard for the value of the dollar. I was pleasantly shown this is not the case during my first semester on campus. People attend Otterbein from all walks of life, some rich some not, but many of us seem to be drawn here because of its reputation as a good university. During my short time here, I must say that it has earned that reputation.
The faculty, especially in the Communication Department, won me over immediately. I was under the assumption they would all be of one ideology, of which probably do not subscribe, and would batter us students with their personal socio-political views. I could not have been more wrong. I met professionals who cared about our learning experience, and while they would work with us to meet our educational goals, they would not hold our hands or lower the bar for success. I cannot put into words how much I appreciate this approach by our professors because of how well it helps prepare us for the professional world that will not cut us any slack. Trust me, I have already been there. From the administration at the Center for Student success, to the Veteran liaison’s office, to the departmental professors who helped me along the way when unforeseen circumstances caused bumps in the road of education, every single employee at Otterbein did whatever was in their power to help me. This truly is meeting and exceeding the standard set by Otterbein as an institution and I believe will help it succeed in the uncertain future we are moving towards.
This editorial was not supposed to be a gushing review of the people who control my grades, it just happened to be the truth of the matter. Sure, parking at Otterbein was a mess the first couple of semesters, but now as I end my final semester, I have no classes on campus or in-person so that solves the parking issue.
As our country and the world continues to reel in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Otterbein has done what it can to help alleviate the stress of this situation. Has it been a perfect and seamless transition? Of course not, nothing has been in this world since March of this year when we were told to leave school as the country began the quarantine period. Keep in mind, we had just suffered a massive cyber-attack that crashed the systems here on campus! Have the students and faculty felt the pressure of not having any breaks this semester? Absolutely, in ways we as students cannot fully understand because we do not see the work going on in the background to try and get us the exceptional education that we and our families pay for. We can overcome this period of turmoil though, and not just overcome it but excel during it. This will make us stronger as people and build the community stronger as we endure this place in human history together.
So, without the usual fanfare of college graduation, those who finish their time at Otterbein at the end of this semester will have it just come to a quiet end. There will be emails, texts messages, phone calls, and probably some family or friends who get to celebrate in our accomplishment, but nothing like it has been in the past. For myself, I am ok with that. I am still blessed to have a wonderful family who has loved and supported me throughout this educational journey, and a new family I made during my time here at Otterbein. Now as this chapter of life comes to an end, that just means a new one is beginning. I will be able to face this new chapter with a valuable degree from a respected institution of higher learning and the experiences of my time on campus. So thank you Otterbein, for not only adding to my education, but for also introducing me to a new community of diverse people who have helped edify me as a person and prepare me for the next chapter of my life.
Due to this being a Senior Goodbye Column, it was not edited or touched by anyone but the reporter.