Good afternoon to the Otterbein community, family and friends, and the amazing class of 2013. My name is Kahla Johnson and I am truly honored to be speaking to you on behalf of our graduating class.
Four years ago...Four years ago gas sold for two dollars a gallon. LeBron James was still "balling it up" here in Ohio. We had never heard of the music group "One Direction" and none of us knew we would one day become “Beliebers”. And four years ago, we were all taking our first unknowing steps here at Otterbein.
It is hard to believe how fast four years can go. I remember my move in day when a box of donuts broke the ice with the girls on my floor. It was just a short week later that I was dancing the "Single Ladies" dance and singing “The Lollipop Guild” song to solidify those friendships forever.
My experience at Otterbein has been greater than I could have ever imagined. I didn’t make my decision to come to Otterbein until the day of the deadline. I will be the first to admit that I was scared I had made a rushed decision. But after my first week here, I found that I had made the best decision of my life. I had found a place where I could be a better "me" than I ever imagined possible. With the encouragement of the staff and fellow classmates, we each were pushed to dream big, set our goals high, and persevere to see not only a change in our self but in the world around us. For that, I want to say thank you.
I had the privilege over the past four years to interact with almost all of you. I was reminded everyday of just how amazing all of you are. Whether you were giving it you’re all in the sport that you love or graciously volunteering your time to make this world a better place, you left your mark. For those of you who owned the performance stage, were leaders in the organization that you loved, or reported the campus news, you made a difference. You inspired me everyday to be better and to reach for the stars. You are the reason for my success.
Almost a year ago, I started on a journey. Some may have called it crazy, but I wanted to be an intern on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. I started by making and sending one video each day to the show. One video turned into 50 and 50 into 100. After 147 consecutive videos, many of which you were a part of (thanks for allowing me to "shove" a camera in your face) I received the internship of a lifetime. I would be spending my final semester in Los Angeles, California working for The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Although I was ecstatic beyond belief, I was also scared. I was moving away from the place that had shown me so much love and support. I was leaving the security and comfort at Otterbein to go to a place where I was a no one. But I realized something. No matter how far I may go, this place, these people, this will always be my home.
I want you all to remember that. No matter where you may travel in this world, Otterbein is so much more than a University, it’s a community, it’s a family; it’s our home. A part of Otterbein will always be our "home" because its' lessons are instilled in each of us. Every opportunity you had here, all the people you met, take that and go out into the world. Otterbein has educated you as a whole person and you have impacted this campus more than you will ever know. One of my favorite quotes is, “There will always be a reason why you meet people. Either you need them to change your life or you’re the one that will change theirs.” You have changed my life. Now take all that you have accomplished out into this world and change it for you. Make a difference. Change the world.
Four years ago we began our journey here at Otterbein and today as this journey comes to an end, a new, even bigger journey is waiting for us. I want to leave you with this, as you go throughout your journey remember, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”-Henry David Thoreau.
My time at Otterbein has exposed me to the greatest people and we are all equipped to follow our dreams, make a difference, and change things for the better. I am blessed to have gotten to know you and can say with confidence that you will be in my life forever.
Thank you Otterbein for being a community of loving and supportive faculty and staff, for bonding us into one big happy family, and for giving us a place to call home. Though it was brief, it was brilliant!
To the class of 2013 - I love you all. We did it!
Kahla Johnson is a Broadcasting major with a minor in Speech Communication. She interned with The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Mark Dantzer of Mix 107.9 FM in Columbus, Ohio and NBC4, Daytime Columbus. Kahla has served as operations manager, senior producer/anchor and promotions and special events coordinator for Otterbein's student television station, WOCC-TV3/OTV. She also served as training and development coordinator and promotions coordinator for Otterbein's student radio station, WOBN-FM. Kahla was Otterbein's 2012 Homecoming Queen.