Hearing a message inspiring them to step into their future, 92 OBU graduates received their diplomas during OBU's 2012 Winter Commencement on Friday, Dec. 14.
The ceremony marked the first combined graduation for undergraduate students from OBU's Shawnee campus and graduate students from the OBU Graduate School in Oklahoma City.
During the ceremony in OBU's John Wesley Raley Chapel, the graduates heard from Willa Ruth Garlow, an author and speaker from Oklahoma City. Garlow challenged the students to make a difference in the world. She cautioned them as they step into the future that the world does not offer "glass slippers" or "ruby slippers," but instead requires a conscious decision to put on shoes of work, play, dress, home and correction -- whatever shoes best fit each graduate and what he or she wants to accomplish.
"It's a fact of life you will be required to wear 'work shoes' -- sorry about that," Garlow said. "In order to eat and live, you have to wear work shoes. Your work shoes may be leather or canvas or lace-up or slip-on or boots or athletic shoes or sandals or whatever, but you have to step up to your future. I hope you do it with determination to wear your work shoes with confidence and willingness to work."
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Garlow said willingness to work separates winners from losers in any arena of work. She said students will find success in work if they employ the quality of self-discipline.
"Your ability to discipline yourself to set clear goals and then work toward them every day will do more to guarantee your success than any other factor," she said.
She told the graduates to think positively and put energy in their work, and to balance time wearing "work shoes" with wearing "play shoes."
"Rest and relaxation and play are important," Garlow said. "The person who wears out his work shoes and never puts on play shoes will soon become a tired, unkind, (grumpy), weird, one-dimensional, negative grouch."
She told the graduates to have their "dress shoes" ready, cleaned and polished to be appropriately dressed for whatever occasion might arise in their futures, and to take responsibility for wearing their "house shoes," creating a comfortable haven at home.
"Many successful people wear their work shoes really well, but not their house shoes," Garlow said. "To climb the ladder of what they call success, they neglect home and marriage and family, which become heart-breakingly dysfunctional, loveless, rebellious, humorless and unhappy. Don't let that happen to you and your family. … Make your home a safe haven from the storms of life."
"Resolve to step up with a confident, positive work ethic and wear your work shoes," Garlow urged the graduates. "Resolve to step up with a sense of joy and wear your play shoes. Resolve to step up with a sense of personal self-esteem and wear your dress shoes. Resolve to step up with love and home and family and wear your comfortable house shoes. And with that same resolve, step up and wear your corrective shoes."
"Corrective shoes" pinch, Garlow noted, but are necessary for a balanced life. She told graduates to mend broken relationships, to be the first to say, "I'm sorry," to straighten out one's personal spiritual life and to make attitude adjustments.
"You can step up to make a positive contribution, to make a positive difference in our world," Garlow said. "Go for it!"
In his charge to the graduates, Dr. David W. Whitlock, OBU president, challenged them to remember they carry the distinction of being graduates of OBU, having studied at an institution that has sought to stand for Christian distinctiveness and academic excellence since its founding in 1910.
"We have sought to instill within you an honest awareness of yourself and the world around you," Whitlock said. "We have sought to strengthen your commitment to Christ. We have sought to make you a better decision-maker. We have sought to impart to you the heart to care, and the spirit to attempt great things that will make your world a better place."
The program included recognition from the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, which founded the university in 1910. Dr. Anthony Jordan, executive director and treasurer, brought greetings on behalf of the BGCO. The graduates were inducted into the OBU Alumni Association by Lori Hagans, executive director of the association.
Neal Ellis, president of the Student Government Association and a senior from Midlothian, Texas, and Dr. Stan Norman, provost and executive vice president for campus life, presented the undergraduate graduating class. Brad Yocum, who received his master's of business administration degree, and Norman presented the Graduate School graduating class. Dr. Scott Harris, director of the OBU Graduate School, led the benediction.