WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — Sunday was a life-changing day for more than 700 students at Otterbein University who received their diplomas at the school’s commencement ceremony.

The class of 2022 at Otterbein overcame many obstacles to get to the moment they walked across the stage, flipped their tassels, and officially earned their bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees.

“I don’t even have the words to describe this emotion,” said Joseline Martinez-Cortez, a first-generation college graduate in her family.

Martinez-Cortez, the outgoing president of Otterbein’s student government, spoke at commencement with her grandparents from Mexico traveling all the way to Westerville to celebrate the occasion.

“My cap says, ‘For my parents who came here with nothing and gave me everything.’ It’s in Spanish,” said Martinez-Cortez. “And it’s just to my parents who left Mexico to come and give me and my siblings a better life.”

Another student who spoke at commencement was Elijah McCutcheon, who had roles in many student organizations during his years at Otterbein.

McCutcheon said he kept a positive attitude through the tough moments for one reason: Community.

“My favorite part is the community feel,” said McCutcheon. “We emphasize that, we understand that it is important to have that. When students first come to a university and they make that connection, they stay enrolled and stay here.”