by Wyatt Bose ’23
On Wednesday, May 17th, Bellarmine hosted its annual awards ceremony where students were recognized for their accomplishments both inside and out of the classroom. Numerous awards were dealt out to a vast array of students, but none more prominent than the valedictorian award, taken home by Sam Otto ‘23.
Otto played volleyball at Bellarmine as a Freshman and Sophomore, has been an active leader in ASB all four years, has served as an ASB representative in Unity Council since his sophomore year, and founded the Bellarmine Hiking Club during the Spring of 2022.
In an interview with the standout senior on Friday, Otto was extremely gracious when asked about what it meant to win such a prestigious award:
“Being recognized as my class’s valedictorian means a great deal to me. It validates all the hard work I have put in over my four years and encourages me to continue with a similar ethic in my time beyond Bellarmine. I am honored to have been selected and will cherish the moment when my name was called for the rest of my life.”
I asked Otto to name a few individuals who have helped him along his high school journey. The senior said, “It is very hard for me to name just a few, as so many members of the Bellarmine community have profoundly influenced my life, but I will do my best.”
Otto did not want to leave anyone out, but here was his best attempt to thank everyone who has left a meaningful imprint on his life:
“First off, I have to give a huge shout out to Coach Toy. I am very fortunate to have been blessed by her generous spirit, boundless energy, and pure soul. She could always make me smile, no matter the day I was having. Additionally, I would like to thank Mrs. Slater for challenging me to be a servant leader. This term was foreign to me before I met her. Through her guidance in the classroom and on ASB, however, I can confidently say it describes a big part of who I am today. Lastly, my expression of gratitude would not be completed without mentioning Mr. Jiménez. I have never met a more passionate, good-hearted, and genuine person. He embodies the goodness I see in Bellarmine and has filled me with hope for a just and empathetic future.”
I think Otto’s teachers and mentors would say the same about him in return, especially Mrs. Slater, who spoke glowingly of the senior when she introduced him at the awards ceremony.
When asked about his favorite part about Bellarmine, Otto said, “The family you join the day you walk onto campus. It is something truly special about the school and manifests itself in countless, fantastic ways every day. Faculty care for you like you’re their own, peers look after each other like brothers, and everyone in the community makes you feel like you belong. I am very fortunate to have experienced this and excited to see my Bellarmine family grow in the years to come.”
Finally, I asked Otto to give his advice to the underclassmen and future senior class of 2024:
“Go for it! Always take the shot, especially when you doubt yourself the most. I would not be in the position I am today without constantly putting myself outside my comfort zone and expanding what I believed I was capable of doing. I know you and the people who care for you likely have high expectations for your future. Hold onto those, but never lose sight of who you are. Continue to follow your passions and know everything always works out for the best.”
Otto will study Business Administration at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.
Best of luck, Sam!