After learning and studying in China, becoming a published author in two different languages, and starting to write a dystopian novel, Pacific University's valedictorian is prepared to pen her own next chapter.
Graduation at the Forest Grove university was held May 18, and senior Charli Elliot said she's ready for what comes after college.
Elliott says she found just "the place for her" when visiting Pacific for the first time. The university wasn't too far from her Seattle roots, but more importantly, it covered all her vastly different interests — creative writing, Chinese language and even basketball.
"How you do anything, is how you do everything," Charli's father, Jason Elliott, told her when she became involved in sports 11 years ago.
Those are words she took to heart.
Despite being a key player for the women's basketball team, Elliott studied abroad in China her junior year. While much more immersive and challenging than Elliott's first two-week visit to the country four years prior, she says she's grateful to even get the chance to visit again.
In her commencement speech, Elliott stressed how important it is for new graduates, including herself, to take chances in life. To live out their own unique stories.
"As a writer I know just how daunting it can be staring at a blank page with a blinking cursor," Elliott said. "But just like life, I've found it's best to simply start; to go for it." *
Elliott plans to move to Taiwan this August to teach English. She said her experiences in China and Taiwan will shape her writing. "I already have so many stories from my time in China that have already begun to influence my writing, and that was only (a four-month visit)," Elliott said. "Going for a year, and by myself, will definitely be a life-changing experience and leave me with a million more exciting stories to tell."
As Elliott readies herself for her big move, she's taken the time to reflect on all of her accomplishments in Forest Grove. She admits she's still not quite sure how she pulled it off.
"To be honest, I have no idea how I made it work," Elliot says. "I studied on buses to away games, maintained good relationships with my professors; at the end of the day, if it was important to me, I made time."
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