Emerging Leaders Alliance: 5 Questions with Christen Wheeler
Christen Wheeler, 21, has lived in Whitley County her entire life. She is graduating from Ivy Tech in business administration in December. Christen joined the ELA in 2018.
As an emerging leader who are you?
I think I am still finding myself and becoming a leader while learning from everyone around me. I feel like there’s been a lot of opportunities with people I look up to. The reason why I love the ELA is because it has connected me with other people my age that have similar goals. It has allowed me to find what kind of leader I want to be. I have felt my leadership in going to school and owning my own business. I feel like I can help other people in reaching their goals. I love to focus on interpersonal relationships and making sure the people around me are succeeding and doing their best. There’s a level of empathy that comes with that. I’m a visionary of what’s possible. It’s important to have that outlook in life. Anything is possible. It all add ups and turns into something bigger when you apply yourself.
What counties have you lived in?
I have lived in Whitley County my whole life. There is a small town feel in Columbia City and everybody knows everyone. Being a small business owner, the amount of encouragement and support that I have received from locals is incredible. I started my own business two years ago and between that, my daily job, school, and work in the community, I keep busy. I currently work for a company that employs over 500 people in Northeast Indiana while also running my own businesses. I definitely see myself staying here. My roots are here.
What do you love about Northeast Indiana?
There is so much to do and so many things that I haven’t done yet. I love venturing out to places like Winona Lake, Country Heritage Winery, the TinCaps in Fort Wayne, local coffee shops, and I really can’t wait to experience Electric Works someday. More than that, it's the people. I genuinely love the people here. There is so much support for one another.
What would you like to see in Northeast Indiana in the future?
My biggest hope is that young people will be attracted to the things happening in Northeast Indiana. I hope that people come here after finishing school to see what Northeast Indiana is all about. There aren’t a lot of places where you can have such a big impact at such a young age, but places like Columbia City and Fort Wayne allow for that. I feel like my generation wants to be heard and wants to make an impact. We have the ability to do that right here in Northeast Indiana. There is room for everyone.
What is something that you have done in Northeast Indiana that you never expected to do?
I didn’t expect to break out of my shell like I have. I think it’s easy to believe you can’t make a difference or achieve your goals but that's not true. In the last couple years, I have done so much in my business and with the ELA. The speed networking event that the ELA created was awesome and being able to connect with CEOs and talk to them about what I think and feel was important to me. We all just want to be heard. It’s amazing what happens when you open up to others.
by Stephen J. Bailey for the Emerging Leaders Alliance, a program of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership