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Make It Your Own in Northeast Indiana with Jessica Morales

July 15th, 2020

Get to Know Northeast Indiana Transplant Jessica Morales

Northeast Indiana boasts many opportunities for its residents. Whether you want to build a family, attend a four-year university, create art or start a company, it allows for all different walks of life to Make It Your Own in Northeast Indiana.

Director of Institutional Advancement at Canterbury School Jessica Morales shares her story of how she landed in Fort Wayne and what it's like making Northeast Indiana her home.

1. What brought you to the Northeast Indiana region?

Before moving to Northeast Indiana, I grew up in the Connecticut and New York City area and was accustomed to a big, metropolitan setting; however, I was growing to realize that I wanted something else, something different, but I didn’t know what it was until January 2018. It was then that Northeast Indiana caught my eye after I learned of this job opportunity at Canterbury School, one of the premier Pre-K-Grade 12 independent schools in the Midwest, which would afford me tremendous professional growth and impact. Having never been to the region before, I was excited to learn more. Ultimately, what ended up grabbing my attention and sealing the deal was the undeniable investment, growth, momentum and pride in Fort Wayne and the Northeast Indiana region. In my opinion, this level of development and excitement can only happen when people genuinely love where they live and want the best for their home and neighbors, and that is not something one finds just anywhere. I knew I wanted to be a part of something bigger and I learned that “something” was Northeast Indiana. I moved here in June 2018 and in June 2019, my fiancé joined me in Fort Wayne—we never looked back since.

2. Share one story that demonstrates why you think Northeast Indiana is a special place to live and work.

It’s hard to pick just one story that encapsulates why this region is the most special place to live, work and play. If I have to choose one, it remains the story of my first networking event I attended within my first week of living in Fort Wayne. I moved here not knowing anyone and I was excited to meet new people, but, admittedly, being “the new person in town” isn’t always easy. Nevertheless, I walked into the event not knowing a single person but rather instantly, I became acquainted with a small group of three professionals and conversation flowed quite easily. At that moment, I listened to the stories of each person standing around that high-top table—one lived in the Fort Wayne their whole life and never left; another grew up in Columbia City, moved away after college, and recently moved back to the area; and the final person was a transplant (like me!) having moved to Fort Wayne just two years before. I met four people, each with different interests, different seasons of life, and different road maps that ultimately led us to Northeast Indiana. Each person spoke to what made this region the place for them—arts, food, cost of living, philanthropy, concerts, sports, family, professional opportunities, parks, downtown and more. I quickly realized that each person made this place their own and they were all so proud of their story—that experience is what makes this place so special. (Side note: to this day, the four of us still meet up, support one another and enjoy Northeast Indiana Indiana together.)

3. What does “Make It Your Own” mean to you?

Similar to the story above, I find that the notion of “Make It Your Own” serves as the welcome mat for any person to come as you are (not what you think you should be) to discover, to explore and to learn more about you and your story than you would or could anywhere else. For me, the ability to “Make It Your Own” derives from accessibility, which often remains one of the most underrated, overlooked drivers for a greater quality of life. Often, we as a society can gravitate towards living a life of “excess” rather than “access” and I have learned that it can (and should) be the other way around like it is here in Northeast Indiana. Since I moved here, I have learned how the ease in accessing things like travel, time, cost of living, networking, people, outdoors, entertainment, leadership and other amenities have transformed my quality of life. I have been able to make it my own because of access to things that add value to my life and to my story, which I didn’t have access to (or ease of access) before.

4. What is your favorite weekend activity here in the region?

In a given weekend, we love spending time at local restaurants and breweries, enjoying a concert at The Clyde or a festival, and walking the trails and parks with our dog.

5. What do you love most about your job, industry or company?

Working in education has always been a rewarding and fulfilling career, and now working at Canterbury School, my purpose, passion and meaning has only elevated. In my role, I oversee the enrollment, marketing and fundraising functions for the school; therefore, my work directly affects and impacts the story, connection, success and love for every Canterbury student, parent, teacher, alumni, and supporter. I also realize that my work not only impacts Canterbury School but the greater community at large and Northeast Indiana as a whole. Children are one of the biggest (if not the biggest) assets in our region and by investing in them and providing the best educational opportunities, we will only move our region forward. By working at Canterbury, I get a look into the future of our region and our world and I can confidently say that the future is bright.

6. How have you gotten involved in the community (voluntarism, hobbies, etc.)?

I firmly believe the only way to move forward is to give back to your community and I love getting involved in organizations that have a direct, scalable impact on people, their access and their futures. I proudly serve on the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Club of Fort Wayne and the board of directors for Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana, as Director at Large for Leadership Development. I am a graduate of Greater Fort Wayne Inc.’s Leadership Fort Wayne 2020 Cohort and will help lead a new Greater Fort Wayne program for newcomers to the region called Onboard Fort Wayne. I am involved in the digital publication, Input Fort Wayne, and serve as a local volunteer/advocate for the national non-profit organization, Comfort Cases. Outside of volunteer work, my hobbies include traveling to new towns and cities, enjoying concerts, music and theater productions, trying a good local restaurant or brewery and spending time outdoors whenever I can. Ultimately, my favorite hobby is being the biggest cheerleader and advocate for Northeast Indiana.

7. What’s one thing/amenity you think can be found only in NEI?

The region’s transformative growth and momentum are unrivaled, and yet the collective community of Northeast Indiana continues to balance the small town feels with the big city amenities.

8. What are three words to describe you?

I am an activator, traveler, and energizer.  

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