Stasha Carrasquillo joins us for October's Faces of the Fort, asserting that there is no shortage of things to get involved with in our area. Stasha is quite active in the community from volunteering for a slew of causes to working at Parkview Health as the director of foundation communication to championing Northeast Indiana as a great place for Millennials to raise families. Originally from the 101 lakes of Steuben County, she graduated from a small high school near South Bend. She says choosing where to attend college is what led her "straight to the heart of Fort Wayne"--and she's never looked back.
1.) You've achieved a great deal in a short amount of time: worked for a handful of terrific Northeast-Indiana-bred employers, earned two degrees, AND served as Miss Kankakee Valley. What are some benefits to making a life here in Fort Wayne as a young Gen Y professional? What are some challenges?
I have never second guessed my decision to build my career and life in Fort Wayne because the biggest benefit of making a life here is that opportunities abound for anyone who is willing to make their move, share their passion and be a part of what is going on around them. This takes initiative which is a challenge that may turn away some, but for those who truly want to make their life about sharing their passions and accomplishing their goals, life in Fort Wayne is perfectly staged for just that. My passion is learning and my goals challenge me to broaden my horizons and challenge myself to grow personally, spiritually and professionally; all of these elements of my life have found a place in Fort Wayne.
2.) What's one of the things about the Fort that you're most proud of?
What makes me most proud of Fort Wayne is the loyalty and camaraderie that can be found behind in every corner you search. Local coffee shops, bakeries, a growing trail system, Parkview Field, Lunch on the Square, new local restaurants, Fort4Fitness, RiverFest, the list could go on, but all of these share the common denominator that a Fort Wayne resident had an idea, dare I say a passion, and championed something they believed would benefit our community. I see so much growth happening throughout our community and knowing that the drive for this is homegrown makes me all the more proud to be able to share in the excitement. Not to mention my husband Andre and I get to show-off all of the new and wonderful things there are to share with others here in the Fort to our out-of-town family and friends.
3.) Giving back to the community is important to you. Was it difficult for you to get involved and feel like you are making a real difference in this city?
Difficult is the last word I would use to describe my efforts to get involved. I was honored to be asked to join the McMillen Center for Health Education Board of Directors the summer after I graduated from IPFW. My non-profit experience reaches back into my high school years, but to have the respect of an established, local non-profit that early in my career is not something I expected to experience. I've also worked with the Early Childhood Alliance and Forgotten Children Worldwide and I currently serve in a leadership capacity for Connection Point, a local organization that connects young Christian professionals. But with organizations and programs like Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana, Active 20-30, Junior League, other grass root young professional groups, Leadership Fort Wayne and Get On Board available to anyone who is interested, it is apparent to me that Fort Wayne is inclusive when it comes to getting involved. Not only that, but Fort Wayne has given me the opportunity to move my career into the non-profit sector where I am able to give back to my community all day, every day. For me, that is winning.
4.) What excites you most about Fort Wayne's future? Is there anything not in that picture that you wish was?
The leadership in Fort Wayne right now is doing a fantastic job of progressively setting a foundation for future generations. Many of the new campaigns and programs in the spotlight of the media and the community are geared toward engaging with younger generations and finding ways to support their talent, interests and lifestyles. With young professionals quickly coming up the ranks and adding its perspective to the ongoing community dialogue, this new foundation mixed with Gen Y's level of engagement that is said to be at level different and deeper than generations before, I think Fort Wayne is in for a real treat. I'm excited to see downtown continue to develop and with that I am excited to see that growth expand and explode into the whole of Fort Wayne. I'm so thankful for a downtown that is growing and hopping. I'm a sucker for the local attractions that are unique to any given community, so I will be even more thrilled when each corner of Fort Wayne, and northeast Indiana for that matter, is able to contribute to that same growth and excitement. I've already begun to see the beginning signs of that process, I'm selfishly looking forward to filling my nights and weekends with all of the new, unique and interesting Fort Wayne "must-dos" that will be around town.
5.) What is your favorite fall-time activity in the Fort and why?
In 2011, I had to talk my now husband Andre into running the 10K at Fort4Fitness. Running was new for us, so the challenge was definitely outside of our comfort zone. Now we just finished our third consecutive year participating in the F4F races, Andre is training for a full marathon and I am training for a half marathon. Not only has Fort4Fitness really motivated us to challenge ourselves physically, but it has become a family tradition of sorts that we look forward to every year. When I run the 10K route during the race, my favorite moments are seeing all of the people lining the streets to cheer the runners on. When I hear "Keep it up kiddo, you're doing great!" from a stranger on the sidelines, I am reminded again why Fort Wayne is my home and will be for the foreseeable future. People in the Fort care and you see that in action in a big way during Fort4Fitness.