Traverse City is one of the greatest places to grow up. It took a few years into college for me to realize this, but I when I did, I knew it would be the place I also wanted to work. It wasn't always that way: it took me hearing from friends at college about their lack of love for the places that they grew up that made me appreciate where I was raised.
I was born and raised on the Old Mission peninsula like the multiple generations of family before me. I attended Old Mission Elementary where some life-long friendships began and still exist today. I went on the East Junior High and then Central High School. I learned skills at Central High that would help me through college and into my working career. I was the Editor-in-Chief of the 2006 Pines Yearbook, which gave me an inside look into many of the students that grew up here alongside me and what the different areas of our community had to offer. In the spring of 2006 I graduated moved to Midland, MI to attend Northwood University. I attended Northwood for both undergrad and graduate school. During the time at Northwood I was able to experience many different opportunities for travel and internships that starting shaping my return to Traverse City.
In the summer of 2007 I was offered a position as an intern for Delphi Automotive Systems in their Product and Service Solutions division of Sales Administration. This removed me from summers Traverse City and placed me in Troy, MI. This was a bit of shock: I realized what traffic really means and how much I missed living near the water. When my time came to end there and was time to select my next internship, I came back home and took a job with one of the area’s greatest organizations and festivals. I became the operations intern for the National Cherry Festival.
I always volunteered for the National Cherry Festival and helped in the office when school would let out in the summer when I was growing up, but this was different: I was working full-time in Traverse City for the summer for one of the community’s greatest assets. I worked with a great team at the NCF where I took in life lessons and “teachable moments” that I still remember and use today. When I got back to Northwood that fall, it dawned on me how much I had learned and the doors that opened with that internship. I learned things that gave me the experience to run the operations and logistics for North America’s largest outdoor new car auto show in Midland, MI. As my auto show time was coming to an end, so was my undergraduate schooling. I was looking for jobs, but still had my thirst for education, so I decided to continue on with graduate school at the Devos Graduate School. While I was learning in the classroom, I decided that I needed to start looking for a career and where I wanted to live. This is when I truly realized that I did grow up in the best place on earth and that I would move back to Traverse City.
I moved back to Traverse City after graduate school and started the long job search and interviewing until one afternoon when I ended up having coffee with one of my longtime high school friends and we decided to stop and say hi to the Ford family. This day started the process for me working at Ford Insurance Agency. Working in the insurance and risk management field is the perfect way for me to give back to the community I love through protecting our regions property and my friends and neighbors from financial hardship if they experienced a loss. This was a win for me.
Now, as I write this post, so much is running through my mind. However, I believe I nailed down the three reasons that I moved back and decided to start a career here. The first is the people that live and grew-up here. They helped shaped who I am and have been some of the greatest friends over the years. My family has lived on Old Mission for generations and most of my family lived within a few miles of where I grew-up.
The second reason that I felt moving back to Traverse City was the right choice was my pride in the place where I was born, grew up, and had the opportunity to come back and be an involved citizen through working and actively volunteering in our community. We have so many opportunities in Traverse City to give back to our community like Junior Achievement, the National Cherry Festival, or volunteering with Traverse City Young Professionals.
The third and final theme that I believe influenced my decision to move back was the city itself. Our vibrant little gem nestled between Leelanau and Antrim counties with our great restaurants, breweries, wineries, and natural beauty is hard to find, and makes Traverse City a great place to continue to grow up.