How I got Here: San Francisco to Orr Fellowship

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How I got Here: San Francisco to Orr Fellowship
October 22, 2018 by Evan McAvenia

I am a California girl. Born and bred. This is a moniker to which I have always attached a strong sense of personal identity. As a bay area native, I love the summer fog, the golden hills, the proximity to both the ocean and the mountains, and the perfect Mediterranean climate. To put it bluntly, I love California. I have mugs, necklaces, and t-shirts to prove it.

However, I think it is this connection to the state I love that pushed me to venture to the Midwest for college. I felt like I knew California and college provided a block of four years that were made for me to explore somewhere unfamiliar and blaze a new trail with little to lose. No matter what, I have a home I love, full of people I love even more waiting for me. So I decided to flip the traditional “go West” trope and “go Midwest”.

At the time, I do not think I could tell you why I felt pulled to the Midwest. As I said, I’m a self-professed California girl! However, as I reflect on this choice of relocation, especially with a few months as an Orr Fellow under my belt, I now see that what I really wanted was a strong sense of community. In my college experience, I wanted to be a part of something meaningful and larger than myself. Hallmarks of community, such as long-held tradition, vigorous school spirit, and a thriving college town compelled me to apply, and ultimately attend, a college in the Midwest.

Reflecting upon my postgraduate life so far, I realized I have again felt pulled toward a strong community, and it has kept me in the Midwest. It led me to Indianapolis and Orr Fellowship. Indianapolis is constantly growing, changing, and deciding its future and Orr allows me to be a part of that first hand.

Orr Fellowship thrives in Indianapolis because it is such a welcoming city where people truly care about one another. Business and thought leaders take time to work with Fellows. High-growth companies trust recent college graduates to make decisions and think unconventionally. Second Year Fellows actively reach out to First Year Fellows to make sure they are adjusting to their new lives and roles. Fellows’ families open their homes for events. At our host companies, the executive leadership takes the time to meet with Fellows. Alumni stay involved and actively contribute to the program. Needless to say, Orr has welcomed me into a family with open arms. Indianapolis has a special brand of community that is extremely warm, caring, and vibrant. However, it is the quality relationships that I have built in Orr that have quickly made this new city my home.

I am really lucky. I have multiple places to call home. I have my family and friends in California who shaped so much of what I value and a who I am. I have my housemates, friends, professors, and mentors in Oxford, Ohio who were influential during my formative college years. Now, I have my coworkers, friends, Orr Fellows, and the entire Indianapolis community pushing me to follow my passions and providing endless opportunities for growth.

I care deeply about and have attached a sense of pride, identity, and self to all of my “homes”. I will always be a California girl at heart, but the city of Indianapolis and Orr Fellowship wholeheartedly support those who choose to join their ranks and that’s why I’m so happy to be here in my Indianapolis home.

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