Celina Weatherwax, serving as a curator, volunteers her time working with a group of young professionals in Lake and Porter Counties. These volunteers, of different capacities and talents, meet to discuss ways to energize Northwest Indiana, with special emphasis on large transformational investments, specifically in the implementation of the South Shore extension. The group is focused on regional growth to not only retain, but attract young professionals.
Over the past several months, they have met, discussed, and organized,an already sold out, Ted Talk event to be held on Thursday, November 13, 2014 at County Line Orchard.
This independent, driven, self-starting, young lady began exhibiting all these traits early in life. At the tender age of seven, Celina was cast into a leadership role usually reserved for mature adults. Born in Nicaragua, the oldest of 3 daughters, her family moved to Northwest Indiana and quickly established themselves in Hobart, where she attended elementary and middle schools, and is a proud graduate of Hobart High School.
"When I arrived in the U.S., I spoke no English. It was thanks to the good efforts of the Hobart teachers that I quickly learned," she said.
While honing her English language skills, she also served as the translator for her family as they had yet to learn the language.
"Once I learned English, it became easier, yet harder at the same time. I learned to grow up really fast," she said.
This role in her family taught her great leadership skills early on, as her parent's were dependent upon her for all their communication.
While speaking of the war torn country from which she immigrated, "I am so fortunate that my family had the foresight to recognize that they wanted better for my sister's and me. And more importantly, that the U.S. would facilitate the opportunity for us to be where we are today. I am so grateful for the opportunity, and proud to become a United States citizen."
Upon her graduation from Purdue North Central, she joined Senator Dick Lugar's staff as his Hispanic Outreach Coordinator. This position saw her traveling the state of Indiana, quickly learning her way around all 92 counties. She would later serve as Director of the Northwest Indiana Office for Senator Lugar, while continuing her outreach work with the Hispanic/Latino outreach across the state. During her time as Director, she served 15 counties in Northwest Indiana, and established relationships with community organizations and other elected officials in the region.
"I quickly realized that public service was what I was made up of," she said.
While determining public service was her passion, she still felt as though something were missing. She then returned to PNC to pursue her MBA. Although it was a slow process, while continuing to work, she would complete her degree.
After the 2012 primary, at which her employer was unsuccessful, she came to a crossroads in her life. She saw this as an opportunity to do something else. She would then return to school at Purdue University Calumet and studied government relations for one year at which time she was presented the opportunity to join Congressman Peter Visclosky's staff. She accepted the position and currently serves as his Director of Communications covering Lake, Porter, and La Porte Counties.
Celina and her husband, Derek, reside in Chesterton, IN, and in her limited spare time, enjoys running, boating, and fishing.
She completed the Chicago Marathon in 2013 to which she described as, "The most rewarding experience I've ever had."
We thank you, Celina, for your contributions to our community, and for your positive role model for our next generation of young professionals.