Fort Wayne: A Midwest hub for music and art

Abby Gehlhausen

Imagine walking downtown in a mid-sized city, seeing countless murals and art installations. Flyers on the windows of local businesses advertise local artists and bands. Then, you wander upon a performing arts theater for the Philharmonic, and you decide to sit in for the performance; the chandeliers, the red velvet, the wine.

That’s what it feels like to be in Fort Wayne, Indiana. If you seek it out, a whole world of arts and music exists in this city.

From the Embassy Theater to public art, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, local artists, The Civic Theater, and Sweetwater Sound, there is something to fit everyone’s interests.

Art and music are important because it allows us to express ourselves and create something we are proud of. In return, it often boosts people’s confidence, gives people purpose, and can even help us learn about different cultures.

Maddie Mory, a music student at Purdue Fort Wayne, says that as a music educator, music is powerful and even increases our critical thinking skills.

“Studying music has allowed me to be constantly challenged while gaining an appreciation for past cultures and composers’ work,” Mory said.

Art aids in forming many developmental skills, builds math concepts and allows for social experiences with others, starting in childhood.

According to the American Psychological Association, “…high schoolers who take music courses score significantly better on exams in certain other subjects, including math and science, than their nonmusical peers.”

With the benefits of the arts in mind, here is a bit of what Fort Wayne has to offer.

For those passionate about music, Sweetwater Sound is a great place to start. As the country’s largest music retailer, they offer products and services for any aspiring musician, such as music lessons.

“Sweetwater has equipped me with the tools and knowledge to pursue my dreams,” said Aidan Bahre, a long-term customer from Fort Wayne. “When you walk in, it’s like Disney World.”

Sweetwater was founded in 1979 by Chuck Surack as a recording studio and has since reached 1 billion dollars in revenue. Many say Sweetwater’s motto sets the company apart from the rest: “Always do the right thing.”

If you prefer to listen to music, the Philharmonic at the Embassy Theater, the Clyde Theater, and a variety of local bands will be your go-to spots to visit.

According to Emily Shannon, the director of marketing and community relations for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, they have been focused on providing musical experiences to the Fort Wayne community and inspiring musicians since their first performance in 1944.

“We love to host events focusing on famous composers, help our youth orchestra flourish, invite the public out for holiday performances, and offer free tickets to students so that they may retain a passion for the musical arts,” Shannon said.

Fort Wayne has a large scene of local artists and bands. Some of the up-and-coming bands are a part of Purdue Fort Wayne’s Gold Top Music Group, a new record label with the university.

The group hosted an Indie Music Night in May, where three bands performed: Los Galaxy, Man of the Flood, and Los Lemons.

Supporting the work of local artists is important because it allows us to connect with our local community and financially support their work.

Quentin Wright, a member of the local indie rock band Disco Curls, said his band recently performed at The Ruin and The Muse on Band, two local venues for performers.

“Playing in Disco Curls has let me grow creatively and musically,” Wright said. “I love getting to meet new people, build my relationship with my bandmates, and produce new music.”

If you are more interested in art, the public art map of downtown Fort Wayne will be your best friend.

There has been a huge push for making downtown more beautiful by painting old buildings and creating art installations in the past few years. You can even sign up for the Fort Wayne Public Art Trail, which provides exclusive information and maps right from your phone.

While you’re in the area, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and the Arts United Center are fantastic places to check out.

The museum’s recent featured exhibits are ‘The Art of the Skateboard’ and ‘Color X Color: Selections from the Chuck Sperry Archive’. Arts United Center hosts a variety of events at many of the locations already mentioned. More recently, they started a podcast called “Art Unites Us” which currently has three episodes and is growing into a series.

Let’s not forget theater productions! Fort Wayne’s Civic Theater strives to nurture the creative soul, promote diversity, and educate the community. Upcoming productions include ‘Noises Off’, ‘Steel Magnolias’, and the ‘25 Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’.

Michaela Mooney, a 2021 Carroll High School graduate who heavily participated in theater and show choir, said that she loves being able to be in productions past graduation.

“Theater and singing are a huge part of who I am, and I am grateful that I still have somewhere to call home.”

The pandemic couldn’t stop students from networking with employers

Liv Colón | Fall 2021

As the world learns to navigate the uncertain times amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Purdue Fort Wayne’s Career Development Center makes adjustments to keep networking and job recruitment assistance available to students.

Located on campus in Kettler Hall room 109, the Career Development Center provides a wide variety of services to students and alumni. The center hosts events that provide networking opportunities such as job or internship fairs and career workshops.

In adherence to COVID-19 restrictions, some events held by the Career Development Center have shifted from in-person to online only.

Assistant Director of the Career Development Center Tracey Hanton said she is still trying to figure out how to navigate the COVID-19 restrictions, but she acknowledges how these changes affect students differently.

“It’s been great for introverts, but for extroverts, it distracts from networking opportunities,” said Hanton, adding her main goal is to help students develop career readiness and networking skills as well as pinpointing what competencies students are lacking as they gear up to enter a career.

“When I think of everything that students need, in terms of looking for a job, I really think of it as a toolbox. I think of all of the pieces really going in to make up that toolbox,” said Hanton, explaining the “toolbox” is composed of the skills and information students learn as they participate and attend events.

Hanton said she believes successful networking happens when students take initiative to make

“A lot of times the opportunities aren’t just going to be there, you kind of have to go and search them out,” said Hanton, who has been helping students prepare to enter the workplace since 2008.

Hanton said she encourages students to start preparing for their future careers as early as the end of high school.

For first-year students, Hanton said she recommended researching the Freshman Leadership Retreat. Hanton said this event helps students learn practical skills that involve communication and team building– important skills to learn for communicating with employers and co-workers.

Hanton said she believes networking and communicating with employers is a personal responsibility of each student to take ownership of. While the Career Development Center offers opportunities to network with employers, Hanton said ultimately it is up to each student to show employers what they would contribute to the workplace.

Each year the Career Development Center hosts the Mastodon Internship Fair. Hanton said the fairs are excellent for students to showcase the networking skills they have learned and to seek out new opportunities. 24 employers were set to attend the virtual event on Handshake in the fall of 2021 to recruit students for internships, co-ops and jobs.

Students can find information on all events hosted by the Career Development Center on PFW’s events calendar. Students can connect on Handshake for free by registering.

Express your identity with clothes from the ‘Transition Closet’

Sydney Hamblin | Spring 2022

Purdue University Fort Wayne’s Q Center is opening a new addition to their office within the next year called the Transition Closet.

The Transition Closet will be the first physical space in Fort Wayne where transgender or gender nonconforming students can go to find accessible and affordable clothing that matches their gender identity.

The term “transgender” describes people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth, while “gender nonconforming” is a term used to describe people who do not follow other people’s ideas or stereotypes about how they should look or act based on the sex they were assigned at birth, according to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

Jordan Sanderson, coordinator of The Q Center at PFW, said that the Transition Closet will be a way to help students who may be in the beginning of their journey of transitioning and don’t have the funds or resources to obtain clothes that align with how they want to present themselves.

“We just know that there’s a need for something like this. Our community doesn’t have many LGBTQ+ resources, not even just at Purdue Fort Wayne but in Fort Wayne in general.”

Sanderson said the idea was proposed by him and the director of The Q Center, Vic Spencer, but their human services intern, Ashley Kraus, was the one who brought the idea to life.

Ashley Kraus presents her experiences at her human services internship with The Q Center at the human services capstone event.

Kraus said the staff at The Q Center came up with a $6,810 annual budget for staff wages, clothing storage, marketing materials and other miscellaneous supplies. On top of that, The Q Center will also be fundraising and accepting donations to help supply the closet.

“We will do a clothing drive at the beginning and end of each semester when people are packing up to go home for the summer or for winter break and displaying that clothing in the closet.”

According to Planet Aid, the average college student produces 640 pounds of trash annually, the majority of which accumulates at the end of the year during move-out. Most of what students are throwing away is reusable or recyclable and doesn’t need to end up in a landfill.

Kraus said that The Q Center plans on placing donation bins in student housing for students to donate their clothing for a good cause instead of throwing them away.

Within the next five years, Kraus said The Q Center hopes to expand the space and offer these services to the Fort Wayne community.

Sanderson also said that a personal goal of his is to have enough funds to have people come in and occasionally tailor outfits for students.

The Transition Closet at Purdue University Fort Wayne is estimated to open during the fall of 2023.

Student-run eSports program pays homage to Fort Wayne

These days, you don’t have to be on the field or the court to compete in sports.

There is an ever-growing community of competitive gamers in the online world of eSports, and two students are bridging the gap between the learning stages and the professional scene.

Isaac Wendel and Jaden Hullinger are the co-founders of the eSports program 260Widow Gaming. Best friends and roommates at Purdue University Fort Wayne, they are representing the city’s area code with the new organization that highlights both local and international talent.

The group is geared toward students in high school and college interested in the multimedia world. Interests include gaming, editing, marketing, design, and many more creative mediums that contribute to the popularity of eSports.

So far, 260Widow Gaming has about seven involved in Fort Wayne, and one that joined from Romania.

The eSports lab is in Walb Student Union, room 221. You can find 260Widow Gaming on YouTube and Twitter.

Starting with our neighbors, Baha’i community looks to build unity in Fort Wayne

An event this weekend is uniting the community with two steps: vision and action.

“Building Vibrant Communities” is all about the oneness of humanity. Together, those in attendance are discussing tangible ways to grow closer as a community.

Born and raised in Fort Wayne, Marisol Sharpe has watched the city grow and is stepping up as a leader to make sure growth continues. Thanks to an initiative organized by the Baha’i community Sharpe is part of, the Fort Wayne conference is one of many happening around the world. Saturday’s focus is on the vision, and Sunday the discussion is all about action.

And the event is far from a lecture. Discussion-based breakout sessions are designed to involve every voice in attendance. Adults, teens, and youth as young as five years old are all invited to join in.

Sharpe said everyone has a part to play in the betterment of the world, and everyone has the option to be a “protagonist” in the effort to make the world a better place.

You don’t have to wait for another conference to be part of the program. One way to practice “oneness of humanity”, Sharpe explained, is to get to know our neighbors. Forming relationships with the people that live around us fulfills the second part of the initiative– action.

“I don’t think we realize– the small acts of kindness, how far those things really go,” Sharpe said.

The two-day conference is Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Breakfast and lunch are provided. Learn more about the efforts of the Baha’i and register for the free event online.

Here’s why you might find a rubber duck around campus

If you find a miniature rubber duck perched somewhere around campus, you’re not hallucinating.

Thomas Carroll is a sophomore studying organizational leadership, and he’s practicing those skills now with a unique way to spread encouragement to his peers.

It all started at Chick-Fil-A, where Carroll works, when some new team members were hired: “mental health rubber ducks” for workers to have a reminder to keep smiling.

“Ducks- especially miniature rubber ducks- are something that everyone can really have a happy connection to.”

Thomas Carroll

Carroll was inspired and started the quirky Instagram account at beginning of the 2021 fall semester. The content consists of mini rubber ducks: red, blue, green, yellow, and the collection is growing.

Posts are close-up pictures with just a background glimpse of where they might be hiding. If you’re lucky, there’s a hint in the caption.

Carroll said he and his mini friends have been everywhere on campus. Keep your eyes peeled for a duck near any of the main buildings, including Kettler Hall, Engineering, Neff Hall, Walb Student Union (don’t forget to check the cafeteria) and many more places. Hideout spots aren’t limited to the indoors, either– some ducks have been found chillin’ out in the snow.

Carroll said his followers have been enjoying the random duck content on their feed, and the social media account has created memorable interactions between him and other students.

One response that impacted Carroll was from someone reaching out to thank him, saying they found a duck just when they needed a pick-me-up that day.

“If nothing else comes from this– that’s perfect,” Carroll said.

The latest edition to the quest: when you find a duck, there may be a compliment or note of encouragement attached.

When you find a duck, you get not one, but two instant new friends–the duck, and Carroll! Make sure to message the Instagram account and let him know you succeeded.

You can follow the adventures of the rubber ducks at the Instagram account @pfwduck.

Spring into the biggest events of the semester

This news brief from the Summit City Observer breaks down some activities to look forward to on Purdue Fort Wayne’s campus as the semester wraps up.

If you like a challenge, free food, or hanging out with your friends, Spring Fling has it all this week. Get the scoop in the video, and check out details on the university’s website.

There’s a lot going on for PFW creatives through the month of April. We’re celebrating seniors in the interior design and fine arts programs with special exhibits.

Speaking of seniors, commencement is around the corner for the class of 2022. Where did the time go?

Mastodons can now connect on or off campus

A Purdue Fort Wayne initiative is using technology for good, keeping nearly every student informed and involved on campus. 

Students may recall getting frequent texts from an anonymous- and encouraging- chatbot. The weekly messages check in with how classes are going or what kind of help students might need to succeed during the semester. 

So far, 98% of enrolled students at PFW have opted in to receive this encouragement.

The mystery man behind the chatbot is Mitch Davidson, the associate vice chancellor and chief information officer at PFW. Davidson said he was looking for a way to keep students in touch with the campus community on a more engaging level than a generic email with a feedback survey.

Together with a team, he was able to make that connection happen in October.

Davidson is responsible for the technology on campus. Esports and computer labs are just a few of the places he works behind the scenes to help everything run smoothly. He has worked in higher education for 20 years, and eight of those at PFW.

He met with Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Carl Drummond and Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and the Student Experience, Krissy Creager. The two were impressed, and Davidson went on to get the service approved by Ronald Elsenbaumer, the chancellor himself.

There are representatives from many departments involved, including student life and leadership, advising, marketing, and more. The variety of input makes for a wide range of contributions for the details of the chatbot messages.

One text from February asked students what area they would like the most support in for the spring semester. Options included academics, finances, social engagement, and wellness. The chatbot sent a list of resources based on what area each student picked in response. 

The chatbot has a 24/7 individualized response to students’ replies- and in multiple languages.

Many of the texts allow a reply of yes or no, or a corresponding number. But some students have taken it a step further. Davidson shared a few of the responses gone rogue: “You’re my new buddy, don. Welcome to the family.” “Hi don, will you marry me?” 

“I like people with a sense of humor,” Davidson said, adding that feedback has been positive– which would account for the high percentage of students that are opted in and actively engaging with the texts.

More than 9,000 students enrolled at PFW have responded to the texts in the past three months alone, and over half of those that opted in reply consistently each time a text is received.

The end goal is to keep the text chain going as an immediate resource for students who are seeking help with school, campus life, or even just want someone to talk to. “We want to do anything we can do to assist you,” Davidson said, adding it is his intent to continue the chatbot after the full pilot year this coming fall. 

It’s safe to say this service isn’t going away any time soon.

Enhance the document that can land you a career

Chyanne Davis

The Career Development Center at Purdue University Fort Wayne offers many services that can help better prepare students for the work force. Resume and cover letter workshops are just one of the many events held for PFW students.

The resume service is important because you can’t get a job without one, said Tracey Hanton, assistant director of PFW’s Career Development Center.

“I think it’s important [to attend resume and cover letter workshops] because it’s an opportunity for a student to hear the whole of how to put this resume together,” Hanton said. “It’s also an opportunity for them to look at what they might have… an opportunity for them to ask their own individualized questions and then they can go back, make any adjustments they need to, then they can send it back to me and clarify that the corrections were what we discussed in the workshop.”

Resume and cover letter workshops are held throughout the school year, on campus and at the Student Housing Clubhouse. Students in the Endorsed or Passport to Success programs are able to earn career readiness points by attending the workshops.

Workshops for resume and cover letters are only available to current PFW students. However, alumni are welcome to make an appointment with Career Development Center to build resumes and cover letters.

Appointments can be made online, by emailing the Career Development Center at, or by calling (260) 481-0689. You can even make an appointment in person at Kettler Hall, Room 109 on PFW’s campus. There is also an option to email your resume directly to the Career Development Center for revision to

When you attend a resume and/or cover letter appointment, it is recommended that you bring a hard copy of your resume and cover letter to be reviewed.

COVID-19 precautions when attending an appointment of workshop consist of wearing a mask and social distancing when possible. If you are not able to attend a resume and cover letter workshop in person, you can also arrange to have a Zoom meeting of the workshop by emailing Tracey Hanton at

The website also has tips on how to create a resume, cover letter, and a LinkedIn profile. There are examples of resumes and cover letters available there as well.

If you need help with writing a resume or cover letter and you are a current PFW student or an alumnus, you can attend a workshop or make an appointment at the Career Development Center.


Purdue University Fort Wayne and Indiana University Fort Wayne are closing campus doors until next week.

Wednesday, February 2, Thursday, February 3, and Friday, February 4 there will be no on-campus classes due to the expected inclement weather.

Enjoy the snow days, and be safe!