- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 1, 2014

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Jeremiah and Missy Paschke-Wood and their daughter, Penelope, knew Lafayette was right for them even though moving here meant starting over in at least a half dozen different ways. Their cat, Hercules? He just came along for the ride.

“We’ve always been kind of adventurous in terms of life decisions,” said Jeremiah Paschke-Wood.

The past nine months have been one fast-moving lesson after another in embracing new beginnings as the Paschke-Woods became part of two of the area’s longstanding and most influential institutions.

The family moved to Lafayette in July 2013 after Jeremiah was offered a position at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette as an assistant professor of library science. Missy was named the executive director of Festival International de Louisiane a few months later.


‘WE LIKE PLACES THAT EMBRACE THEIR IDENTITIES’

Jeremiah Paschke-Wood was raised near Truth or Consequences, N.M., where his mom has been a school librarian for years. He started his career as a journalist but changed directions after about 10 years.

UL Lafayette was one of many universities he applied to after getting his master’s degree last spring at the University of Arizona in Prescott.

“Neither of us had been to Lafayette” before he flew out for an interview in June, he said.

They told friends and co-workers about the interview, and learned about all kinds of connections to the region. A couple of their friends in Arizona were from Baton Rouge. One of Missy Paschke-Wood’s co-workers at the Yavapai Humane Society, a veterinary technician, was from Lafayette.

“Everyone said we would love it here,” she said.

The couple met in Tucson; they’ve lived in Nanjing, China; Portland, Oregon; and Prescott, Arizona.

Less than a month after his interview at the university, Jeremiah and his father were in a U-Haul truck and Missy, Penelope, her mother and Hercules were in the family car, heading to Lafayette. Missy, born in Texas, still had never seen her soon-to-be new home.

Lafayette reminded them places they had lived before and liked, the couple said.

“We like places that hang onto to their identities, that embrace their identities. There are lot of places that don’t embrace their history,” Missy said.

“There are some places where everybody is from someplace else,” Jeremiah added. “Lafayette and New Mexico - where I grew up - are similar in that families have lived here for generations.”

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