Meet Jared Forts '98

Jared Forts '98 is a Sigma Phi Epsilon Brother from Valapariso University in Indiana. He graduated in 2002 with a Marketing degree and minor in Graphic Design, and is now an accomplished graphic designer and commercial photographer for his own business – Forts Studios. Jared lives in Central Ohio with his wife, Leah, and two daughters, Lucy and Audrey, and is one of Ohio Gamma’s treasured volunteers.

Now with a large portfolio of projects for clients in several industries including healthcare, construction, print production, jewlery design, and more, Jared’s journey began at a small family-owned company in Columbus, Ohio. “In my first official role as a Graphic Designer I was responsible for digitally editing, reconstructing, and printing duplicates of large theater backdrops,” he says of the beginning of his career, “Translation: they paid me to play around on Photoshop all day and print things on a gigantic printer. It was a pretty cool gig for a young kid fresh out of college.”

From there, Jared’s love for design and photography grew. He climbed the ladder of the corporate world until 2012, when he realized he was ready to make the jump and start his own company. “Sure, I don’t have the comfort of a 9-5 gig anymore. But that’s okay. When I see how my work directly impacts my clients I get more satisfaction than I ever had inside a cubicle.”

Jared is new to volunteering with Ohio Gamma, and has enjoyed using his skills to serve as a mentor for the chapter’s VP of Communications. “It feels good to be able to use the things that I have learned over the years to help my fraternity achieve its goals,” he says of his experience, “And selfishly, it’s enabled me to plug back into the fraternity after being away for over 20 years.”

Additionally, Jared has worked on the AVC Newsletter and is creating a digital archive of the chapter member composites. “By professionally photographing each of these composites in my studio we are building a digital archive that documents the history of the chapter. It also enables us to get rid of old frames to save storage space in the house.”

Jared attributes much of his personal growth to his years in Sigma Phi Epsilon, noting that the chapter helped him grow from a “shy kid into a confident young man.” He remembers his time living in the house fondly, and still has strong connections with his Brothers from 20 years ago.

He gives the following advice to any current undergraduates: “We as humans tend to be very future-focused, but sometimes we’re so focused on the future that we forget to appreciate what we have going on in our lives right now. Always appreciate the present. Wherever you are in life at any given moment, regardless of how stressful things seem to be at that time, someday future-you will look back on that time as the good old days. You owe it to yourself to live fully in the present because life moves faster than you can imagine."