Why I chose to move to Utah

Sorting Mixed Perceptions: Music educator sings Salt Lake City’s praises


With a Ph.D. in Performance Practice: Voice and a Master of Music degree, Dr. Raymond Tymas-Jones has dedicated his life and career to arts education and music. A well-respected figure within the national arts community, he was approached to be the new dean for the University of Utah's College of Fine Arts.

Through my involvement with professional associations, I was familiar with the quality of the professional arts organizations in the region and regarded the arts offerings at the University to be among the best. However, my perception of Utah as a place to live was that of an ultraconservative environment, dominated by a stalwart religion that was intolerant of individuals who did not practice the same.

Cautious not to make a decision based on perception, and impressed by the University’s outstanding history of and commitment to arts education, I decided to accept the position.

After nearly five years of living and teaching in Salt Lake City, I have found a great community in which to live. The individuals among whom I live, teach and socialize, are tolerant, welcoming and committed to having the arts central in their lives.

~Dr. Raymond Tymas-Jones, Dean, University of Utah—College of Fine Arts


“There are so many opportunities here as well as a growing community that has realized the importance of embracing diversity.”

~Javier Leon, Branch Manager, Zions Bank

FromFostering to Embracing Diversity
Born in Mexico City, but having spent his youth in Utah, Javier Leon decided to relocate his family from San Diego, CA to Salt Lake City for a better quality of life.

I moved to Utah from Mexico City when I was 17 years old to go to school and learn English. At that time, Utah was a very conservative state with little to no diversity. After completing my schooling, I got married and my wife and I moved to San Diego to explore a new life there. 

Once my wife and I started our family, we knew we wanted to move back to Utah. We felt a city like Salt Lake City would provide a safer environment for our children and offer more employment opportunities.

Returning to Utah almost 12 years later, we immediately noticed a difference in the community. There was a level of racial and ethnic diversity that was not present in the population decades ago. It was when my career path led to Zions Bank that I really began to notice the increase in diversity. My clients are from countries all around the world—India, China, Korea, Japan and Mexico—and are trying to start new businesses here in Utah. Prior to leaving the state the first time, my English-Spanish bilingual skills were not viewed as something of value; today, that is not the case. The diversity in the local market has now put my talent in high demand.

It also used to be that chain stores like Albertson’s were the only option for grocery shopping. Today, you can drive through neighborhoods like Rose Park and find numerous ethnic restaurants and shops, from African and Polynesian to Hispanic. I truly believe that anyone who comes to Utah can make it; there are so many opportunities here as well as a growing community that has realized the importance of embracing diversity.

~Javier Leon, Branch Manager, Zions Bank

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