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Community , Why NEPA?

Angeline Abraham of Educational Opportunity Centers Inc. – Why NEPA?

“I came home. I found a great job that I love and I started my career. I’ve truly been blessed with great professional opportunities here.”

Almost 20 years ago, young Angeline Abraham left behind a solid 12 years-worth of adolescent familiarity in Newark, NJ and planted new roots in NEPA. She, her slightly younger sister and their Haitian-born mother settled in South Wilkes-Barre.

There was a bit of culture shock. It was decidedly quiet — noticeably absent the ever-present, muffled Manhattan soundtrack. And despite considerable differences, despite that “fish out of water” dread a 12-year-old might naturally feel in a new place, the self-professed shy and nerdy introvert made friends.

Angeline quietly excelled through her formative years at Meyers High School. She breezed through a degree in Social Work at Mansfield University. And, later even added a Masters from Temple University to the mix. Today, the young Assistant Director at Educational Opportunity Center in Edwardsville looks back humbly on those first few years in NEPA. She credits her iron-willed mother for inspiring much of her success – naturally. But she does also throw a shout out to NEPA for being a welcoming, friendly place – one generous with opportunity for those willing to reach out and grab it… One she’s happy to still call home.

We met Angeline for a chat and a smoothie at Nucleus Raw Foods in Luzerne (prior to new COVID mandates, of course). There she answered the age-old question – Why NEPA?

 

How long have you lived in NEPA?

Ok, let me do some math… came here when I was 12. I’m 31… So about 18/19 years, or so.

What do you love about your town?

Well, I’d say it’s all my town (all of NEPA). I haven’t explored Nanticoke all that much yet, so I can’t speak too much of it. I’m a homebody (nervously laughs). But… you know, within the professional community here, there’s a sense of closeness and support. I might not be as involved as I’d like to be. Maybe that’s a future goal of mine – to get involved with some of the stuff they’re doing with young professionals… but there is definitely a network of support that I know is there whenever I need it. I’m a graduate of Leadership Wilkes-Barre, and from there I was introduced to so many professionals in the community who really want to do good. You know, I’m not surprised it was Anthony Melf who recommended me for this interview (laughs). He’s always pushing me to get more involved in things. But that’s what I love in the local professional community. It’s that level of support – that sense of being part of a larger team. Personally, I’m getting more into hiking. I love exploring Ricketts Glen. And I love it that we’re essentially located where, if we want to access the mountains and trees and nature, we can, but if I also want to go to a city and go shopping, I only have to drive an hour or two. You can go do a day in the city and see a show, but then you get to come home.

What’s your favorite NEPA restaurant?

We’re sitting in it right now… Nucleus. I think they probably make the best smoothies around. I know I’ve tried every one on the menu at least once. And I do practice a plant-based diet, so, in many places I’m limited in what I can eat, but, here, I know there’s always something for me. And there are some other local spots I like, but this is definitely my go-to. I also like Harvest up at Montage. They have some great plant-based options. I love a lot of the local Thai restaurants and Pete’s Middle Eastern by Wilkes. I’ll run over there for a quick lunch sometimes. And Circles on the Square… They’re always good.

What’s your favorite thing to do in NEPA?

When it’s warm, I love the Yoga by the River in Wilkes-Barre that they offer on Saturday mornings. Not too many communities offer free, safe events like that. And I really appreciate that. I look forward to it all summer. Of course, I love going to Ricketts Glen. I enjoy walking and running along the dike. That’s basically what I look forward to during the warmer months. In the winter time, I’m more of a homebody, so I’m not venturing out too much in the winter (laughs). I went skiing once in 6th grade and I ran into a sign or something. I mean I’d probably try it again, but yeah, I’m not really into the winter activities.

What’s next for you?

Well… personally, I’m saving for a house. Who knows? That could happen in the next few months or maybe a year, but that’s definitely a long-term goal. Professionally, I’ve been in this Assistant Director position for about two years now and I feel that there’s still so much more for me to learn and accomplish. I’m growing as a leader and as a professional, but there’s still so much for me to learn. So, I think, still growing within my current position, within the agency, and gaining more experience – that’s the direction I’m going. You know, before I’m ready to move into other leadership positions, or leadership roles within the community.

Where do you see NEPA heading?

First things first, I think we have a wonderful group of young professionals coming up through the ranks, for lack of a better word. And I see that they want to be involved and they’re engaged in bettering the community. So, I think that with maybe these younger perspectives, or fresher perspectives, they’re bringing so much to our community. There are so many amazing and different professional events going on throughout the year and they’re always involved. They’re always a part of it. I see that incredible network of professionals growing, and hopefully, it will get to the point where more young people are coming out of college and they want to stay here – you know, where they’ll feel supported. I definitely see more diversity. I feel like our community is heading in that direction. When you go to conferences and into different, local businesses, you’re seeing different faces. That was not really the case when I came here when I was 12. I definitely see our community growing as far as diversity is concerned, but I want to see more of that in professional settings. That’s my hope. We have more and more people coming here every year from cities, from all over. And I’d definitely like to see more of that diversity within leadership roles in our community.

Why NEPA?

This community has been good to me overall. I’ve been able to grow and have a professional career and many opportunities. So, I don’t foresee myself leaving any time soon. It’s all about this community. There’s plenty of opportunities for everyone. And again, we’ve got that great location, where if I want to get a way for a bit, I can hop in the car and drive, but, just like that, I’m home.

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