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Community , Why NEPA?

Dr. Lalaine Little of Misericordia University – Why NEPA?

“The fresh air here is so wonderful. It’s probably my favorite thing. You wouldn’t really get it unless you came from a place where you’re in air conditioning all the time."

Lalaine Little is a Texas girl at heart. Well, kind of, I guess. You see, it wasn’t all country music, cattle ranches and tumbleweeds. She’s a city kid — born and raised in Houston. For young Laine, growin’ up was more about weekends at The Galleria (a giant mall), sneakin’ a little Pac Man Fever during piano lessons and stayin’ cool in the Bayou City’s climate-controlled subterranean paradise.

After high school, this middle-child of a proud Filipino-American family made her way to the University of Houston. Here, she found and fell in love with the world of art. She also found and fell in love with a boy. A swirl of world travel, graduate degrees and eventually careers ensued. She married the boy. They settled in NEPA. Soon, a couple of sweet kids entered the picture along with Buffy, a Golden Retriever/Vampire Slayer.

Today, Dr. Little’s dual roles at Misericordia have her splitting time between the classroom and the Pauly Friedman Art Gallery where she serves as Gallery Director. And while she’s come a long way in the world of contemporary art and curating exhibits, she proudly counts achieving mastery over the fine art of driving in the snow among her most prized accomplishments.

We caught up with Dr. Little inside the always-impressive Pauly Friedman Art Gallery. And, as she readied the walls for a new exhibit, she regaled us with coming-of-age tales bigger than the sky in Texas. And she also spared a moment for more serious questions, like Why NEPA?


How long have you lived in NEPA?

So, we moved here in the summer of 2005 – almost 20 years.

What do you love about your town?

So the best thing, which I totally didn’t appreciate until Covid actually, because, when all of my friends in cities were locked down, I could go out and walk to the river every day. Sometimes, I’d go twice a day. I was putting in lots and lots of miles because the Susquehanna is just gorgeous and I was so happy to have it so close by. And, you know, when we didn’t really know when the world was going to return to normal, I had that long walk to look forward to.

What’s your favorite NEPA restaurant?

I’m ready for this one (laughs). So, Saturday morning – Chuck’s in Luzerne. You got the Thursday night bar scene at Dugan’s Pub in Luzerne. Uhh… Sunday brunch, you can’t beat River Grille. For fancy eating, we go to Kevin’s. And, ok, this one is not exactly in Luzerne County, but do you know Bingham’s Restaurant? It’s just off 81. It’s like exactly halfway between my house and school when I was at Binghamton. They have the best pies. Excellent pies. Like really, really good pies (laughs). But since you’re forcing me to choose one…(pause) Oh boy. This breaks my heart. I’m going to have to go with River Grille. Their chicken and waffles are the closest thing to like Texas eating.

What’s your favorite thing to do in NEPA?

I love to walk. I love to hike. I love the changing of the seasons. I just discovered the Seven Tubs last summer, which was very good for the dog. She’s a Golden Retriever and she loves the water. But she doesn’t realize just how fast that water is, so it’s pretty hilarious to watch her kind of slip on the rocks.

What’s next for you?

I want to do as much travel as possible. I appreciate it so much more now since we’ve kind of come out of Covid. I’m on Duolingo every day. I’m working on five languages (laughs). For real, I’m working on French, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and I just started Chinese. But Chinese is really hard. I’m trying to see as many of these countries as I can. I did live in Japan for a while after my undergrad days and I spoke the language pretty well. But, I mean, I’m from Texas. I should at least be fluent in Spanish. And I’m not. That’s kind of a shame, I think. I’m not exactly fluent in many of these languages, but I can speak “menu” in like four different languages.

Where do you see NEPA heading in the future?

Oh wow, this is a tough one… I mean I am in touch with all these great young people every day here at Misericordia. And I’ve taught at King’s as well and I spent a little bit of time at Wilkes, too. I guess one thing that stands out, to me, is how the students here are so service-oriented. I think it’s partly why they come to school here. It’s a big reason why a lot of young people from all over the country are coming here to Misericordia specifically. They’re impressed by how we set up our curriculum and extra-curricular activities. And we recruit students who are drawn to lives of service. And I think that’s become more important especially now that we’ve found what the limits are of human interaction. You know? We’ve seen some real tests of our own kindness and just how kind we need to be to one another to literally keep the world going. And we’ve seen some really extraordinary things over the last few years in how students have rallied from like two years of isolation during their teenage years and now they’re back at school. They’re more eager and more curious. They want to learn everything. It’s just extraordinary. I’m so impressed not only with our students here, but with young people all over NEPA. I really do have high hopes for our future.


There’s something really fun about being one of very few folks in the area that do this. And, for a school this size to have a fully-fledged art gallery with a full-time curator who also serves as faculty, is really special. This is the kind of thing that you’ll find at huge schools like Texas A&M. Smaller schools don’t usually have these kinds of resources. This really shows the dedication of Misericordia and the mission and the Sisters of Mercy. And King’s College is the same way. It’s really impressive to see these smaller schools in this area with a mission to provide a high-quality education to students in an area that might not have the same resources as some other bigger cities. It really shows an incredible amount of dedication. And people really seem to appreciate the variety of the contemporary art that we bring here. You don’t have to go all the way to New York to get it. It’s right here. And people here are surprisingly experienced in art. I’ve talked to people who’ve been all over the world and worked in major cities around the globe and they appreciate seeing this kind of art right here at home.

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