“It just feels like home.”
NEPA has always been home for Jaclyn Victor. The 22-year-old College and Career Advisor at Greater Nanticoke Area High School delights in the harmonious balance of suburban quiet and small-town bustle. She’s fresh out of King’s College with an affinity for history, government and politics. And she’s certainly not shy about dropping hints of a very possible future in public service.
Jaclyn has quite the resume. She’s crushed it in internships with the PA Dept. of State, the State House and the Governor’s office. She also currently puts in hours with the America250PA Commission. Jaclyn credits Barack Obama’s historic 2008 presidential run for inspiring her political aspirations way back in the 5th grade. Oh, and she also hung out with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
We met Jaclyn for a coffee at Nanticoke’s Grateful Roast. We got a glimpse of her and her family’s fascinating story, and we just had to ask… Why NEPA?
How long have you lived in NEPA?
My whole life. So, what is that – like 22 years and 11 months… (laughs)
What do you love about your town?
I think the connection is huge – being able to have that community. I know a lot of people hate this, but I love going to the grocery store and seeing like five people I know and just spending a minute catching up with them. So, I don’t know if that makes me weird, but I just think it’s nice to see people and it’s nice to connect with them and to have that community support. That’s always been big for me. I also love the area. I think it is really an ideal area to be in with just the proximity to New York City, Philadelphia and D.C. Here, you have all of that flexibility, but you’re still able to enjoy more of a suburban life, I guess. And of course, the scenery – obviously. When I have family visiting from other places, they’re always amazed by the valley and the mountains and all the green. I think we overlook that sometimes.
What’s your favorite NEPA restaurant?
I would have to say China House. It’s right next to Weis in Nanticoke. I mean, I love pizza and all of that, but anytime I get Chinese food anywhere else, especially outside the area, nothing measures up to it.
What’s your favorite thing to do in NEPA?
Honestly, I’m a little bit of a foodie as well. So, I love checking out different restaurants all over NEPA and just hanging out with my friends. We do spend a lot of time in the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton areas. In Nanticoke, honestly, it’s really about the food. There’s not really that one hangout spot that you’re going to go to, but just like coming to grab a coffee at Grateful Roast. That’s kind of an outing for us.
What’s next for you?
So, I still have one more year in my position at Nanticoke (High School). Hopefully, I will be able to talk to my students, especially if we’re going virtual. I hope to still be able to inspire my students, not only if they want to go to college, but also if they wanted to explore other avenues that might be a good fit for them. And, in the future, like I said earlier, I’d like to run for office one day, or at least be in a position or a place where I can help people in this area. And, I know it’s easy for other people to want to leave the area, and maybe pursue other options, but I always thought that maybe I’m here for a reason. I always looked at it that way. So, I would like to have some sort of positive impact on the area. Whether that’s in politics or something else, ultimately, I just want to leave my mark.
Where do you see NEPA heading in the future?
I’d love to see more small businesses and more economic development in the area. Also, I’d like to see more young people staying in the region and trying to create a life here. And, I think we’re creating that — a space where young people want to stay, and they want to raise their own families in this area. I also hope to see NEPA become more multicultural and to be a more inclusive area. And I think we’re starting to see more signs of that as well, so I’m excited to see what the future holds for us.
So… a lot of it has to do with my parents. People always ask me, “How in the world did your parents come from India to Nanticoke, specifically, or Northeastern Pennsylvania?” So, my dad’s family moved here because one of his aunts was already here studying. My grandfather was a Lutheran Minister. He was the pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church on State Street. So, that’s just a short version of how they all ended up here in Nanticoke. My other uncles and aunts, they’ve all left the area, but my parents loved it here. They had great jobs here. So, they decided to stay. But I always think to myself, “How crazy is it that they could have ended up here out of all the places in the world?” And, it makes me think that maybe I’m meant to be here, in a way. So, I’ve always looked at it from that perspective — even when I’ve thought about potentially going somewhere else. I guess, ultimately, it’s easy to go somewhere else and think that your life would be better, but why not stay? Try it out. See what you can do to make it better.