"I had to kind of get used to looking up and seeing the stars here, and that was pretty cool."
Kendra Robinson grew up in Queens. She’s not afraid to admit that she’s a city girl through and through. She’s also not afraid to put her beloved New York pizza up against any NEPA creation (lookin’ at you Old Forge). Honestly, though, with 15 years in the Electric City under her belt, she admits, many of NEPA’s odd perks (square pizza included) have kind of grown on her.
In 2006, Kendra stopped by the University of Scranton on a college visit. And, in the exact moment she sat pondering her possible future in this place, she heard that old steam train roll by. It was enough. She fell in love. She enrolled. And she stayed. Of course, the mountains and the trees helped.
Kendra finished up her undergraduate and graduate work at The U. She went right to work, building a career in counseling. First, it was the pizza. Then, it was the fresh air and abundant nature. Eventually, she also found herself falling in love with her community. I think I even heard her say, “Heyna.”
There’s more to this story. And we were dead set on hearing it. So, we snagged a rainy-day coffee date at Scranton’s Blackwatch Café. There, we quizzed Keystone College’s Assistant Director of Counseling and Well-Being on her shift from the “big city” to our little, big city. And, of course, we had to ask, Why NEPA?
How long have you lived in NEPA?
Um… like fifteen years. I came here for college in 2006, and I stayed. It’s kind of crazy to realize it’s been fifteen years already (laughs).
What do you love about your town?
Well, there’s a lot of things. There’s the bigger cities that are so close by, obviously like New York and Philly. We really are centrally located here. There is so much to do within like 2-3 hours. And, like I said before, I love the accessibility to the outdoors. I’m very much a city girl and I’ve grown to have much more appreciation for nature here. I really enjoy those silent moments when I’m out hiking and I just look around and take it all in. It’s awesome. Also, of course, I love all the cute little shops around town. There’s definitely a lot of niche things and variety in the types of shops we have here. I recently discovered The Copper Pyramid in Avoca while holiday shopping. It’s such a cute shop. And the owner is so nice.
What’s your favorite NEPA restaurant?
Ok. So, I love a lot of different places. And, depending on my mood, or the food I’m craving, that changes. I love Thai Rak Thai. They’re fast and it’s always delicious. I also love 3 Jacks Burger Bar in Dunmore. They have such a wide variety of burgers, and I’m working on trying them all – especially the burgers of the month (laughs). Henry’s on Clay is another good one. I love going there for breakfast or brunch. Oh, another one that my fiancé reminded me of (which he loves) is Khan’s in East Stroudsburg, I believe. They’re so sweet and they cook everything right there in front of you. And you get really full when you go there (laughs). But if you make me choose a favorite, I’d have to say 3 Jacks. I just love burgers and they do them well.
What’s your favorite thing to do in NEPA?
This one is hard as well (laughs). I work a lot. Um… I like hiking. Like I said, I’m still a bit of a city girl. So, my fiancé is determined to get me out there. We enjoy the Delaware Water Gap area. We do a lot of hiking down there on the weekends. And, of course, we love visiting a lot of wineries and cideries and breweries in the area. We go to Space Time Cidery a lot. They’re so friendly. That’s kind of a theme here. I don’t know if you’re noticing (laughs). I get together with friends and coworkers and go to like Maiolatesi Winery. It’s a great place to relax with a glass of wine and have a chat.
What’s next for you?
I want to continue my professional development. I want to continue building my skills and learning – especially supervising new counseling professionals and interns at Keystone. I want to continue to help people in this community. Obviously, throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen how it’s been more of a struggle for people to get through everything. And I feel like that’s going to continue to be my focus, considering that mental health and well-being are so important. It’s a big part of who I am. Helping and counseling is part of me. And, of course, I plan on spending more time with my loved ones and planning our wedding.
Where do you see NEPA heading in the future?
I can see Northeastern Pennsylvania continuing to grow and build toward its future. I’ve definitely seen the diversity in the area grow in the time that I’ve been here. And I hope that keeps going in that direction. There’s also been an influx of younger professionals here that is contributing to that change. And, because we have so many colleges in this area — I mean you can throw a stone and hit a school (laughs) – I hope we can continue to get more and more of those graduates to stay. I think that’s the key to moving forward. I mean, it’s obviously happening. I can see it. I just hope it continues.
Ok. So, I think this is the real tough question. It makes you think of that whole process of why you choose to live where you do. And that’s not always easy. But, for me, I think it’s because Northeastern PA has provided me with wonderful opportunities. I’ve made so many different friendships. I’ve experienced so many different adventures. I got my education here. I found love here and ultimately another place to call home. All of that together has made me want to stay here. Honestly, I just think it’s a good place to be and a good place to live and raise a family. And I’m looking forward to all of that.