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This article, as part of our Why NEPA? series, was contributed by The Scranton Plan as part of their Rediscover Scranton initiative.
“My favorite thing about NEPA is the access it provides to local attractions and major cities.”
In 2016, Stephanie Juarez-Ventura arrived in NEPA for her freshmen year at Marywood University. She left Mattawa, her tiny, south-central Washington town in the vast Columbia River Valley in search of something specific for her college town. She wanted to find a city, but not a huge city, somewhere with culture, an art scene, and she had to have access to nature and trails for running. When she arrived in Scranton, after traveling over 2,500 miles, she knew she had found it.
Stephanie excelled at Marywood as a student and as a top Cross-Country runner. She finished her tenure at the University with a double major BFA in Graphic Design and Advertising and Public Relations. Almost immediately, she landed a coveted internship at The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce. And, in less than a year, she flipped that opportunity into her current position as the Chamber’s Communications Manager.
For Juarez-Ventura, Scranton and all of NEPA, for that matter, have quickly become home. And she’s happy to begin her career in a place that so willfully welcomed her with open arms. She looks forward each day to giving back to the community. Whether it’s through her work at the Chamber, meeting and assisting its various, amazing members, volunteering, or through her love of art, Stephanie is determined to leave her mark on NEPA.
We caught up with Stephanie way back in February. And despite the frigid temps and seemingly endless snow, the Dunmore resident couldn’t help but light up the room as she took on the tough questions like Why NEPA?
What brought you to NEPA?
I came to NEPA in 2016 to attend Marywood University. I was looking for very specific things in a college and Marywood offered all of it.
How long have you lived in NEPA?
I have lived in NEPA unofficially since 2016. My first two years of college I stayed in the Marywood dorms and would go back to Washington, my home state, for the summer. In 2018 I got an apartment, a job outside of Marywood, and finally changed my ID from WA to PA.
What’s your favorite thing about NEPA?
My favorite thing about NEPA is the access it provides to local attractions and major cities. I come from a small town where you had to drive at least one hour to get to a city the size of Scranton. I also enjoy spending time outdoors and NEPA gives me plenty of options for running, hiking, and sightseeing.
Did anything surprise you by moving to NEPA?
I am very proud of my Mexican American heritage. Coming from a predominantly Hispanic community, I grew up with a strong sense of my own culture. The diverse culture in the region was new and surprising to me. I learned about different cultures in school but had never been directly exposed to them until I attended La Festa Italiana in downtown Scranton. I look forward to cultural celebrations every year as I continue to educate myself on the cultures that make up this region.
What’s next for you?
Having just graduated from college, I consider myself to currently be in that “next” phase of my life. At the start of 2020 I was an intern at the Chamber and have since been provided with a great opportunity to gain experience, network, and become a part of the community. I see the need for the work that we do for our members and I can contribute to that on another level as a Spanish speaking individual. Eventually I will have more goals to reach but for now I want to continue growing with the Chamber.
Where do you see NEPA heading?
During my time at Marywood I met very talented people, many of which continue to pursue their careers in the area. There is a new generation that is ready to work. Ready to bring innovation. Ready to grow with NEPA. Covid-19 has changed the way many do business, but community involvement has continued to grow. NEPA thrives on community whether that means volunteering, supporting small businesses, or planning and hosting events in the region. NEPA is headed towards a stronger community and workforce.
There are resources for just about anything you might need. Want to find something to do over the weekend? DiscoverNEPA has their weekend round-ups on their website and social media. Looking for a place to call home? NeighborWorks can help. Looking for new career opportunities? CareerLink has more than just job postings available for you. Starting a business or just want to grow your network? Reach out to the chamber and become a member.