Profile by Devon Davis (’18)
The Draw to English
Trish Dickert-Nieves started in the English program as a placeholder of sorts; she had to attend college, so beginning in the English program was an easy choice. Without any solid direction of what she wanted to do for the rest of her life, she studied for the sake of studying and for the sake of enjoyment without a “profession in mind.” She started taking classes in other majors that interested her, such as Philosophy and Criminal Justice, and this dabbling eventually earned her enough credits to result in a Philosophy minor. She tried many different classes and spoke of her time at Marywood as seemingly transformative and pivotal in how she would later connect with others in her community. She reminisced, “I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I loved the conversation I was having, and that alone was changing my world.” Looking back on her time spent at Marywood and of the more gratifying experiences, she recalled managing to balance such a heavy course load. She attributes her wide range of skills today to the diverse and numerous classes she had as an undergrad, claiming, “If I just focused on one thing, I’d probably end up in a different position then I am now”.
Terra Preta: Live Well, Eat Well
The professors of Marywood, more than anyone else, she cites as creating an environment where “there never once was a time where I felt too overwhelmed to really focus on myself and learn new things.” Being able to branch out and try multiple routes was made possible by the support of the Marywood community.
After graduation, fresh from the support of this tight-knit community, Trish fell ill for some time and started to focus on eating and living healthy. As she recovered, her father was looking into opening another restaurant in Scranton, and Trish took the opportunity to inspire her father to look into health food. Though it was never her intention to become involved in the restaurant business, she “ended up falling in love with the idea and visualizing and creating it,” so her father handed over the reigns, and Terra Preta was born. Conceptually, Terra Preta started out as a wellness center with a small health food element, but today Trish can’t imagine a world without Terra Preta the restaurant. She feels nothing but love for the restaurant that has opened so many doors. “We are able to use it as a vessel to reach out to the community and nonprofits, collaborating with different partnerships,” she explains.
While also being her biggest source of pride, Terra Preta is also how both Trish and her husband reach out to the community. They have worked with Catholic Social Services and the University of Scranton’s campus ministry office to reach out to refugees from Syria relocated to our area. Trish and her husband have the refugees create a menu from their home country, and they make the food for them in an effort to reconnect the refugees with homes they have left. Other organizations they work with through both fundraisers and collaboration include the Rainbow Alliance, The Women’s Resource Center, and Pennsylvania For Sustainable Agriculture. She credits Marywood with her ability to reach out to all of these organizations. “It’s a little bit of everything, which seems to go back to my studies,” she continues, “the broad range that I was able to cultivate while I was in school … I was then able to put in practice [here].”
Though most of her time is spent at the restaurant and working with the community, the small spare moments she gets are spent with family, her dog Rocky, and an unwavering dedication to staying healthy. She wished she had more time for creative pursuits and physical activities like yoga, dancing, and hula-hooping, but she stressed that spending time with family is “the most important thing” to do in almost non-existent spare time.
Advice for Undergrads?
Trish gave these bits of advice to current and future students of the English program: “Be aware of your time management,” “Leave time for social activities,”and “Get involved in activities on campus.” A former commuter, Trish regrets not being a bit more active with campus activities, as she advises students to “make sure you have time to enjoy [school].”