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Dr. Carole Baddour of Wilkes University -- Why NEPA? image
February 13, 2024
Dr. Carole Baddour of Wilkes University -- Why NEPA?
Jonathan Davies

“It was for love – that’s how I ended up here.”

Dr. Carole Baddour grew up in the great snowy north. No. Not Tunkhannock. She was born and raised in the relatively major academic and healthcare hub of London, Ontario. Let’s triangulate – it’s a midpoint, roughly centered between Detroit, Toronto and Buffalo (if that helps). Early life for Carole was mostly city livin’. But there was enough green, she admits, to still get outside and dirty your jeans.

As a teen, she accompanied her professor father to work. Witnessing his passion for teaching and for his students inspired 15-year-old Carole. She decided, right then, that not only did she want to teach, she also wanted to be an engineer – a rare and serious case of focus for a teenager. She went on to earn her BS and MS in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering from Western Ontario University. From there, she was off to Montreal to earn a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from McGill University.

It had all worked out. Carole was teaching in Montreal. Life was good. But then the “stars aligned” (met her husband) and she took a “leap of faith” (moved to NEPA) and saw her first real, live deer (in Laceyville). That was eight long years ago. Dr. Baddour and her husband now live in Dallas – a little closer to her job at Wilkes University, where, despite truly missing that daily “double-double” from Timmies and “real” maple syrup, she’s still spreading that unbridled passion for engineering.

We caught up with Dr. Baddour at a popular campus coffee shop back in December. She connected the dots on her journey from Canada to NEPA and waxed poetic about our stunning natural spaces and our kind people. And, honestly, even a little flattery will get you pretty darn far with us, but it won’t help you escape that inevitable question – Why NEPA?


How long have you lived in NEPA?

I’ve been here for eight years.

What do you love about your town?

Well, for Dallas, I love the quiet. The environment is so peaceful, but yet you still have that convenience of being close to things. So again, I kind of tie this back to being the city girl, because I’m used to having everything kind of around me and within walking distance. And in Dallas, I feel like everything is at least nearby. So, you know, basic things, right? You need the grocery store, the pharmacy, the coffee shop — everything is nearby, but yet you can live in a location where everything is kind of spread out. So, I love that. I love the environment. I love the fact that if you do want a very big city, it’s not far. So, location, the actual location of Dallas and the Northeastern PA is a beautiful location because New York is around the corner, Philadelphia is around the corner. And the border is around the corner. For me, that’s important to say that specifically because I still have family across the border. So, it’s easy for me to cross the border. We usually go through Buffalo. It’s easy to get there from NEPA. And I can stock up on some maple syrup and then come back. Don’t tell that to my parents, though (laughs). That’s not the only reason I go home.

What’s your favorite NEPA restaurant?

Ok, so this is a real tough one because I don’t have just one favorite. So, I’m going to give you a list – if that’s ok (laughs). It all depends on what I feel like eating. I adore Valenti’s in Exeter. They have great Italian food. It’s a great environment and the family running the place are just wonderful. For Middle Eastern or Mediterranean food, there’s Istanbul Grill or Theo’s Metro. I love them both so much. They’re two of my favorites. I think those three are really at the top of my list. And there are many more, of course, but yeah those will be the top of the list for me. But you’re making me choose, so I will probably say Istanbul Grill. I just love it. Everything is always so fresh and delicious and they’re always so nice.

What’s your favorite thing to do in NEPA?

I end up walking a lot. I know it sounds kind of silly to say this, but I love walking, especially in the area where we live in Dallas. We’re near the Huntsville Reservoir. It’s such a beautiful area. I feel very lucky to be connected to it. So, I like to take nice, long walks. Frances Slocum State Park is another one of my favorite places to walk (laughs). I know… I do a lot of walking. It’s a different kind of walking from where I grew up in the city. Here, it’s a much quieter environment. I can hear the birds, which is great!

What’s next for you?

Ok. There’s a lot. From a professional standpoint, it’s about continuing my work. As an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and an Associate Dean of the College of Business and Engineering, I do a lot of work with students and also a lot of work in the industry. And I’m trying to bring those two together. Because, it makes me so sad to see talented graduates leave the area because there is so much opportunity here and it’s so beautiful here and the people are incredible. I would like to continue to foster that relationship between students and local employers. I’m very fortunate that I work with a few industrial advisory boards that are linked to the university. And I found that the representatives of these companies are so invested in our community and in wanting to help our students. These companies are doing great work here. And everyone is always so helpful and wants to see our students succeed. So, I want to make sure our students learn to realize the potential of our area. And, slowly but surely, I think that’s coming. We’re seeing more and more students right now applying for local jobs and opting to stay.

On a more personal level, I recently completed Leadership Northeast’s Amplify Program.  It was one of the most amazing experiences I’d ever been through, and I hope to continue. So, in terms of what’s next, I do believe they have a Core Program. That’s the “big one.” Maybe not next year perhaps, but maybe the following year. It’s all about learning. I’m a learner for life. Whether it’s for my discipline in Engineering, learning more about the area and the people here, I just love to learn. So, I guess that’s a big part of my future.

Where do you see NEPA heading in the future?

Northeastern PA is going places. It’s growing. And there’s no doubt that as the amount of people grows, more businesses are coming in, more restaurants are opening. It’s all growth and success – those are always the two words I generally associate with Northeastern PA.


I have an acronym for it – PEO. It stands for the People, the Environment and the Opportunities. Those three reasons are my Why NEPA?

So, for the people, it’s the culture, the attitude, their outlook — just the fact that everyone is so kind and friendly. It’s a whole, complete package. The people here are this whole, unique package of real and nice and honest. That’s hard to find.

When it comes to the environment, we are so blessed to have what we have around us. We’re always so close to nature. In 20 minutes, you can be skiing. Not me (laughs). I’m a Canadian who doesn’t ski. I know. Also, in a matter of two hours or so, we can be in New York or Philadelphia. It’s just our location. It’s gorgeous and it’s also convenient to a lot of things.

And then there’s opportunity. Again, remember that my mindset here is with my students. For them and for the younger generations that are growing up here, they have tremendous opportunities with the quality of the schools we have here. They have their growth, their studies, their future jobs – those opportunities are there. And not only are they there for them, but the opportunity is there for people like me who came from another country. It’s there for anyone moving from another area, looking to relocate and find a job. The employers are here. The opportunities are here. The willingness is here. That’s what I mean when I say opportunity.