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Larissa Ciuca talks with a student outside.

Higher education and community are things that have always been important to Larissa Ciuca.

So when she came to Penn State Beaver in 2007, it was a perfect fit.

Ciuca is the campus’ personal and career counselor, and she draws on her prior experiences working with students at Duquesne University and La Roche College to help students at Beaver campus deal with life during and after college.

Ciuca said she always felt drawn to higher education. “That’s truly the environment and population I feel I can best support,” she said.

At first glance, Ciuca appears no different than the hundreds of born-and-raised Pittsburghers among the faculty, staff, and students on campus.

But when you listen to her talk, you might notice a slightly more rapid speech pattern that hints at something different.

And if you get the opportunity to hear her speak Spanish to a Spanish-speaking student, well, you just know that Ciuca is not originally from western Pennsylvania.

Ciuca is actually from Ponce, Puerto Rico, and came to the Pittsburgh area 11 years ago to attend Duquesne University.

“I was from a different culture,” she said, adding that everything was different, from the language to the climate.

But even though she’s spent time in places around the world, Ciuca said she still likes the small, community environment that she’s found at Penn State Beaver. People on campus are so close that Ciuca joked it takes her half an hour just to walk down the hall and get a cup of coffee because she stops and talks to everyone along the way.

”It’s truly just such a close-knit community.”


Originally written by Matt Jones '10 for the Penn State Beaver Nittany News alumni magazine, Spring 2011.