This North Salem native left the University of Scranton with a bachelor’s degree and a new perspective on the world
By the time North Salem’s Natalie Intrieri graduated from the University of Scranton last May, she had racked up an impressive list of honors: Dean’s List, excellence in counseling and human services, member of Tau Upsilon Alpha Honor Society. One honor in particular though, participating in the school’s “Donning of the Stole” ceremony, stood out.
The Donning of the Stole ceremony celebrates and honors the accomplishments of U. of Scranton graduates from underrepresented identities. Participating in it was the first time Intrieri had so fully and publicly embraced her identity as a minority. Intrieri is a Chinese-born adoptive daughter to two White, American mothers.
“Growing up in this town and going to school with predominantly White students, that was all I knew,” Intrieri said. “But as I went through the past four years of my education, and becoming more aware of my identity and of marginalized groups, I became more attuned with being in the minority. Seeing more people like me became increasingly important.”
Intrieri acknowledged the irony of discovering her minority identity at a university with a majority White population, a racial makeup that mirrors that of North Salem. According to U.S.Census data, North Salem’s demographic makeup is 81% White; only 5.6% of residents identify as Asian. The University of Scranton is 74% White and just 4% Asian.
“I chose [University of] Scranton because of its program of study. I remember my mom saying, ‘are you sure you want to go there, it’s predominantly White?’” Intrieri recalled. “It didn’t matter to me at the time because that’s all I knew growing up.”
Two internships serving minority populations – one at a school for the deaf and another at a community center serving LGBTQ+ youth–served to shift Intrieri’s world view. “At the Scranton School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children I learned a lot about deaf culture and deaf education. Having to learn a different language, how to communicate with them and attend to their needs was very impactful to me,” Intrieri said.
Following that experience, Intrieri immersed herself in another marginalized group, working with at-risk LGBTQ+ teens at the Northeastern Pennsylvania Youth Shelter. “I provided a listening ear to them and helped them with anything they needed,” Intrieri recalled. During her time at the shelter, Intrieri became close with two students in particular, one trans male and one Black male. “We had a lot of conversations about what it means to be a minority,” she said. “That opened my eyes a lot, to discover that I know I want to help underprivileged people, and people in marginalized communities.” Intrieri noted that when she thought about the people she encountered at her internships to people she knew both in North Salem and at the University of Scranton, “we have just had privileges that many people don’t have.”
Now, Intrieri has her sights set on a new goal – pursuing a Master’s degree in social work. “I developed a passion for social justice and advocacy,” she said. Intrieri plans to enroll in a degree program beginning Fall 2023. In the meantime, she will work at Four Winds hospital in Katonah as a mental health worker.
“My goal in life is to make sure others are understood and listened to,” Intrieri said. “Hearing of the experiences that other people have gone through, that I will probably be fortunate enough not to experience, it makes me feel for them on some other level. I want to just help them or be there for them. That’s my main motivator.”
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