Paola Jetzabella Kennah An example of courage by CARLOS MATÍAS
Paola Jetzabella is a “dream getter.” She came to Alaska at the age of 14. Today she has been in the state for 21 years and has built two “lives of her own” and contributed to many more of Hispanic, immigrant, African American, Asian, Native women... She helps them thrive in a world that is competitive and inequitable to them. Paola is a semi-finalist for Miss Alaska for America Strong 2022, a new category of Mrs. America Pageant, which will be decided on May 14. Whether she is elected or not, she will continue to work for the women of Alaska.
The Miss Alaska for America Strong pageant is a new category established 4 years ago to allow any women 18 years and older, who is a resident of Alaska, and is single, divorced or widowed, to compete. It’s recognized by the state and the mayor of Anchorage as an “official” pageant, with more prestige and a larger prize package. It upholds family values and community service.
Paola was born in Lima, Peru, and raised in Moyobamba, capital of the province of San Martin, in the Amazon of Peru. Until the age of 14 she lived with her mother, separated from her father. At that age, she came to Alaska to live with her father and attended East High School in Anchorage, the most diverse school in Alaska, and possibly in America, because it brings together students from over 100 different languages from all over the world. It is one of the most diverse educational centers on the planet, if not the most.
“It was an abrupt change,” she says, “as a woman raised in the Amazon rainforest, I suddenly found myself in an urban environment. Alaska is a state full of nature, but it’s not the Amazon. And Anchorage is a city. Language was an obstacle. But I made an effort to learn English and succeeded in ten months.”
Paola’s high IQ and outgoing nature did the rest. Her track record is replete with academic success. “I saw that people make community; they help each other,” she says, “and, although I wanted to study chemical engineering at 17, I volunteered and worked at Providence, the largest hospital in the state. I enjoyed biology and graduated with honors in Clinical Laboratory Science: the interpretation of analytical data for diagnosis.” Then, she continued her education and became a Physician Associate (PA-C) in 2018.
Paola was mentored by the same physician for four years and today she is PA Kennah, specialist in interventional pain management. Kennah is her married name, although she’s divorced. She has a daughter from her marriage. As a result, she has embarked on two lives of her own and many others, but not entirely unrelated. The first of her own, when she arrived in Anchorage, married an American, had her daughter and studied Clinical Laboratory Science and General Medicine. The second, when she divorced and started a new journey as a “single mother” and entrepreneur. This is her current life. The rest of the lives, the lives of others, which are not alien at all, are initiated when she gets involved to channel the lives of each woman she helps to make her way and start her own story. And she gives herself so thoroughly, so “open-heartedly,” that she leaves in each of these women a part of herself and of her own story. “I want to give back to society what it gave me when I needed it. Now I am the one who helps,” through a non-profit organization, in the process of being set up and already active: Envision La Vida. With her action “Dress for Success Alaska,” she provides women in need with the appropriate clothing to succeed, in a job interview to succeed, or in the “day to day” of work to thrive. Her motto, “Help our women in Alaska reach their dreams.”
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