Whether speaking about the friendly nature of the citizenry, the incredible recreational opportunities that abound, or the often overlooked convenience of getting to and from home, local young professionals have high praise for Rochester.
‘There is a giving spirit’
Even after living in the Rochester region for more than 14 years, Shaquana Divers easily recalls what she noticed first when she moved to her adopted hometown: the generosity of the people.
“What I love most about living in Rochester is the kindheartedness of the people,” says Divers, a program manager at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Center for Community Health. “There is a giving spirit among the people, even in those who may not have much to give in a material sense.”
The philanthropic spirit that is evident in individuals also can be seen among organizations throughout the region.
“You can see it in the many different agencies and not-for-profit groups and coalitions in and around Rochester,” says Divers, 40. “People here genuinely want to give back and are always looking for ways to make the community stronger.
The energy here is really very positive.”
Divers also appreciates the region’s tremendous recreational opportunities, which she believes are crucial as people begin to place a bigger emphasis on bettering their own lives.
“I’m very passionate about self care,” she says, citing her work to develop programs designed to improve wellness throughout the city of Rochester.
“I think taking care of ourselves is fundamental to our health,” says Divers, who is a 2015 Forty Under 40 honoree. “These are really trying times for our world, nation and community. More than ever, we have to take good care of ourselves and we need to be unapologetic about it. The new, cool thing is tending to your well being, having hobbies and removing negativity from your life.”
Fortunately, the Rochester region offers plenty of options to aid in that endeavor.
“We have great city and county parks where you can go out and get in touch with nature,” Divers says. “There’s science behind that. We also have many libraries and recreation centers that aren’t necessarily fee-based. People need their peace, and Rochester provides many ways to find sanctuary.”
‘So much to offer’
While vacationing this fall with friends in Las Vegas, Melissa Dempsey Daminski spent some leisure time thinking about what she really enjoys about the Rochester region, her home for more than a decade. After living in city neighborhoods such as East and Park avenues, the suburbs of Brighton, and the more rural Mendon, the 2012 Forty Under 40 alum has seen the area from many different perspectives.
“My friends and I talked about it for quite awhile,” says Daminski, who grew up in much smaller Potsdam, N.Y., but who also has lived in England and traveled extensively on the international scene.
“We concluded that Rochester is a really good city for doing so many different things. Even in the course of a weekend, you can be at a lake, go to the trails in Perinton, attend a Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra concert, and have a five-star meal all in one day. I think that’s really what has kept me here for so long.”
As a high school student, Daminski considered moving to the area to attend Eastman School of Music, but instead enrolled at Rochester Institute of Technology. Now 29 and with a toddler in tow, she appreciates Rochester’s convenience more now than before she became a mother.
“Our region really has so much to offer in terms of true recreation, leisure and hobbies, all accessible within a short drive,” says Daminski, an electrical engineer at Harris Corp. who works on products produced for the U.S. Department of Defense. “We have world-class art, culture and education, and then we have pretty good everything else. It’s a great combination.”
Daminski isn’t the only member of her family who has taken a shine to the region.
“My mom grew up in Chicago, so she’s a big-city girl,” Daminski says. “She moved here from Potsdam when I had my son. She’s more immersed in Rochester than I am now. She loves it.”
‘It’s great to call Rochester home’
David Tang was born and raised in the Rochester area and to this day feels a special connection to his hometown.
He was born in 1977 to parents who were employed as professors at the University of Rochester. When he was 13, Tang’s mother and father accepted positions working for the federal government and the family moved to Maryland, where he finished high school.
It wasn’t long, though, before New York brought Tang back into the fold.
“I came back in 1995 for college at Cornell University in Ithaca, where I met my wife, Olena,” says Tang, 39. “I worked in New York City for three years and returned to Upstate New York to attend law school at Syracuse University.”
In 2005, Tang returned to the Rochester area, settling in Perinton. Having passed the bar exam, he began practicing law with Underberg and Kessler. Home in Rochester, “I have found there is a terrific, collegial environment within the local legal community, which for me is very satisfying on a professional level,” he says. “After living or working in other cities, such as New York City and Washington, D.C., I also realize how great my commute is. I love the traffic situation, or lack thereof, and free parking.”
Like Divers, Tang finds Rochesterians to be friendly and generous. “It was not a surprise to me to learn that our city ranks near the top statistically in volunteerism in the country,” says the 2013 Forty Under 40 honoree.
“There are so many service organizations and health care and financial institutions in town that help make this area a great place in which to live. Our city has an awesome history of and reputation for innovation, which, as a native Rochesterian, is something I’m proud of.”
And, like Daminski, Tang has taken note of the “many great things to do, see or visit here—the lakes, the parks, the cultural and arts institutions and so many wonderful neighborhoods,” he says. “My wife and I love our school district and exploring the area with our kids. It’s great to call Rochester home.”
Travis Anderson is a Rochester-area freelance writer.
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