Adorned with colorful illustrations and song lyrics from her favorite musicians on her skin and sparkling jewels on her ears, septum, nostril and philtrum, the Archbald resident cloaks herself in a signature style from her black winged eyeliner to her five-inch platform boots.
When she’s not bartending, serving or connecting with her customers at Ale Mary’s at the Bittenbender in Scranton, Yanoski’s near-daily accessories also include a lab coat for her graduate classes in biochemistry at University of Scranton. Each day, Yanoski weaves seemingly unrelated interests into the tapestry of her life as she pursues her lifelong dream of working as a physician.
“I love the way cells look under a microscope. It’s the most amazing thing to see,” she said on a recent afternoon. “There’s nothing more beautiful to me than that cells will develop into living, breathing things. I want nothing more than to wake up and put on my scrubs to be there for what can be someone’s best day or worst day. I know I am meant to be there for both kinds of people.”
Growing up in the Midvalley, Yanoski would tend to ailments of her stuffed animals and dolls and use her family’s dryer to take pretend X-rays. Her mom, Terri Yanoski, and dad, Ron Yanoski, along with the rest of her ever-growing family, always encouraged her dreams.
“My family is just beyond supportive, and I am so blessed to have them,” she said. “My mom taught me that, if I fall, how to get up quickly, gracefully and gratefully, and my dad taught me how to go after what I want, to keep pushing and never take no for an answer.”
As a student at Valley View High School, Yanoski branched out into other interests she eventually folded into her goal of working as a physician. She took Spanish classes and was enamored by not only the language but also the education style of her teacher, Stephanie Copeland.
“She was amazing and the best teacher I’ve had in my life,” Yanoski said, adding she is fluent in Spanish and works as a translator at U of S’s Leahy Community Health and Family Center. “She incorporated culture, music and art into the typical grammar and conjugation. It was completely immersing.”
After graduation, Yanoski went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Quinnipiac University. While completing an internship at a medical clinic in Spain, Yanoski was the only person able to help a Dutch tourist in pre-term labor. The woman spoke only some English and no Spanish, so then-19-year-old Yanoski was tasked with communicating with the woman, including conveying to her that the baby had just a 20 percent chance at surviving. As someone who considers herself emotional, Yanoski knew she had to remain cool and collected when delivering the news.
“The hardest thing I had done in my life at that point was pass organic chemistry. I had no idea how I was going to handle it,” she said, adding that the woman delivered a healthy baby boy. “If I am freaking out when I tell her this, it’s only going to make it worse for her.
“It was in that moment that all my fears about that part of being a doctor went away. I knew I could do this. I knew I was meant for this.”
She also knew she wanted to teach in some capacity. Yanoski worked as a teaching assistant at Quinnipiac and traveled three times on service trips to Nicaragua, where she taught English to children. Yanoski knew the children she taught lived in dire circumstances, but experiencing it opened her eyes and heart even more.
“Humbled is an understatement. It doesn’t do (the feeling) justice,” she said. “I became very empathetic to just all walks of life, and things that once seemed like a big deal just seemed so insignificant and petty.
“I can paint (my students’) faces perfectly. Everyone I met abroad touched me so much.”
Yanoski moved back to Nicaragua three weeks after graduating from college to teach full-time for about three to four months. She aims to return as soon as she can to teach and also vows to one day practice medicine abroad. She hopes to create an organization that provides medical care and resources to places in the world that need it most.
“I’ve seen what happens in areas where there’s lack of access to even semi-adequate care, and it’s startling,” Yanoski said. “Everyone should have access to adequate health care.”
For now, Yanoski works as a teaching assistant for undergraduate classes at U of S and loves to engage with the students. Understanding what it’s like to be in their shoes and that they deal with dense, complicated material, she isn’t too harsh. She incorporates pop-culture references, internet memes and quirky bonus questions into her lessons to make the material more tangible.
“I love the moment you see them get it and you watched that happen from beginning to end,” she said. “That was something I found sets me on fire the way that medicine does.”
Yanoski uses her eclectic interests to chase her passions with the compassion of a doctor and the soul of an artist.
“I am so inspired by great art and really amazing music,” she said. “And I know not everyone thinks biology or chemistry is cool, but I love it and I think it’s so beautiful, really. I am a science nerd, but I’m not like the typical science nerd. I think it all can be art if you’re doing something you love and you are putting everything you are into it.”
At home: An Archbald resident, she is the daughter of Terri Yanoski and Ron Yanoski. Her family also includes siblings, twins Hannah and Ronnie; grandparents, Linda and Francis Burke, Erminia Muto and Ron Yanoski Sr.; uncle, Brian Burke; her father’s fiancee, Chrissy, and her daughter, Brittney; and dogs, Tallulah and Daisy.
At work: She is pursuing a master’s degree in biochemistry and is a teaching assistant at University of Scranton. She also is a Spanish translator at U of S’s Leahy Community Health and Family Center and a bartender and server at Ale Mary’s at the Bittenbender, Scranton.
Inspirations: Music; bands, A Day to Remember and the Story So Far, and musicians Adele, Amy Winehouse and Florence Welch; Frida Kahlo and her art; her students; people she met abroad; and her family, especially her parents
Aspirations: To be a physician, specifically an obstetrician; to create an organization that gets medicine and resources to places that need it the most; to be a wife and mom; to foster or adopt children; and to stay close with her siblings (“I never want to have a holiday apart from them,” she said.)
Diversions: Walking her dog, hiking, the mountains, nature, being outside, going to concerts, live music, singing, drawing and making jewelry
Aversions: Closed- and narrow-mindedness, racism, xenophobia, disrespect and people who are anti-immigration (“Those that feel they are above taking time out of their day to understand the plight of others and instead are ignorant, or even angry, toward people they have never met,” she said.)
Quote: “The people I’ve met are the wonders of my world.” — Adele, “Hometown Glory”