It all started in the winter of 2003, when Marcela Cubas, a 20-year-old student at the University of Lima in Peru, was approached by her friends to spend a summer (Utah’s winter) in Park City working at the ski resort.
At first, Marcela wasn’t so sure. The new adventure was appealing, but so was enjoying Lima’s warm coastal weather. She chose the former.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the experience, but I ended up really liking Park City,” Marcela says. “I met many people from different countries and found a really vibrant community. It was so much better than I was expecting.”
That first winter she worked at Park City Mountain Resort before returning to Lima to continue studying. The following year, she decided to come back to Park City for a second season. The cycle continued until she graduated from college and was offered a full-time position in human resources at Marriott Vacation Club.
“I had to make a decision at that point: Should I move to Utah, try a different place in the U.S., or move back to Peru?” she remembers, adding that in South America, Utah is not well known. “You will hear more about places like New York, Los Angeles, or Miami.”
Luckily for Marcela, she had gained permanent U.S. residency through her mother’s work a few years prior, so she was able to look at job opportunities in different places.
“I loved it in Park City, and it really felt like a hidden gem at that time, so I figured why not try it out full time,” she says.
Marcela worked at the Marriott and the Hotel Park City for a few years before moving to Arizona to get an MBA at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. She also met her now-husband, Philip. The couple moved back to Peru for a short stint before settling in Park City five years ago with their two daughters, Isa and Tina, and their three pets.
Despite the uncertainty that comes with moving to a new country, Marcela says she didn’t just find a community in Park City, but a home.
“Park City is like a melting pot. There are people from different countries and from all over the U.S. who are well-traveled and open-minded,” she says. “I love connecting with people who love to explore and are adventurous.”
Marcela worked for the Sundance Institute for three years before co-founding Global Citizens, an admissions consulting company that helps Latin Americans access the best graduate programs in the world. Marcela and her business partner Vanessa, a Peruvian living in Boston, help young professionals navigate the graduate admissions process and secure access to some of the top graduate programs in the world.
“In the future, we want to expand into services to connect U.S. students and the Park City community with experiential trips to learn about the business and mindset of different cultures,” she says, adding that she’s all about connecting cultures to encourage empathy and understanding. “Global Citizens combines who I am, what I know, and what I’m passionate about.”
Outside of work, Marcela, her husband, and their two daughters love exploring Park City by foot and bike, sometimes with a camp tent in tow.
“It’s such a beautiful place and a hidden gem for most international people,” she says. “My girls love it here and don’t ever want to leave, so this is home now.”
Contributing to the Park City community and the broader world is important to Marcela. She says it can be easy to ignore the outside world in a place as beautiful as Park City and start to take it for granted.
“My goal is to help people have more experiences, not just within Park City, but also outside of this community. To be aware of what’s happening out there in the world on a bigger scale,” she says. “And then come back and appreciate what we have. There’s so much more out there that people need to see.”