“My Happy Place” is a weekly series in which local notables take us on a tour of a favorite spot in their home.
MAYS LANDING — Pedro J. Santana made sure to have items in his “happy place,” his formal living room in his traditional single-family home here, that reflect his Latino background.
“The Mayan calendar and the Pyramid of Chichen Itza in the formal living room represent the richness of the Hispanic heritage,” said Santana, who also added some artwork he picked up in Mexico.
El Castillo, “the castle,” is a pyramid structure in Chichen Itza that was once a Mayan city on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
Santana is the assistant vice president division administration and strategic initiatives at Stockton University and president of UNIDOS, which leads the effort to expand cultural and historical awareness of the contributions the Latino and Hispanic community has provided to humanity.
Santana’s formal living room is his “happy place” in his two-story, 3,700-square-foot home, because it receives direct sunlight during the day.
“I enjoy going in the space and sitting there reading, no television, just a book and peace and quiet,” said Santana, 45, whose parents were from the Dominican Republic. “The formal living room, I enjoy sitting there to be free of distractions and in comfort.”
Santana has decorated his formal living room in ways that make him feel at home with light wood furniture and a picture of New York City before 9/11 where he grew up.
“In the formal living room, I will host persons that come over to talk about life, but also I just enjoy being in a room with little to no distractions,” Santana said.
Santana has been working at Stockton and living in South Jersey since 2003. He purchased his furniture for his formal living room and his second “happy place,” his office, from Kensington Furniture in Northfield and Raymour & Flanigan in Egg Harbor Township.
During the past 17 years, Santana has purchased books and a new printer for his office, but for the most part, the room has remained the same.
“My office is where I go to do work and organize my thoughts for writing,” Santana said. “I do Stockton University work, prepare for community boards and organizations, work on my writing and read.”