Jordan Young poses on the Liberty High School football field

Penn State Lehigh Valley senior bonds with Liberty athletes during internship

Read about senior RHS student Jordan Young and the impact he is making in his internship. The story was recently featured in The Morning Call. (Photo: Addison George/The Morning Call)
By: Jacqueline Palochko

Liberty High School Athletic Director Fred Harris was dealing with a student athlete earlier this school year who seemed withdrawn and down.

He scheduled a meeting with the student, like he normally would do, but this time he asked his intern, Jordan Young, a senior at Penn State Lehigh Valley, to join him.

"At one point in that meeting, Jordan out of nowhere says to the student, ‘I understand you because I went through some of this stuff, ' " Harris said. "And that changed the meeting. The kid felt like he had someone he could relate to and no longer felt alone."

Young is doing a year-long internship at Liberty as part of his rehabilitation and human services major. He's doing everything from purchasing orders to ticket sales to touring all of Bethlehem's athletic sites.

It's a unique internship. Unlike classroom teachers who oversee student teachers from area colleges, Harris has never had an intern in the athletic department at Liberty. Penn State Lehigh Valley reached out to him, asking him to take Young, 22, on.

Young, who wants to be either a college basketball coach or athletic director, said this internship is perfect training for his future career.

But it's the relationships he's building with students and his role as mentor that Young likes the most. It's easy for him to relate to student athletes; Young plays on Penn State Lehigh Valley's basketball team, and was a standout basketball player when he attended Freedom, Bethlehem's other high school.

"I can better connect with students just because I know the mentality, " he said. "I know what it's like balancing academics and having to be in the gym. I lived through that."

Liberty senior Sydney Wilson has bonded with Young during her volleyball season. As she sorts out the hectic timeline of applying to colleges, Young has been a good source and has even encouraged her to apply to Penn State, she said.

"He's just easy to talk to," she said.

Young thinks it's his age that makes him easier for high school students to open up to him.

"There were times when I was in high school, and I felt more comfortable talking to younger assistant coaches rather than someone who was further away from what I was going through, " he said.

As part of his internship, Young isn't taking classes this semester, but he is at Liberty five days a week for most of the day and the internship will count toward credits. It's a busy schedule for Young, especially when Penn State's basketball season picks up.

But Young, a Bethlehem native, said he has no problems being busy. He said there have been some semesters where he's worked three jobs - at Applebee's, KidsPeace and the school gym - to support himself. Student loans and financial aid pay for his education, he said.

Leigh Cundari, coordinator of the rehabilitation and human services program at Penn State, said Young stands out in classes as a good student.

"He's a quiet leader, " Cundari said.

Cundari and Harris both said Young is driven and motivated. When he graduates in May, he'll be the first of his mother's three children to graduate from college.

He always knew he wanted to go to college, Young said. In high school, his guidance counselor helped him fill out college applications.

While he was looking at other schools, he ultimately chose Penn State Lehigh Valley for its small, intimate feel, he said.

If he had one piece of advice for high school students, it'd be that everything matters.

"I would tell high school students to take your studies seriously because getting into college isn't easy, " he said.

More Information

This story was provided courtesy of The Morning Call. For additional content, including more photos and video, visit The Morning Call website >>

For more information about this story, contact:

Jacqueline Palochko, The Morning Call

610-820-6613 | [email protected]