At St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM), students spend the majority of their time doing something that fits into one of these four main categories: sleeping, eating, going to class and socializing. Ensuring that these happen effortlessly, the staff at SMCM works tirelessly to give their students the best experience possible. Two of these categories are run by the same person: Derek Young, head of Residence Life and the Office of Student Activities.
Young began his journey with SMCM years ago. Starting as an undergraduate who changed his major multiple times, Young eventually decided that neuroscience was for him. He “played with rats” in a lab for two years at John Hopkins University following his undergraduate studies. Quickly realizing he wanted a job with more human to human interaction, he attended Hopkins to get a master’s degree, but this time in counseling. Not quite sure what exactly he wanted to do, but knowing he wanted to work with people, he took this leap of faith. When Young decided to call Joanne Goldwater, Associate Dean for Retention and Student Success Student Affairs, as a reference, there was a job opening in the Residence Life Office at SMCM. The position was offered to Young and he’s been here ever since.
Following this, Young had a variety of jobs in and outside of the Residence Life office. He taught in the Psychology department for five years, handled food services, participated on the committee of strategic planning and served as a club advisor. Additionally, he led the international Residence Life students on study tours where he would show them to different colleges and universities within the United States. Directly before his newest position as Head of Residence Life and the Office of Student Activities, Young was the Associate Director of Residence Life for four years.
Operating between two different offices during the day, Young can be found checking in with the staff, handling department meetings and doing computer-based tasks. It may sound mundane to the average person, but for someone who loves helping people, it’s one of the most rewarding things. “We’re all here to support students outside of the classroom,” Young said.
“Derek cares a lot about the Res Life staff and everybody that he works with, it’s crazy how he’s able to do so much for so many people and still keep a cool head.” Dan Belson, resident assistant for the townhouses, told The Point News.
When taking a break from his work, you can almost always find Young somewhere in the campus center, striking up a conversation with a fellow SMCM employee or student because for Young, “students are the biggest source of energy for me.”
When he’s not on campus, Young loves to travel “all over.” He and his two closest friends share this passion and always try to go on trips together. His favorite spots of all time are Lake Como in Italy, and Valencia, Spain where there’s a rope swing on a tree that holds a special place in his heart.