Lessons learned at KU help family thrive in Houston

Posted on Nov 28, 2018 in Alumni News and News

Bryan Young and Chelsea Young with their daughters Madeline and NoraWhen she arrived at KU from Fort Worth, Texas, Chelsea Demars Young immediately joined the Marching Jayhawks—a natural fit for a clarinetist on a music scholarship. After switching majors from music therapy to architectural studies, she left the marching band but stayed with Wind Ensemble, spent two years as an residential adviser in Corbin Hall and, as a junior and senior, performed as Baby Jay.

“Campus life was an opportunity to try new things,” says Chelsea, a’05, who designs pedestrian and bike lanes, among other alternative transportation solutions, for a small engineering firm in Houston. “The exposure to new people, new activities and organizations was insane. That could be overwhelming for some people, but there wasn’t anyone saying, ‘You’re going to fail.’ It was more like, ‘Try it. If you like it, keep doing it.’”

Shrinking a large campus down to relatable size by staying active outside of class was a strategy both Young and her husband, Bryan, b’06, carried with them when in 2008 they moved to Houston. Shortly after arriving in the country’s fourth most-populous city, the Youngs made the effort to attend a Houston Network watch party, where they knew no one.

That wasn’t the case for long.

“There is a really cool group of alumni here, and it helped Houston feel like home immediately,” says Bryan, who sells oil and gas equipment for Siemens. “Our best friends that we’ve made down here, a lot of them, are KU people we did not know while we were at school. It really has made this large community very easy to navigate because you have these people who you identify with immediately, and you can build on that.”

Faithful annual Alumni Association members since their post-graduation complimentary memberships expired, the Youngs in 2012 became Life Joint members, and in 2017 took another step in their active and ongoing participation in the life of their alma mater and Alumni Association and joined the Presidents Club.

Even while raising daughters Madeline, 5, and Nora, 2, and funding ongoing repairs to their southwest Houston home, flooded in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey, the Youngs say they are eager to find ways to do even more—and they encourage other 30-something couples to consider doing the same.

“When we come back to campus,” Bryan says, “we immediately feel connected, that we’re part of the University, more than just that, ‘Hey, we’re here on campus’ kind of thing. We can go back and be proud of our relationship with the Alumni Association and we can be proud of what we’ve been part of in Houston. That means something to us.

“I think it’s maybe hard to get some people excited about that, and I know that everybody has busy lives, but for us, the first step was simple: We care about the University, and we care about how it changed and shaped our lives.”

For more stories about Jayhawks like the Young family, and to learn more about the successes of the Alumni Association this year, read our annual report.

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