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Senior uses service trip opportunity to research mental health in India

Jordan with young Indian child

Before leaving for a three-week trip to India, Jordan Conley ’20 spent a whole semester preparing. In her International Service-Learning course, she studied the culture and read weekly news articles. It was the perfect lead-up for the York College of Pennsylvania senior, who jokes she’d never been out of the country unless you count the Caribbean and Aruba.

“Part of it was all expected, but it was also a very different culture,” she says. “A lot of things seemed almost opposite to what it would be for us in the U.S. It was a very humbling experience.”

Jordan, who is a Human Services major with Applied Youth Development and Psychology minors, spent her time in the country working with children. She helped out in an orphanage with around 200 children ranging from ages 3-19. The experience opened her eyes to how education varies in different countries.

Experience in the field

For example, the orphanage in India had a large child-to-staff ratio. For Jordan, that meant lending a hand and preoccupying children with playtime. She also helped students with their homework and reorganized items within the orphanage.

Jordan also spent time specific to her major, working on a research paper on the suicide rates in the country. She found that mental health was more stigmatized in India, and it wasn’t a conversation many people were willing to have. Her research focused on high suicide rates and the connection to cultural boundaries, religious roots, and poverty.

“I saw it firsthand, just the way some of the people live,” Jordan says. “A lot of people can’t afford things we would consider necessary.”

‘I can really relate to them’

Jordan also plays the attack position on the women’s lacrosse team, carries a 3.75 GPA, and has made the Dean’s List five times. She credits Head Coach, Jen Muston, with having high expectations for Jordan to be a good student, person, and athlete. However, loving what she’s studying also makes it easier for her to succeed.

“When I came into York, I was undecided,” Jordan, originally from Annapolis, Maryland, says. “I just had no idea where I wanted to go. Human Services was something that I felt really connected to school-wise. I felt like I could actually do something I loved and be good at it.”

Jordan says her minors in Psychology and Applied Youth Development fit well into her major and career aspirations. She hopes to work with children, tying in psychology as a school therapist or a trauma therapist.

“I’ve always found that I really enjoy working with kids, even just babysitting or things like that,” she says. “It sounds really weird, but I can really relate to them and how they look at life through a very simple lens.”

Forming connections

Attending York College also helped Jordan refine the concept of time management. She says she works hard to time things out and make sure she’s not overlapping activities. Academically, she loves that her professors have had such wide experiences, which has helped her form important connections.

While she looks toward graduation, Jordan hopes to maintain her GPA and also win the CAC Women’s Lacrosse Tournament Championship again with her team. “But definitely,” she adds, “I would probably want to travel to India again.”