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Cougar Query: "I have a beautiful view of the mountains, I have lovely colleagues around me and students stop by to chat."

Name: Ellie Young

BYU employee since: 2001

My job at BYU is… teaching graduate courses in school psychology. School psychologists are similar to school counselors but different. School psychologists consult with teachers, school administrators and parents when a child is struggling in school. We also lead counseling groups or do individual counseling with youth in schools. School psychologists are good at collecting data through assessments, observations, interviews and working with teams to use that data to improve outcomes for children. School psychologists also work to implement school-wide strategies to ensure that all students learn, experience a supportive school environment, develop meaningful relationships with peers and adults and experience emotional well-being. 

Currently I’m working on… a variety of projects with colleagues that focus on using data in schools to make instructional decisions, especially decisions that focus on how to improve the social-emotional well-being of students. My research interests focus on school-wide social-emotional-behavioral screening in schools and then helping schools to use that data to develop school-wide prevention and early intervention strategies or small group or individual strategies to support students. 

I’ve hiked Y Mountain… 3-4 times.

My favorite spot on campus is… my office because I have a beautiful view of the mountains, I have lovely colleagues around me and students stop by to chat. 

I get most excited about my work when… I see my students make a positive difference in the life of a child. I teach two classes that require graduate students to develop academic and social-emotional interventions for a child or teen who is struggling. For the project, they have to collect data and then implement the intervention and then report outcome data. When I read students’ summaries of their projects and see that they have helped a child to improve their reading skills or attend school more regularly or use effective strategies to help a child’s anxiety, my heart does a happy dance.

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What makes teaching the greatest job in the world is… watching students learn and apply the skills that really do make schools better for kids and teachers. And after our graduates have been in the field for a few years and they tell me or I hear about the excellent work they are doing that makes a real difference for students, I am grateful to have been a small part of that story. Being a school psychologist is tough sometimes, and our graduates really do work hard and care deeply about the youth they serve. Seeing our graduates make a positive difference in the world is what this job is all about. 

On Saturday mornings you’ll find me… skiing in the winter with my husband. When it’s not ski season, I’m probably going for a long run down Hobble Creek Canyon, usually with a good friend and colleague. If I’m running by myself, I’m probably listening to hit music from the 70s and 80s.  

My most cherished memory at BYU was… when I met my husband at a freshman orientation dance at the Morris Center. We dated our freshman year, then both served missions, and married shortly after I returned from my mission. Our daughter was born about three months before I graduated with my graduate degree in school psychology and my husband, Frank Young, graduated with his bachelor’s degree in construction management.  

My go-to comfort food is… toast with butter – real butter. Or warm bread with butter – real butter. And maybe homemade raspberry jam. 

I’m most looking forward to… hiking in Wyoming this summer. My father lives in Star Valley, Wyoming. Last summer I bought a book that describes 30 hikes around Alpine, Wyoming. I hope to do as many of those hikes as I can with family this summer. 

One item on my bucket list is… to go to Buenos Aires and watch dancers do the Tango, then travel to Patagonia and do some hiking and backpacking. And if I can afford a trip to Antarctica, I would definitely go on that adventure. I would also like to travel the trans-Siberian railroad because that would be a very big adventure. 

The biggest challenge I’ve faced was… completing my doctoral studies with three children in Florida, then working to get continuing faculty status (tenure) at BYU while trying to harmonize the needs of family and the expectations of the university. Fortunately, I have a wonderful husband and adaptive, strong children. We seemed to survive it all and maybe even thrive in the process.

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