By: Nick Santangelo

He’s knocked on a thousand doors. He’s lived in Australia. He’s taken on a New Jersey political power broker. He’s worked in human resources. He’s played in and managed a band. He’s founded his own company. He’s studied at Penn State University and Temple University– graduating in just four years of study despite a gap year in between and a change in majors. And on Monday he’ll speak with students as a guest of the College of Liberal Arts (CLA).

Psychology major Max Young, CLA ’12, is something of a Renaissance Man. But the way he tells it, many of Young’s stops were just a matter of him taking chances when circumstances presented themselves. It’s an attitude CLA works to foster in all its students, instilling the lessons that the status quo doesn’t have to be accepted. A unique perspective built from a liberal arts education can be all it takes to challenge conventional thinking and affect change for yourself and in the world around you.

Facing a bearish post-Great Recession job market upon graduation, Young refused to settle for underwhelming offers, finding compensation better than the norm in 2012 at a metals processing plant. At the same time, he was involved with the band, playing 30 to 40 shows a year along the East Coast.

I learned more my senior year in Temple than three years of Penn State

But when a friend decided to run for U.S. Congress, Young agreed to run his campaign. Outfunded and outmatched by the wealthy and powerful Donald Norcross, Young was forced to get creative. He ran a campaign with the lowest cost-per-vote in modern campaign history and still found time to bang on all those doors while also writing education and criminal justice reform policy ideas. Despite losing, the campaign still pulled in 7,000 more votes than the average winner of the past three terms.

With a promise to be part of another candidate’s campaign for governor down the road in his back pocket, Young decided to hit the road for six months and travel to California, Utah, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand.

“At a third of the way through my travels,” recalls Young, “I'm hemorrhaging two grand a month on expenses. I'm burning through my savings like no one's business, and I get a call.”

It was bad news. The campaign was dead before it started and so with it was Young’s promised job. After a brief panic, he decided to keep traveling anyway figuring he’d find another job eventually. He did at a drum school and live performance venue just north of Sydney, Australia.

“They do these big Japanese Taiko drums, African djembe drum kit, and they had this huge need on business development and marketing, both of which I'm experienced in,” says Young. “And so for a month I kind of dabble, I start teaching a kids’ class. I started helping them with the marketing.”

After spending more than a year working on those endeavors and learning about analytics and accounting and “all that jazz,” Young decided to come back home to America and marry his dual passions of psychology and music in a business he dubbed RhytmetriX. The business uses group drumming sessions as a form of exercise and meditation as well as to help people deal with mental issues like stress, social anxiety and depression. It’s also just good fun, and most of all Younger hopes to reach people with the art of rhythm.

Young credits CLA with helping him grow his interest in psychology. It was all possible because he convinced the dean at the time to let him jump into graduate-level Psychology and Neuroscience courses rather than the freshman-level gen-ed courses that transfer students normally take.

“I learned more my senior year in Temple than three years of Penn State easily because it was all my core major courses,” says Young. “I had really good professors, everything was relevant and it was there that inevitably has sparked ideas that I'm now able to flesh out in RhythmetriX than I never would have gotten at Penn State because I would have just been coasting. So my one year at Temple really shifted my entire psychological mindset and showed me how I can utilize psychology to do what I'm doing.”

Social science students can see Max Young speak on Wednesday, March 27 at 3 p.m. in the Walk Auditorium. He’ll be one of five professionals speaking about internship opportunities and career paths open to you.

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