This Story appeared in the mAY 21 edition of the Times Herald-Record as the most recent installment of photojournalist John Desanto's weekly "845 LIFE" series

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PHOTO: Dr. Kristine Young sits on a bench on the Middletown campusMIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – At times, playing sports can take you far in life.

“Running cross-country was probably the most important thing I ever did in high school,” says Dr. Kristine Young, president of SUNY Orange. “Because the perseverance, the visualization and the goal-setting were important for me for the rest of my life.”

Young, now 44, grew up in Scranton, Pa., and graduated from North Pocono High School in 1992.

“I wasn’t a top runner, but I was a contributor and in the top five,” she says.

“But it challenged me to make short- and medium-term goals that led to long-term objectives.”

Young graduated from Allentown’s Muhlenberg College in 1996 and received a master’s degree in chemistry from University of North Carolina in 1998.

She began her teaching career as a chemistry teacher at Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois, shortly thereafter.

“I was at Parkland for only a week when I realized I always wanted to be at a community college,” she says.

“I also knew I wouldn’t be satisfied teaching for 40 years because I was always drawn to leadership. So I started taking doctoral courses at the University of Illinois.”

In 2007, she became the vice president of academic services at Parkland.

“By 2013, I thought I was ready to be a president of a community college, and I knew the current president at Parkland wasn’t going anywhere,” she says. “I also had a desire to come back East.”

So when the SUNY Orange position came open, she took a stealth visit to the campus.

“It was Thanksgiving Day 2014 and I was visiting my parents in Scranton with my wife, Cari. We decided to drive down to Middletown and then on to the Newburgh campus to check it out,” she remembers.

“When I saw Kaplan Hall, a brand-new building sitting in downtown Newburgh, I knew this was the college I wanted to work for.”

On June 8, 2015, she was sworn in as the SUNY Orange president.

So four quick questions:

Her favorite band? “Spoon; I was an indie DJ in college.”

Her favorite movie? “This is embarrassing. ‘Major League.’”

Her favorite meal? “Lobster.”

Her favorite sports team? “The Phillies!”

“I’ve been a Phillies fan my entire life,” she says. “In fact, my going-away present from my colleagues at Parkland was tickets to a Phillies game.”

So one more question – her favorite Phillie?

“Chase Utley,” she says, smiling.

Not Mike Schmidt?

“No, Chase Utley,” she says. “There was just something magical about him.”

“When I said cross-country helped me set goals, it was something I used throughout my life, both personally and professionally,” she says.

So what are her goals for SUNY Orange?

“The short-term goal is strengthening our financial, academic, student support and campus operations,” she says.

“The long-term goal is to enable any citizen of Orange County to have access to the college and be successful here.”

Now, three years later, is she comfortable in Orange County?

“I love it,” she says. “I love the college, I love the region. I am home.”

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940