When Andrew Corley, ’13, interviewed for a position at the Sioux YMCA in South Dakota, he expected to see a large building with state-of-the-art fitness equipment and other amenities.
What he found was a small log cabin with kids running around.
“At first, I thought this would be the first and last time I’d ever visited South Dakota,” Mr. Corley, 27, recalled of his initial impressions.
That was in 2014. But, Mr. Corley also saw the opportunity to make a major difference in kids’ lives and accepted the job. Two years later, he became the Sioux YMCA’s CEO and was the youngest individual to hold that title in the international organization.
The Sioux YMCA serves the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation, which is approximately the size of Connecticut, as well as parts of nearby reservations.
Mr. Corley, who grew up in Milton and attended and worked at YMCA Camp Burgess in Sandwich, credits his experience at Bridgewater State University with preparing him to lead Sioux YMCA at such a young age. He ascended to the leadership role when some of his peers had been CEOs for decades.
“They’ve been CEOs longer than I’ve been alive,” he said. “That was pretty intimidating, but I feel BSU really helped me thrive and be prepared for that.”
He served as an indoor and outdoor track and field captain at Bridgewater State and was on theMassachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. The latter post allowed him to work with athletic directors and other leaders from around the conference.
Academically, Mr. Corley switched his major from history to exercise science after he fell in love with those courses. He studied topics such as physical fitness and healthy eating and put skills gained at Bridgewater State to work for the YMCA. For example, he gave traditional camp games new meaning by stressing the importance of fitness.
At Sioux YMCA, Mr. Corley has increased staffing as the organization has more fiercely pursued its mission of helping youth. It runs after-school programs, as well as day and resident camps. It even organizes mobile Ys, where staff bring program supplies and coolers with meals and snacks out into the community.
Sioux YMCA also has another connection to Bridgewater State. It is an alternative spring break destination where students learn about Native American culture and interact with kids the YMCA serves.
Mr. Corley, meanwhile, said he is thrilled to be leading such an important organization that makes children safer and happier.
“Where most people work for a paycheck, that’s not something I ever have to do,” he said. “I know that every day I show up to work, that’s making a difference.” (Story by Brian Benson, University News)