Jeorcy Peña’s ‘23 story is one of strife, grit and defying impossible odds.
“I grew up on the rough side of town and I’ve always seen a lot of people that were hurt, I’ve seen hurt, been through hurt and I’ve seen all of that, and just kind of knowing that there is a loving God… the example of what it is to live this life by working hard, enduring, persevering and just fighting for what’s right. Wrestling to my full potential is something that I use in life to show the work ethic and character He has built in me.”
Peña, a member of the wrestling team at Muhlenberg College, is in his fourth year and on his way to completing a double major in media and communication and psychology. His journey with wrestling started in eighth grade when he saw his cousins hitting the mats. Peña committed many hours of his high school days to sharpening his craft, not only as a hobby but as an escape from dangerous living conditions.
As a media and communication major, Peña is passionate about finding solutions to the world’s wicked problems. Social media, especially how fast algorithms threaten young people with addiction and division. “The media has really confused us and I just feel like, yes, it can be used for good. But I feel like we have used it for more harm than good honestly.”
Peña, who made the decision to be off of all social media for the past two years, has seen first-hand what social media is doing to the youth of America. “A lot of people are just empty, no matter what they post, they are empty at the end of the day. It’s concerning because I have younger family members and just seeing how they are acting…” Peña says, at a loss for words to describe the youth’s perplexing situation. “But I trust God for that. They’ll come around; I know it!”
Each day Peña takes on a challenging lifestyle “Iowa Style” (a wrestling term that should be renamed after the Mules) with the belief he is put on this Earth to do good, and when he talks about God being with him, it is inspiring to people of all faiths and beliefs. Peña’s choice to double major in service of his lord and our world while overcoming a troubled past, is a testament to the opportunities that Muhlenberg athletics can offer, after years of self-sacrifice and commitment. Peña applied only to one college, the one he was destined for: Muhlenberg. “This was the only school that I was applying to.” It seems like a full-court shot and he made it.
“God made it more like a foul shot,” as Peña describes it. “My coach here at Muhlenberg was actually my high school coach. My sophomore year, he ended up leaving and coming up here to start coaching here, and two years later, he ended up recruiting me to come here.”
Peña is clearly not ready to waste the miracles of his Lord or the support of his coach and lifelong mentor. “I wasn’t even planning to go to college. I’m here through God and through wrestling. I just feel blessed and it’s awesome.”