April 26, 2012TALLAHASSEE, Fla.
– Known to many in South Florida as “Baby Sam,” Nicholas E. Young was abandoned in an orange grove near Martin County following his birth covered in ant bites. Through the love and support of his family and community, Young, now 22, has reached what he defines as his “greatest accomplishment” to date — earning his college degree in social work.
Donning his Florida A&M University (FAMU) cap and gown, adorned with a white tassel, honors cords and regalia indicative of the College of Arts and Sciences, Young has defied the odds and will be joining more than 1,300 prospective graduates who are looking forward to receiving a college diploma during the spring commencement on Saturday, April 28. Each candidate will enter the Alfred Lawson Multipurpose Teaching Center and Gymnasium for one of three ceremonies that will serve as a launching pad for their careers.
“I am most looking forward to my family all coming together to celebrate,” Young said of his big day.
Young, who has a 3.35 grade point average, will earn his bachelor’s degree during the 9 a.m. ceremony, featuring keynote speaker Sen. Arthenia Joyner.
“It feels amazing to know that no matter what obstacles are placed in front of you, you can always reach your goals,” he said. “I attribute my accomplishments to everyone who has helped me get to this point and believed that I could make it.”
Though some scarring remains, physically and mentally, Young remains optimistic about his future. Following graduation, he plans to earn his master’s degree in social work.
“It was difficult to deal with the scarring initially, but I accepted it, and learned to live with the fact that this is who I am,” Young said.
Adopted by Carl and Dorothy Young in August 1989, Nicholas cites his mother as his biggest inspiration.
“I am very proud of Nick,” said Dorothy Young. “Graduation is something we’ve been waiting for. To see him getting to this point is exciting. He deserves everything he has worked for.”
His grandmother, Dorothy Lambert, said she is looking forward to seeing her grandson walk across the stage at commencement.
“We are here to back him,” Lambert said. “I try to be as supportive as possible. Nicholas has been a great asset to our family. We couldn’t have asked God to send us a sweeter person.
When I think of where he came from to where he is now, he makes me want to do more with myself. I’m so proud of him."
Nicholas Young, who said he is looking forward to one day being a “loving, understanding and compassionate” father, said he has “no feelings” for his biological mother, but would like answers from her.
He graduated from William T. Dwyer High School in Palm Beach in 2007. After attaining his master’s, Young plans to become a high school guidance counselor and assist youth in need, just as his social worker, Carolyn Lester, once did for him.
“I want to help guide the youth in what I believe is the most vulnerable time in your life — high school,” he said.
While at FAMU, Young, who added that the Marching “100’s” “Do What You Wanna” would best describe his college experience, was a member of Student Social Work Association, National Association of Social Workers and Phi Alpha Honor Society.
“I chose to attend FAMU for the university’s rich history,” he said. “I found it neat to be surrounded by African Americans who are defying the odds, and working toward their goals.”