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Dr. Linda Young is a 2022 Woman of Impact

Dr. Linda Young has spent nearly her entire professional career in the Alabama Community College System.

As president of Wallace Community College-Dothan, Young is passionate about upholding a mission to “create opportunity” while serving students of all ages through the wide variety of educational programs community colleges provide.

After graduating from high school in Elba in rural Coffee County, Young found a love for her future career while attending Enterprise State Junior College. Her parents, a farmer and a seamstress, had a strong impact on their daughter receiving an education because they were not afforded the same opportunity.

After completing her two-year degree, Young transferred to Troy University, earning a bachelor’s degree in business education, followed by a master’s in foundations of education. She was accepted into the doctoral program at Auburn University in vocational and adult education with an emphasis on educational leadership. 

It was while at Enterprise State, though, that she knew she wanted to spend her career working with community colleges. That is exactly what she has done and, according to Young, she “would not want to be anywhere else.”

Young began her career as a K-12 teacher for a few years, before going to work at her alma mater, Enterprise State, then a junior college. She worked there for 13 years, running a co-op program and setting up a career development center. She was instrumental in starting a foundation, as well, which raised money for scholarships. 

“I had several different jobs while I was there, which gave me a good base of experience,” she said. 

Young took a leave of absence from Enterprise State and worked for three years at the Alabama Community College System office, which oversees the now-24 community colleges in the system. 

“I learned a lot there and it was a great experience,” she said. “I worked with the legislature and external agencies that impact community colleges.”

Young knew she didn’t want to stay in the system office, because she missed interacting with students, something she has always loved about her job.

She worked for a short time at Lurlene B. Wallace Community College in Andalusia as academic dean, before being appointed the first woman to serve as president at a technical college in the state – Sparks State Technical College in Eufaula in 1988. 

“I don’t dwell on it because I think more about my ability to do the job, whether I’m male or female, although I’m very proud to have been the first female appointed to a technical college,” she said. “Many interesting things happened during that time, it was kind of an anomaly.” 

Young mentored women who came behind her in the field, helping them achieve their goals and aspirations of becoming president, as well.

“I think it’s important that they have mentors who help them with professional development opportunities, networking, all the things that are important in aspiring to other jobs,” Young said. “It’s not out of the ordinary now for a female to be a president of a community college, as it was in the past.”

In 1999, Sparks State went through a merger with Wallace-Dothan. Young was appointed to her current post as president of the merged institution. Under her leadership, the school has gained national recognition for its instructional programs and initiatives.

It’s the amount of opportunity community colleges offer that Young loves most about this level of education, which serves the “cradle to the grave” age range of students, as she puts it. 

From adult education, where students may need high school equivalency classes, to those who already have degrees but want to retrain in another area, to career training to correctional education, the possibilities are endless.

“I sometimes compare us to emergency rooms at a hospital, because we have people who come to us with a variety of needs and levels of education,” she said. “We have to see what those needs are, and more or less diagnose how to help them. Then we can proceed with assisting them in achieving success.

“It’s exciting every day, that’s for sure.”

Throughout her career, Young has attained a multitude of accomplishments, such as developing special educational programs, particularly for young women, that have been featured in national publications and conferences, as well as in a congressional hearing. She chaired a legislative committee for the Alabama Coalition of Women and Girls in Education and was one of only five women in the state recognized by the American Society for Public Administration. 

In 2016, Young was inducted into the Dothan Area Chamber Business Hall of Fame. In 2017, she was one of 19 college presidents in the nation to receive the prestigious Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction by Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for community colleges. 

Young has served in leadership positions throughout the duration of her career. She is the vice chair on Leadership Alabama’s Board of Directors, and will assume the role of chair in 2023. She is a graduate of Leadership Alabama 9; the programs is in its 32nd year. She has been involved in some way ever since.

“I’m very proud to be involved in Leadership Alabama,” she said. “It’s the best professional development I’ve ever had. The networking opportunities are tremendous, as well as the learning opportunities about our state, the issues we face in the state and the solutions to those issues.

“It’s just a great organization, of which I am proud to be a part.”

Young also serves on the Board of Directors for the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce and the Flowers Hospital Board. She is a member of the Dothan Rotary Club, the Fort Rucker-Wiregrass Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army, the Ozark-Dale County Economic Development Corporation, the Wiregrass Forum and the Economic Development Association of Alabama.

Young is still going strong in her career, though it has already spanned decades. She continues to have the same heart for community colleges and a passion for the students she serves in her role as president every day, meeting them wherever they are on their educational path and helping them fulfill whatever it is they need to become more successful in their lives.

“That’s what makes me enjoy what I do,” she said. “I’ve been doing it for a pretty long time and to see the students achieve success is really rewarding.”

Yellowhammer News is proud to name Dr. Linda Young a 2022 Woman of Impact.

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