Background Image Alternative Text: The Young family- Christopher, Vincent and Telisa
Background Image Alternative Text: The Young family- Christopher, Vincent and Telisa

Vincent Young

Vincent Young, Assistant Dean of Academic Advising, has realized his true calling in helping students find success. 

Dividends Magazine, 2021 Edition

By Emily Daniels

“In everything you do, always try to find a way to add value to others.”

Whether it’s with his work or the people with whom he comes in contact, Vincent Young does exactly that.

Young joined the Mississippi State University family as a Senior Academic Records Evaluator with the University’s Office of the Registrar before transferring to the College of Business in 2015 as an Academic Coordinator for marketing. This past summer, he was promoted to the position of Assistant Dean of Academic Advising, but he made a few twists and turns before landing on his true calling – helping students find success.

A native of Starkville, Young grew up the youngest in a house full of older sisters – five to be exact. Upon graduating from high school, he decided to try to make a name for himself away from home, accepting a football scholarship at Delta State University. The standout athlete had always been passionate about sports but soon lost interest when football began taking precedence over every other aspect of his life.

“It became a full-time job,” he says. “So, I headed back to Starkville to focus on my education.”

He enrolled at Mississippi State, initially interested in engineering, but he soon learned that wasn’t the direction for him. While considering alterative majors, Young decided to take courses at East Mississippi Community College to get some of the basic classes out of the way. His initial plan of completing prerequisite courses led him to attain three associate’s degrees in the process.

“I ended up with associate’s degrees in electronic and digital devices, instrumentation technology and industrial electricity,” he states. “After taking so many classes, I was asked if I would be interested in becoming an instructor, as a position had become available due to a former instructor’s career change.”

A short time after he began teaching, another opportunity landed at his feet. A recruiter contacted Young to see if he would be interested in a position at Weyerhaeuser Company (now International Paper). He took the offer and worked there for nearly 15 years, serving as a Maintenance and Control Room Operations Technician.

Young says his work ethic and love of learning were instilled in him from a very young age. Growing up he witnessed the daily sacrifices and hard work of his parents to make ends meet for their large family. They made sure their children knew the importance of working hard and understood the value of always educating oneself, because those skills last a lifetime.

Over the years at Weyerhaeuser, Young had accumulated a good deal of vacation time. Never one to waste an opportunity, he decided to make the most of his days by expanding his knowledge.

“While most people would use their time off vacationing at the beach or on hunting trips, I would use my time traveling to multiple states attending real estate seminars,” he says. “I would also go to seminars about the stock market, mutual fund and stock option investing, because learning more about those things interested me. I earned my real estate sales license and eventually my broker’s license, which gave me the opportunity to work with both RE/MAX and Coldwell Banker.”

In addition to real estate, Young became skilled in various areas of investment. Soon, he began assisting co-workers with their 401(k) plans and real estate portfolios.

“It got to a point where random individuals would frequently ask me to help with understanding and allocating their investments, amongst both their 401(k) accounts and personal investments,” he shares. “This increased my desire to return to school and complete my education.”

Upon receiving encouragement from his wife Telisa, he enrolled as an undergraduate student at Mississippi State, this time pursuing degrees in both finance and real estate finance. Young assumed he would earn his finance degrees then attend law school to become an attorney specializing in securities law, but his law school plans changed when he found out his wife was expecting their son Christopher.

He was able to continue his education without uprooting his growing family when he was accepted into Mississippi State’s Master of Public Policy and Administration Program and eventually provided a graduate assistantship with the College of Business Academic Advising Center.

“After all the career changes I’ve made, I found my true passion in the Academic Advising Center helping students achieve their ultimate goals, which includes graduating from college!” exclaims Young. “My entire life, I’ve been a person who believed in giving back to others. I have always had an altruistic perspective, as I would sacrifice my personal interests for the benefit of others. Advising provided the perfect platform because you meet students every day from various walks of life. Many of our students face adversities beyond the classroom. These obstacles can range from deciding on a major to more complex matters, such as affording housing, food and transportation or facing severe domestic issues. Most people don’t fully appreciate the amount of compassion, focus and emotional strength required to be a competent professional academic advisor. It is our responsibility to ensure our students feel supported and valued.”

While working full-time as Academic Advisor for the College of Business, Young was also able to pursue a doctoral degree in public administration.

“I knew that earning a doctoral degree would open doors and allow me to continue to do what I love to do, which is to encourage and motivate others to become the best versions of themselves,” he says.

“I’m a person who has always believed in challenging myself,” adds Young. “I always wanted to do more – I never want to be stalemated. If there is room for elevation, I want to put myself in a position to be elevated. More importantly, it’s pertinent that I am able to assist others with their personal elevation.”

Late last spring, the opportunity for elevation came to pass. Dr. Kevin Rogers, the Associate Dean of the College of Business, approached Young about filling a new position as Assistant Dean of Academic Advising and Undergraduate Studies for the College. Young was ecstatic about the offer but needed to discuss it with his wife. His apprehension was not about accepting the offer, but he had been approached with multiple professional opportunities and wanted to ensure he was making the wisest professional decision.

He shares, “When I called Telisa, I asked her if she could believe it, and she said, ‘Yes, I can. We’ve been together for 22 years, and ever since I’ve known you, people – including myself – have told you that you are a special person with unlimited potential. God will not allow you to continuously sow into and create value in the lives of others and not have windows of blessings open in your own life.’”

Once Young got the green light from his family, he quickly accepted and signed his offer letter, and he officially began his new role on June 1. Young explains that while he will continue to do a minimal amount of advising, his main duties will be to lead and manage the advising center and support undergraduate student success within the College of Business.

“In this role, I’ll be able to better assist Dr. Rogers and Dean [Sharon] Oswald. I’ll be learning more about accreditation, curriculum development, policy implementation, budgeting and managing an academic department,” he states. “But one of my main goals is to ensure our advisors continue to be courteous, engaged and informed while helping students navigate through their academic studies. I want to create an environment where our advisors know how much they are valued, and in turn, this will allow them to continuously add value to our students.

“Success means different things to different people. I know I am purposed to help others find their own versions of success – while continuing to add value along the way.”