It is said that “necessity is the mother of invention,” but for Methodist College student Robert Young, the rejection of mediocrity could be the mother of re-invention. At 57 years old, this father and grandfather, is pursuing his education to become a nurse after careers in the military and police service, and collecting a myriad of life experiences. “I’m enthusiastic about and just as determined to accomplish my goal of becoming a nurse as I ever have been,” says Young. “I don’t want to live my remaining years in mediocrity or sloth.”
In 1982, and right out of high school, Young enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed for several peace time missions to Japan, the Philippines, Korea, Honduras, Mexico and other places across the globe. In August of 1990 he was deployed to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield which later escalated into the war against Iraq known as Desert Storm.
When he returned to the United States after the war, he left the Marine Corps and became a police officer in his home state of Mississippi. He served for 11 years in various roles from patrol, to narcotics detective, and finally as commander of the specialized Street Crimes Unit and SWAT Team Commander.
In 2004, Young joined the Army National Guard and was deployed to Iraq. He was recruited and joined the active duty Army and was deployed three more times to Iraq. He became a drill sergeant and finished his Army career after 12 years.
“After I began my retired life, I decided that I wanted to continue serving and wanted to do something that was meaningful and contributed to my country and community in a meaningful way,” says Young. “I decided that no other field would be more suitable for me as a third career than nursing.”
Young’s desire to become a nurse goes back to his service in Iraq. He states that during times of conflict, his platoon was forced to transport wounded soldiers to the hospital in the “Green Zone” of Baghdad as they rarely had opportunity to call for helicopter transport. They would rush to the hospital in their Humvees, having alerted staff to their situations.
“Every time, I grew to expect a dedicated reception upon arrival, and even now can remember the sense of relief when these nurses and other trauma team members took responsibility for our soldiers,” he added.
Life brought Young to central Illinois and as he started searching out where to go to college, his financial aid advisor at the Veterans Administration encouraged him to research a variety of nursing education programs. After visiting many of the nursing programs in the area, he chose Methodist College.
“I found that Methodist College provided the best instructor to student ratio, seemed to have the most personable faculty members, and the cleanest and least ‘cluttered’, and modern learning environment,” he says.
Young is inspired not only by his goal to become a nurse, but often by his fellow students, especially those who are single mothers, holding down a job while maintaining a full-time college schedule.
“I am also impressed by nurses that I encounter during clinicals and while working as a CNA,” he added. “I also have some very intelligent instructors whom I consistently find myself in awe of as I hear them lecture and mentor about nursing material with such incredible authority and confidence.”
After this semester, Young will have one more year of study with a plan to graduate in December 2021. While he still has a goal to work in an emergency department and become a flight nurse, he says his clinical experiences have given him pause and caused him to be open to other potential opportunities.
Methodist College is proud to have Robert Young and the many other students who are veterans. On this Veterans Day we say, with deep appreciation, “Thank you for your service."