Roger Young of Van Buren has worked plenty of jobs in his more than four decades of work – from a career in the armed forces to counseling – but he has found the “enjoyment of his life” in his current role as American with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith.
Young has spent 25 years working with students with disabilities and estimates he has helped more than 4,000 students with disabilities – physical, mental and learning – who have come to UAFS looking to better their lives.
“What I do is evaluate documentation for students who have declared a disability and determine appropriate accommodations,” Young said. “I provide them opportunity to be successful in an academic field, which we hope will turn into an occupational opportunity.”
“The ADA levels the playing field for students with disabilities,” Young said. “Credit belongs to each of these students for the hard work and effort put forth to achieve success – I merely gave them the guidance to get them to where they want to be.
Faculty support is essential.”
Young’s work with disabled students came from a love of teaching as a military professor of military history during his term of service in the Army. While in the armed forces, he earned a bachelor’s degree and two masters degrees. When he pursued his master’s degree in counseling, he specialized in disabilities counseling.
He started at UAFS 32 years ago when it was Westark Community College, beginning as a student counselor before becoming director of counseling. In 1998, he moved into the role of ADA coordinator.
His work earned him a gubernatorial appointment to serve on the Arkansas Board of Examiners of Counseling, where he served two three-year terms which included a term of service as the vice chair of the board. In his time with the board, he helped write the criteria for disability counselors for the state of Arkansas.
While Young has seen plenty of successes in his time working with disabled students, seeing them graduate is the greatest reward he can imagine.
“When they walk across the stage at graduation, that’s when you recognize that they have come a long way,” he said. “They found through ADA an opportunity to fulfill dreams to make a better life for themselves”.