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Young gives salary for scholarships

April 09, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Education unlocked the doors to opportunities he would not have had otherwise, Washington County Board of Education member William Princeton Young said Thursday.

"It's the key out of poverty. It's also the key out of bad circumstances that people have no control over," Young said. "I try to explain this to kids all the time."

Washington County's first black school board member and a licensed clinical professional counselor, Young earned three academic degrees over seven years after he was injured in an accident.

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"It was April 16, 1977. I was hit by a car. I'll never forget it," he said. "I was told I'd never walk again. They even wanted to amputate my legs."

Now, 27 years later, Young said the ordeal motivated him to donate the after-tax balance of his $4,800 school board salary to fund eight $500 scholarships for minority students attending Washington County high schools.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich last year appointed Young to fill a school board seat vacated by Doris J. Nipps, who was elected to the Washington County Board of Commissioners. He ran for the post in the March 2 primary election, but did not receive enough votes to run in the general election.

Young said donating his school board salary to scholarships is a way of giving back to his community.

The eight scholarships will be awarded in memory of such people as former Washington County English teacher and writing coach H. Jane Martin as well as close friends and family members who stood by Young after the accident.

Young, a former Mack Trucks machine operator, said the accident meant he would have to find a new career.

"I couldn't stand for long hours at a machine anymore," Young said.

In 1978, Young enrolled at the University of Maryland University College in Adelphi, Md.

He now works as a child and adolescent therapist with the Mental Health Center Inc. of Western Maryland in Hagerstown.

"I have a limp and an artificial knee that I use to teach students," Young said.

Young said his rehabilitation took years.

"It wasn't easy. I scheduled several surgeries on my legs during school holidays, I spent a lot of Christmas breaks in the hospital," Young said.

He said the struggle paid off and he hopes students can learn from his experience.

Scholarship applications are available at Washington County schools.

Young's scholarship recipients, along with minority students chosen to receive this year's Martin Luther King Jr. scholarships, will be honored at a ceremony on June 5 at Memorial Recreation Center at 109 W. North Ave. in Hagerstown.

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