VU Student Kyra Young: Persevering and Blazing Her Trail

VU Student Kyra Young: Persevering and Blazing Her Trail

VU Student Kyra Young: Persevering and Blazing Her Trail

October 14, 2021

By University Relations Student Journalist Braydyn Lents

Popular motivational speaker Tony Robbins once said, "Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible." The quote takes on fresh meaning when you interact with Vincennes University Pre-Veterinary major Kyra Young.

She can be as visible as a sunflower and energetic when she is thinking. Young, who is from South Bend, Indiana, has been described in different nouns by different people.

You may look at her as a success story.

Young runs for the VU Cross Country and Track and Field teams. She has a great relationship with her friends on campus. She is part of the STEP Program that advocates for students with intellectual disabilities. She volunteers her time caring for animals at the Knox County Humane Society.

To those who knew Young before she stepped foot on the Vincennes campus in 2018, who would have ever imagined that being visible took several steps to accomplish? Taking on several steps is hidden in her championed mentality.

Young has high functioning autism. A condition in which an individual shows no intellectual disability but struggles in communication and emotional recognition. She did not know she had autism until she came to VU.

Her life began in a Russian orphanage. There she was malnourished and weighed under 16 pounds, according to her brother, Kade Young. She joined her new family in South Bend when she was three years old. Kade said staff members at the orphanage would remind him that “she will never be able to read or write her name.” 

Through all of the pain she has endured, she has trained herself to provide an extra push to become successful and become a positive role model for others.

Her positive outlook on life has shined a bright light on more individuals than just her family. She has touched others by showing VU faculty, including former VU Professor Angie Crabtree, that she can take her tumbles and try again.

Former VU Professor Angie Crabtree and Young

Former VU Professor Angie Crabtree and Young

The STEP Program is where Young has flourished her positive light onto other students. Kade said it has helped her explore mentorship opportunities while also growing up.

"College is hard for everyone, everyone has a challenge adjusting to what college is, and myself included,” Kade said. "STEP for Kyra [from what] I have seen, just from a distance as her brother, has helped her become acclimated to the college experience. It has helped her meet friends, have a community, and it has been super helpful for her to start making acquaintances."

The STEP Program provides a way to study and a way to learn life skills. It also helped her fix issues she had in a particular class, thanks to the tutoring services offered in the Shircliff Humanities Center. She has worked with her tutor on class projects, and she has worked with Crabtree with problem-solving. She received Ds in her math courses when she started. With the tutoring services, she has scored in the upper A grade. 

"When I was going through stuff, Angie helped me, and my tutor pushed me to help pass my classes," Young said.

Her success in academics and self-improvement have made way for her into her life in athletics and the classroom.

Young competing in a cross country meet

Young competing in a cross country meet

Young is an NJCAA All-American runner in cross country. At a meet this fall in Terre Haute, she was the fastest VU runner in the women’s division of the John McNichols Invitational, completing the 5K race in 21 minutes.

Academically, she is most proud of making the 2021 Spring Dean’s List.

She ponders her future and thinks about transferring to a different university to become a veterinarian when she completes her associate degree at VU. After college, she wants to get her certification to become a dog groomer. Later she hopes to work as a dog catcher with dreams of training rescued pets to become service animals. With Crabtree’s support, Young has a service cat named Mittens. She said he has been through a series of traumatic events, and the two have forged a close bond during her time at VU.

After looking at all of these steps she has climbed, it is grueling and long. However, Young has proven she can accomplish anything. She has blazed a path for many people to follow, including her friends, family, athletes, VU students, and their families.

In the words of many sports announcers, she is an underdog. A champion, growing up, learning how to drive, work, and live her best life. In the world we live in today, Young is a bright human being. She once was in last place but rose to the top thanks to the mentors and family members helping her every day.

Once she reaches the finish line, her job is not complete. 

In the words of her brother, "The simplicity of her mind is almost genius, and Kyra puts her guts into things. Being a good-hearted soul in a cruel world is refreshing. We are so proud of her and everything that she has done. I am looking forward to what lies in her future."