By Samantha Adams, Assistant Life Editor
Christy Young, administrative assistant to the dean of the School of Theology and Missions and coordinator of special programs, received the Staff Member of the Year Award at the May 4 Awards Day chapel service for the breadth of knowledge and the concern for students she exhibits through her position.
Young had been a nominee for the award several times in past years without receiving it, so she said she did not walk into the chapel expecting to be this year’s recipient.
“It was a surprise because there are a lot of dedicated people who work here at Union,” Young said. “It’s truly an honor.”
She said she spends about 25 percent of her time working directly for Dr. Greg Thornbury, dean of the School of Theology and Missions and professor of philosophy. Her other responsibilities include helping students in the school to add and drop classes and managing admissions for Union’s Master of Business Administration program.
In all her roles, Thornbury said Young acts as an ombudsman for the School of Theology & Missions, competently answering “virtually any question from any direction that you bring to her.”
Young knows the academic catalogue and understands university bureaucracy more thoroughly than anyone else in the office, he said. She personifies Union’s four core values — Christ-centered, excellence-driven, people-focused and future-directed — in her individual work and her interaction with others.
“In addition to those very high functioning skill sets, she’s ‘Momma Bear,’” Thornbury said. “She’s looking out for the kids that are in our camp. I think that really is something that is very distinctive.”
Young said she usually drops her work when a student comes in to talk to her in the office. “Sometimes students just need a hug, to cry or vent or have a meltdown,” Young said. “If they were mine, I would want someone to take them in and love on them. I like that they feel like they can come up here and do that.”
Liana Saffel, senior biblical studies-languages major, said Young almost always makes herself available to listen to students. Young even gave Saffel her cellular phone number so that Saffel could reach her at anytime.
“She’s always willing to listen, even if she has 6,000 things on her desk to do,” Saffel said. “She’ll still be working on something but she always has all ears directed toward the student.”
Higher education has only been a part of Young’s career since she took the position in 2006. Her previous work experience included working as an administrative assistant to the jail administrator at the Madison County Sheriff’s Department in Jackson and as an administrative assistant to the chairman of global engineering for Procter & Gamble.
“When you work in those types of jobs you don’t have the opportunity to build (personal) relationships,” Young said. “(At Union) you get to develop relationships and watch students grow to be seniors. Sometimes it’s sad, though, because when students graduate it’s like 50 kids are leaving home.”
Young said she hopes she encourages students and that they understand what a privilege it is to earn an education from Union.
Two frames on the wall above her desk reflect education Young herself recently earned. In December 2011, she received her Master of Business Administration from Union’s McAfee School of Business Administration. Young also has earned a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership from Union.
Young is a wife and mother to four children.
When she won the Staff Member of the Year Award, Young first thought of her family, she said.
“The first thing I was doing was texting my husband,” Young said.
Her husband, Bill, has been working for Pacific Architects and Engineers Inc. as the United States deputy contingent commander in Haiti since November 2010. He also works as a journalist.
Young’s daughters, Jessica Thompson, Chelsea Young and Christina Young, attended the Awards Day chapel without her knowledge.
“When (other staff members) grabbed me to go out the door for the receiving line, that’s when I saw them,” Young said. “That made receiving the award even more special.”