Sarah Young: Everyone's ally
By Sam Nadolski
Navigating the hallways of a college building can be confusing at first, and sometimes it's hard to know who to ask for help. Those feelings often subside when a student comes across a Safe Zone sign on an office door. One door that is guaranteed to have that sign is that of Sarah Young.
Sarah Young, the graduate assistant for Safe Zone, has dedicated herself to improving the lives of students around her, and is responsible for coordinating and facilitating training sessions, making presentations to classes, planning outreach initiatives and serving on the Capstone Alliance Executive Committee.
Young came to UA after working in Mississippi as a LGBTQ youth organizer. The skills she developed there helped secure her current position. She is working on her Ph.D. in social work here at UA and hopes to graduate in May 2015.
In addition to her work at UA, Young also serves on the Equality Alabama board, a statewide civil rights organization working on behalf of Alabama's LGBT citizens. While on the board, she served in a variety of positions, including vice chair and liaison to the Alabama Safe Schools Coalition.
Young's commitment to her work has been recognized on a national level, earning invitations to the White House twice. The first time was in June 2013, when she was honored as a White House Emerging LGBT Leader. In September 2013, she was invited back to participate in a Roundtable Discussion. This event was the first time that a sitting U.S. president had requested to meet with leaders of the bisexual community.
Even while pursing these endeavors nationwide, Young spends a lot of time working to better UA's campus, and takes a great deal of pride in her role as the Safe Zone graduate assistant. Her effort and determination has contributed to the 900 allies who volunteer to participate in a 3-hour training course to learn how to meet LGBT student needs and handle harassment issues. If you see an elephant rainbow sticker or pin on campus, it means that person is a Safe Zone ally. "I feel like I have the best graduate job on campus," Young said.
Young believes she can have a great impact on students by providing them allies. If you see an elephant rainbow sticker or pin on campus, it means that person is a Safe Zone ally.
"UA should always prepare students to live and work in a diverse environment, Young said. "I feel that Safe Zone is one part of a larger goal to help students live in a diverse world, to broaden their horizons and learn to be sensitive to others' needs."
The Division of Student Affairs strives to ensure that each student's diverse needs are met and Sarah Young is key to that success. Her commitment to helping students has already made an impact in her short time on campus.
During the upcoming months, Young and the rest of Safe Zone plan to hold additional trainings and also try to implement Safe Zone 2.0, which would expand on the broad topics that are touched on in basic Safe Zone training.
"Sarah gives us a much broader network to draw upon for our students," said Dr. Meredith Bagley, co-chair of the Safe Zone committee.
To learn more about Safe Zone, visit http://safezone.ua.edu/.
This story is a part of Student Affairs Highlights, which spotlights students, staff, services and programs that are excelling within the Division of Student Affairs. View more stories at Student Affairs Highlights. Do you have a suggestion for a Student Affairs Highlights story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your idea.