In August, Nicholas Young plans to start work on a master’s degree in Social Work, on his way to fulfilling his goal of becoming a social worker. But the path for the young man who graduated just a few days ago magna cum laude from Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida wasn’t always so clear.
Young, who grew up near West Palm Beach, for a good while was simply known as “Baby Sam.” A cable construction worker found him on top of an ant bed near an orange grove in Florida. There was no note. There were no papers identifying the infant or his parents.
Baby Sam was first placed in foster care and later adopted by Carl and Dorothy Young.
“My social worker made sure that I was connected and placed in a good family. That made all the difference in the world,” Nicholas Young told BlackAmericaweb.com. “I got off to rough start in life, but other than that, my life has been quite typical.”
He made a decision early in life that he would attend FAMU. “I grew up going to homecoming and different campus events. I always saw positive, young African Americans there, working to make a difference. That’s what I wanted to do.”
The sound of Pomp and Circumstance at historically black colleges and universities throughout the country this graduation season bring hundreds, maybe even thousands of stories of triumph. Many are graduates like Young who overcame tough circumstances to pursue their dream of a college degree.
Young’s career choice comes as a direct result of the impact a social worker, Carolyn Lester, had on his life.
“I still stay in touch with her to this day,” said the 22-year-old Young. “If I can impact another kid’s life as she has impacted mine, I will have made a contribution.”
Baby Sam, who grew into baby Nick, then Nicholas, made an almost automatic connection with his family.
“I saw those eyes. I saw that face. We knew we wanted to have him in our family,” Dorothy Young told BlackAmericaweb.com. “When I saw him on the television, I became ecstatic; I knew that was my baby.”
“We had a daughter, and she wanted a playmate. We had not been successful in having more children,” Dorothy Young said. In August 1989, they welcomed Baby Sam and named him Nicholas.
When the Youngs felt they could tell Nicholas about his early childhood without it bothering him, they told him how he was found and how they had come to adopt him.
“We never even considered keeping it from him,” Dorothy Young said. “I kept an album with pictures and news articles.”
Her son has always had a solid support system – a pastor, teachers, his sister and parents, Dorothy Young said. “He has always had people he could talk it out with,” she said.
Still Nicholas knows nothing about his birth parents, but he’d like to meet them one day,” he said.
“I’m not interested in having a relationship with them. I just want to ask them some questions, like why is it that the only place you could find to leave me was on top of an ant hill?”
Young attended William T. Dwyer High School in West Palm Beach and graduated in 2007 before going on to FAMU.
Like many students, the transition to college was challenging, but he soon got used to it, Dorothy Young said.
“He had to get used to living in the dorm away from home,” she said.
He graduated with a 3.35 grade point average and was a member of several professional organizations and the Phi Alpha Honor Society.
When he talks to younger students today, Young said he has a few words of advice.
“I tell them there is no obstacle in life that you can’t overcome,” he said. “As a child it was instilled in me that I can do anything I wanted. I took that to heart.”