Toledo Native Finds Newfound Love for Hometown at UToledo

By Karlie Perry '19, '19

“I initially had no plans on attending The University of Toledo,” began David Young ’88. “I wanted to go away for college. However, my parents convinced me to attend UToledo for one year and then explore other places. I never left!”

“I am definitely an example of a student that fell in love with the midnight blue and gold. I became so involved with student life I couldn’t see myself anywhere else.”

Young was a heavily involved student leader at UToledo:

  • Holding several different executive board positions with The Black Student Union;
  • Serving as president of the college chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha (APA) Fraternity Inc. where he organized many programs and offered countless hours of community service;
  • Serving as chief of staff for Student Government, which gave him the privilege of being on the committee that ultimately brought the Student Recreation Center to campus;
  • And as student activist, heavily involved in student protests that resulted in the University divesting all funds from South Africa when it was still an Apartheid state.

“I have tremendous memories from my years as an undergraduate,” Young summarized.

Young helping unveil the ΑΦΑ monument at UToledo’s National Pan-Hellenic Council Plaza

An Impactful Rocket Career

Young’s involvement with UToledo did not stop after graduation – he has served as a staff member for 31 years. Throughout his career and involvement in UToledo’s Upward Bound, Toledo Excel and Student Affairs, he has directly impacted more than 1,200 students in their pursuit of college degrees and secured approximately $2.2 million dollars of grants and gifts for underrepresented students.

Accepting a check for Toledo Public School Foundation’s Write The Future campaign 

He has also led special projects for the Office of Multicultural Student Success, which include providing strategic direction to African American initiatives as well as providing leadership for Brothers on the Rise, a group of African-American and LatinX faculty and staff who mentor current students. Young is also the current director of the University’s Toledo Excel Program.

Toledo Excel is designed to prepare students, beginning in the 8th grade, for success in college by providing them with academic enrichment services and activities throughout their high school years. The program is also dedicated to developing students into conscientious and active members of the local community. If Toledo Excel students successfully complete the high school portion of the program, they will receive a tuition and general fee scholarship as well as a book stipend for college. In addition to the scholarship, the program continues to support its college students with academic and personal advising, internship opportunities and other resources.

Young with former Black Student Union president Nyreisha Tevis and Toledo Excel alumnus and former Presidential Ambassador, Davion Williams.

Young has won numerous awards and honors for his work on campus and in the community, including: the Central City Ministries Urban All-American Award; The University of Toledo’s Minority Alumni Award; the NW Ohio Black Media Association’s Impact Newsmaker Award for contributions to the community; the Edrene Benson Cole Community Service Award by the Art Tatum African American Resource Center for outstanding contributions for the betterment of the community; The University of Toledo’s Donald S. Parks Faculty/Staff Advisor of the Year; the Lancelot C.A. Thompson Service to Students Award; and in 2019 Young was inducted into the St. John’s Jesuit Hall of Fame.

Fellow UToledo alumnus Jeff Johnson (left) and actor, author and US Senate candidate Hill Harper (right)

Creating A Toledo Excel Family

In his current role, Young states that the most rewarding part of working with Toledo is the “impact I have been able to make on students. Small victories and great ones.”

“I see former Excel students coming back as college graduates, coming back as successful professionals, coming back as incredible spouses and loving parents, and knowing I played a small role in that,” said Young. “That is the reward. I have always thought relationships and sense of belonging are key to student success and so the relationships with students and colleagues are incredibly important to me.”

Young with Toledo Excel graduates

In fact, many Excel students refer to Young as “Dad”, “Goddad”, “Unc” and “Big Brother”. Young has had students move in with his family when times get difficult, or spend the night for a break from difficult home life. Countless students have enjoyed a meal in his home as well. “None of that is possible without a loving spouse like Brenda,” stated Young. “My son, Jelani, is also incredible in how he was always willing to share Daddy with others as he grew up. He is an only child, but will say he has many UToledo ‘big brothers and sisters’.”

Left: Young’s son Jelani Yong, granddaughter Amara Rose, daughter-in-law Chelsea, wife Brenda and Young

Visit Toledo Excel’s website, for more information about the program, application and more.

Feeling even more inspired? Rocket alumni can support the Toledo Excel program with a tax-deductible donation to the Toledo Excel Progress Fund.