Thirty years ago, Tiffany Young was faced with an ultimatum. After graduating in the top 10% of her high school class, Young had been given zero information about how to go to college. She heard about the University of Nevada, Reno from others and applied, and realized she had a simple choice available to her. Go to the University for school and make a successful life in Reno, or head back home. She made her choice and arrived in Reno one day before the beginning of the semester. Young started the beginning of a three-decade career in Reno with only two possessions: $190 and her acceptance letter.
“I’ve been an adjunct professor at the College of Education and Human Development for the last five years,” Young said “It’s my home. I’ve been in Reno for 30 years, and I came to Reno to go to the University. I was excited that there was a new doctoral program in this category and I’m looking forward to doing the work and the research.”
Young graduated with a bachelor’s degree and eventually found a path to becoming the head of the Equity and Diversity department at the Washoe County School District (WCSD). Working there, Young realized that she wanted to learn more about the barriers that prevent teachers from building tools around cultural competency in their classrooms. She earned a Master’s in Educational Leadership from the University and has recently left her role at WCSD. Young has been appointed to the STARBASE program, a partnership between the Department of Defense and Office of the Military (Nevada National Guard) and WCSD that focuses on providing students from Title One schools hands-on, direct access to STEM activities.
“I am now able to work with the Department of Defense, the Office of the Military and Washoe County School District in a different way to make sure we have students of color and students who are in our lower socioeconomic communities be successful in STEM,” Young said. “We will have high-end 3-D printing, opportunities around aviation, science and engineering processes for students free of charge who are in the fifth grade and in Title One schools. Outside of the school year, we will be able to bring other groups that are in clubs, home school or charter school.”
At the same time, Young runs her own consulting business focused on building tools for equity, diversity and cultural competency. When Young enrolled in a doctoral program at the University, she chose the Human Development and Family Science program and applies her extensive experience in the equity and diversity field to her research. Her newest research focuses on a new demographic, to expand her knowledge into a brand-new area of education.
“Staying in the college and being able to hone in the passion and the research beyond the work I’ve been doing made sense,” Young said. “We’re looking at early childhood practices for teachers and cultural competency, equity and diversity. My background is K-12 equity, diversity and cultural competency work. Now I’ll be able to combine an early childhood piece and connect that to my K-12 Ph.D. research and dissertation."