by: MALLORY CARVER/Feature Editor
Retirement is often bittersweet.
For Jim Young, professor of biology, retirement is not only an opportunity to spend time with his two grandchildren, but it is a farewell to his fellow faculty, his beloved students, and the job he has devoted time and love to.
Young and his wife, Charlotte, met in the second grade, and were high school sweethearts. Upon graduating from high school, they attended Abilene Christian University together.
For 31 years, Young has worked at South Plains College teaching Anatomy and Physiology. He says he never expected to teach when he attended ACU. In 1976, their senior year, they were married.
Charlotte teaches in the Math and Engineering Department.
“My wife is incredibly smart,” says Young. “She was always being advanced a grade or rewarded in school for her intelligence.”
After graduating from ACU, Young attended University of Texas Dental School at the San Antonio Health Sciences Center. He did well, and he enjoyed the classes, but he says that when it came to hands-on dentistry, he didn’t enjoy his major anymore. He says he missed the anatomy classes, where he was able to study and work with more than just teeth.
Later, Young earned a Master of Science Degree in exercise physiology, and Charlotte got her Master of Science Degree in Computer Science from Texas A&M. Young went on to teach tennis for a time after that.
Young and his wife had both decided that they wanted to make a difference in the lives of others, no matter what they did. Through teaching, they were both given that opportunity.
“There was one thing my dad always told me,” says Young. “‘Try your best at whatever you do, and it will pay off in the end.”
Young says that he has always loved seeing former students working in hospitals as nurses or doctors. It gives him joy to know that he was able to help them achieve their goal.
When Young first began teaching at SPC, he was a young and inexperienced professor. He says he has so many people to thank for helping him not only feel comfortable at SPC, but also for helping him become a better teacher. He was a recipient of the Faculty Excellence Award at SPC in 1991.
“I am especially proud of the many past and present biology and science faculty members in our department,” says Young. “They have worked so hard to uphold high academic standards and improve our students’ lives.”
Among those professors are colleagues who remain among his group of closest friends today.
Young and Charlotte have two sons, Nathan, 31, and David, 28. David works at Texas Tech University as an outdoor activities coordinator. He has taken countless adventures and continues to do so. Nathan is the father of Young’s two grandchildren, and husband to former SPC student, Michelle.
Young says it was pretty funny about Michelle and Nathan, because Young met her first, at SPC’s “Thursday Night Live,” where she was performing. He says he loves his daughter-in-law, and is happy that Nathan met her.
“Charlotte and I are so incredibly proud of our sons,” says Young. “They both have done really well in life.”
Young is so excited to spend more time with his grandchildren upon retirement. He has two grandsons, ages 4 and 6. He’s a very fun grandpa—he always shows his grandsons magic tricks. He says he wants to retire with time to not only spend with family, but to work on projects around his house, and to travel.
Young says that he and Charlotte are also very involved with the SPC basketball teams, among other organizations at SPC.
Young remembers that SPC staff made him and Charlotte feel welcome when they first arrived. Young says he is always proud of SPC, and the people who work not only as professors, but people who work to maintain the cleanliness of the campus.
Young named countless professors he feels gratitude for. He says that he is always so proud of the work and dedication that so many professors at SPC put in to help their students achieve. He says that SPC is really special in that way, and that teachers and students really get to know each other here.
The Youngs are very involved in their church.
Despite changing his mind half-way through dentistry school, Young’s best friend is a dentist in Lubbock.
“I thank all the people who become medical professionals,” Young says. “I just am so grateful that I chose to teach.”
He says that he has so many good memories from SPC, from within the classroom, to fun trips with other professors. Once a year, several men on the faculty take a trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico, where they play a game called washers. He said that he’s gone year after year, and only won Washers once out of all the many times he went.
Ultimately, Young says he owes the most thanks to his wife, Charlotte.
“One reason that we wanted to be teachers was so that we could make a difference in students’ lives,” says Young, “but we never realized that having the opportunity to work at South Plains College would make such a difference in our own lives.”
Young says that following his father’s advice paid off.