Alumni Spotlight: Lorraine Young, Class VII
Lorraine Young knows something about overcoming adversity. On a cold day in December 2001, Lorraine was just another college student studying communication arts and political science who dreamed of one day attending law school. In one mere moment, however, everything changed.
On that day, she received a phone call: her mother had been hospitalized following an explosion at her workplace. Lorraine’s mother supervised other employees and heroically chose to stay in the building until all of her employees were safely evacuated and accounted for. The harmful chemicals she inhaled in those few moments left damage that would last a lifetime.
From that day on, Lorraine’s mother was unable to work. Recognizing the need to support her family, Lorraine – just 20 years old at the time – chose to graduate college early, move back home and become the head of the household. She sold ads for a local phonebook during the day and worked as a hotel desk clerk at night. This schedule enabled her to shuttle her siblings to and from school and to take her mother to medical appointments. “It never felt like a choice. Helping my family was the only thing to do. It sounds sappy, but I thought it was my responsibility.”
Lorraine recalls this challenging time in her life and notes that, “each day seemed to present its own crisis and each day I pledged to see myself past it.” Growing up in a military family, Lorraine learned early on the importance of serving both your community and your country. “I’ve learned one major lesson about public service from my family. In life, we only exist in two positions: a position in need of help and a place to help. I watched my mother serve our country, like so many unsung military families, from home. The support military men and women receive from their families is often the driving force and motivation empowering them to protect our country. When my mother left the military lifestyle, she continued to serve her country and personal community by helping anyone she could. I can’t think of an opportunity she has ever missed to help someone in need in some way, even when she had little to spare.”
Lorraine is exceedingly humble, warm and quick to laugh. The personal drive that motivates her, however, is never too far from the surface. When referred to as a “natural leader”, Lorraine counters, “I believe everyone has the capacity to lead. I think it’s not necessarily about having the innate trait, it’s about making the choice to act upon what needs to be done. It’s your individual character and your own sense of morale and obligation to your fellow man – that’s the difference.” When Lorraine learned of the Gubernatorial Fellows Program, she knew it would be the perfect extension of her public service ethos. “I knew I wanted to be a Fellow because I wanted to gain a realistic perspective of my own capability to move my local community forward.”
She never gave up her dream of going to law school and graduated from The Florida State University College of Law in May of 2012. In addition to her Gubernatorial Fellowship, she held leadership roles in the National Black Law Students’ Association and was a member of FSU’s Mock Trial Team.
As a Fellow in the General Counsel’s Office at the Department of Management Services, Lorraine’s duties included assisting the Office of Supplier Diversity reach out to minority business, helping the Division of State Group Insurance and Division of Retirement ensure public employees receive accurate, well-earned benefits, and helping the department create legally sound, cost-efficient procedures for state procurements and acquisitions in the future.
As a new law school graduate, Lorraine hopes to gain experience as an attorney in both the public and private sectors. She also hopes one day to use her experience and expertise to create a pro bono organization that assists socioeconomically disadvantaged community members with their legal needs. “If I maximize every opportunity to meet my social obligations to the community, I will have aspired to a life well spent.”