ATU’s Madison Young: Believing in Others (And Herself)

Madison Young

Madison Young is, in many ways, a typical Arkansas Tech University student. She is an Arkansan, active in campus life and a resident assistant. She possesses a heart for helping others and a drive to succeed regardless of the circumstances.

For Young, life’s circumstances include a daily battle to overcome a disorder that few people even know about: essential tremor (ET).

“Most people are diagnosed closer to age 60, so I am an overachiever,” said Young, who learned that she has ET at age 14. “I beat them by about 50 years. I really didn’t know what to think when I was diagnosed. Now, I think about it, and it was a big turning point in my life.”

Young said that her hands and arms shake as symptoms of ET. Sometimes it shows up in her voice. Her handwriting is progressively getting worse, and she knows it will continue to do so for the rest of her life.

“I have control of my body, it’s just not as fluid as most people would be,” said Young. “Some people are bold enough to ask, while others just try to ignore it. It’s not much to anyone else, but in my day-to-day life, it makes things like putting on make-up more complicated.”

Those complications have instilled a heightened level of grit in this Searcy native.

“When I was diagnosed with ET, it was a setback,” said Young. “I am now different. I am disabled, but I don’t like to use that word. It’s just another part of me. Because of that, I have a whole different view that not everyone can have. If you are not a part of the disabled community, you don’t get to see how you are treated differently. It gives me this whole other drive to complete my goals. If I can overcome (ET), I can overcome everything else.”

Young’s path to ATU began when she heeded a request by her mother, Arkansas Tech alumna Lee Riddle Teed, and agreed — somewhat begrudgingly — to take a campus tour. At first, she didn’t think she wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her attitude about ATU quickly changed when she arrived in Russellville.

“I knew the minute I got on campus that this was my place,” said Young. “When we went on the tour, I was sold. It was where I fit. I like the outdoors and to be in nature. We have Mount Nebo. We have Lake Dardanelle. I literally have a paddle board in my room right now. The nature got me, and also everything that Tech stands for. All the small things got me, and I knew this was my home.”

The sense of togetherness and the welcoming nature of campus are Young’s favorite aspects of ATU.

“I live in Baswell Hall, and if I walk from there to the library, I’m going to see at least five people I know,” said Young, now a junior at ATU. “I feel like at a larger school I wouldn’t get that. We have this positive community where everyone knows everyone and everyone is trying to better themselves.”

Young has a career goal of becoming a pediatric physical therapist. She looks forward to a day when she can use some of her free time to travel to Africa and utilize her skills and compassion for the benefit of children who would not otherwise have access to physical therapy.

“I have to understand that school comes first for me,” said Young. “I have to get into PT school, so that is always my first priority. I might be slightly competitive. I get that from my dad and my aunt…my entire dad’s side of the family. It feels good to win, but if you lose you can learn how to do better. We all take losses every now and then.”

Rehabilitation science has proven to be the perfect major to help Young prepare for her future.

“With rehab science, you get to understand more of the people aspect of it,” said Young. “You learn how to counsel and read people. You learn how to connect with people in a different way. As a result, you end up treating the whole person, not just their symptoms. I don’t want to see just the limitations. I want to see how I can help them completely.”

Young’s personal experiences have helped shape that ethic. She has shared her experiences by writing essays the International Essential Tremor Foundation has published to raise awareness of the disorder.

“We don’t have a cure, and there isn’t that much research about it,” said Young. “People are not educated about it. As an advocate, I feel like people should be informed. I’m out here doing things and hopefully making a difference. I want to be a voice for others.”

Persistence and compassion have brought Young this far, and she will rely upon those traits to get her to graduation day at Arkansas Tech and beyond.

“At the end of the day, I want to be someone who believes in others,” said Young. “College is hard, but if I can be a positive role model and someone who believes in my peers, then that is the majority of what my residents or my sorority sisters need from me. Anyone I come into contact with, if I have a solid connection with you, I will claim you, you are now one of my people and I will take care of you. You need a community that cares about you and wants you to be the best you can be. That’s what I try to do.”