Dr. Young says goodbye to Tarleton
By: Sierra Wells
During her time at Tarleton State University, English Professor Dr. Mallory Young has had a fulfilling career, leaving her with lifelong memories. After teaching at Tarleton for 39 years, Young will retire at the end of this summer.
Young initially did not intend to become a teacher. After going to school to study languages and literature, she eventually got her PhD in Comparative Literature.
She decided to try out a job teaching at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and grew to like the position.
“It was hard at first, but I realized it really was what I wanted to do. And I never planned it. Didn’t expect it to be what I would do. And I’ve been doing it for 43 years. So obviously it turned out to be my life’s work, but I didn’t know it would,” Young said. “And I think that’s important for people to realize that it may not be what you expect. Just kind of see what happens. Now, we tend to be so goal oriented. And that wouldn’t have worked for me. So, I think it turned out the way it was supposed to, but I never would have known that.”
Young teaches English to all levels of students as well as women’s popular culture. She also previously taught French for 25 years.
Throughout her time at Tarleton, Young has also held other positions, including honors program director, assistant to the president and department head. However, her main focus has always been teaching.
One of Young’s favorite parts about teaching at Tarleton has been her ability to connect to students and introduce them to new ideas.
“At a lot of schools, particularly in other parts of the country, students are already kind of jaded. They’ve already been there, done that. They already know the ideas; they’ve been introduced to them in their families. They’ve already read the books. Nothing’s new,” Young said. “Whereas here, I found that for a lot of my students, it is new and that makes it so exciting, and their excitement and interest fuels mine. So, one of the reasons that I’m enthusiastic about teaching and have loved it so much is that over the years I’ve found students who really were inspired by not me, but what I was teaching.”
During her teaching career, Young has also learned a few lessons along with her students.
“I’ve learned to be open to other people’s ideas, including some that I thought I would never be receptive to. So yeah, of course you learn,” Young said. “And I think that’s true for everyone, not just for me as a teacher, you do learn to open yourself to different ideas. You have to; you can’t connect with people otherwise. You can’t be an effective teacher if you’re not.”
Besides teaching, Young has served as a co-editor on three books, including “Chick Lit: The New Woman’s Fiction,” “Chick Flicks: Contemporary Women at the Movies” and “Bad Girls and Transgressive Women in Popular Television, Fiction and Film.”
Young does not currently have a set path she wants to follow after her retirement.
“It’s kind of bittersweet. What I feel like right now, I think, what I’m really feeling is a connection to my students because I’m in the same situation you’re in, in one sense. I mean in another sense, it’s the exact opposite, but all of you are going to finish up at Tarleton, you know, and then go on to do something else,” Young said. “And most of you don’t know what you’re going to go on to do. So, I’m at that same point, though, towards the end of my life, instead of at the beginning of my life. Finishing up at Tarleton, finishing up this academic life and going on to something else, but I don’t know what.”
Looking back at her career, Young would not do anything differently; however, she does like the idea of visiting other countries to teach more.
“I will not say that it was without mistakes, but really what I would have want done differently is hard for me to say because I don’t know how it would have turned out, and I think it’s turned out ok. So, would I do it exactly the same way, again? I probably would,” Young said. “Lately, one of the things that I’ve gotten to do that I might have done more of is teach in other countries. I’m teaching in Italy. I’ve taught there six times now as part of our honors program study abroad in Italy. And I think I would have liked to learn more languages and have more active involvement overseas with overseas teaching, maybe even taking a year to teach overseas, but it’s not something I regret. I’m also glad that I did what I did.”
Young has been an integral part of Tarleton for several decades. Her departure, though bringing an end to an era, will present new adventures and opportunities that have yet to come.