‘A remarkable person with a bright future’: How Isaiah Young made the most of his opportunities

The ACE-IT in College graduate gained confidence and refined his career goal through VCU classes and several jobs and internships.

Isaiah Young
Isaiah Young gained confidence and refined his career goal through VCU's ACE-IT in College program. (Courtesy photo)

When he joined VCU’s ACE-IT in College program two years ago, Isaiah Young wasn’t quite sure what kind of career he wanted to pursue. He had many interests, so he decided to take advantage of the opportunity that this inclusive college experience for students with intellectual disabilities provided through academic coursework and multiple employment experiences.

With the help of an ACE-IT job coach, Young landed campus jobs his first year, each lasting one semester, first with Raising Cane’s on West Grace Street, and then with VCU Rec Sports’ outdoor rental center. 

His second year, Young started working as a customer service analyst with VCU’s Office of Procurement Services. That was followed by a final employment experience: an internship in the audit department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, working on a records management project. In that role, he inspired his co-workers with his hard work and determination, and he adapted well to a remote work environment. Logan Davis, Young’s supervisor at the Fed, was impressed. 

“Every organization aspires to find someone who brings a positive attitude to work each day, is committed to doing the best possible job, and works well with others. We found that person in Isaiah,” said Davis, audit manager at the Fed. “Isaiah is a remarkable person with a bright future ahead of him. We are proud to continue our support of the ACE-IT program.”

Young’s academic coursework assisted him in helping to refine his career goals and to expand his knowledge, and it included Uncovering Richmond 108 and Speech 121: Effective Speech. He had talked about wanting to start his own business, so he took Business 201: Foundations of Business to learn more about finance. 

“He was committed to his studies in a very demanding course. The growth in his confidence was inspiring and fitting for such a talented young man,” said Stephanie Lau, an academic adviser with ACE-IT who worked with Young through the VCU Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, a center affiliated with the VCU School of Education. 

“Each experience brought him closer to his true passion and career goal,” said Jaclyn Camden, business liaison with ACE-IT.

Young expanded his skills to public policy advocacy in April when he attended the 2021 Disability Policy Seminar, a three-day virtual legislative conference that amplifies the concerns of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities before Congress. Joined by Christopher Parthemos, career training specialist with ACE-IT, Young attended several webinars on disability policy and made connections with other young advocates across the country. 

The event culminated in a series of virtual visits with congressional staffers in the offices of Virginia representatives Donald McEachin, Ben Cline and Morgan Griffith. Jack Brandt, a disability policy specialist with the Partnership for People with Disabilities, met with Young a few times outside of meetings to help him prepare. The meeting with McEachin’s staffer, in particular, extended well beyond the scheduled time with Young and others fielding many questions. 

Young participated in the School of Education’s drive-up graduation event on May 15. His career goal is to work in the financial sector in a records management capacity. “He’s extremely detail-oriented and thorough, so this is a really great fit for him,” said Parthemos.

Young is thankful for what he’s learned the past two years, and he shared his aspirations — personal and professional — in remarks to congressional staffers in April. 

“I am hopeful that I will find a job working at the Federal Reserve or at VCU. I am hoping to live independently in my own place,” Young said. “Because of ACE-IT, I have the skills I need to be independent in the real world. Other students with disabilities should be able to join programs like ACE-IT if they want to, so that they can learn and be more independent and confident in themselves.”

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