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Legendary Educator Alice Holloway Young Receives State Senate’s Highest Honor

Patti Singer

Dr. Alice Holloway Young, left, received the Liberty Medal from state Senator Samra Brouk, right. Photo provided by Maria Fisher.

Dr. Alice Holloway Young took to heart a lesson from her mother and father.

“My parents instilled in me the value of an education and the dignity of hard work,” said Young, who for decades has taught others through words and deeds.

Young, who in 1969 earned a doctorate degree in education supervision and administration, received the Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the New York state Senate, from Sen. Samra Brouk on March 19. The award is for lifetime achievement and exceptional community acts.

The ceremony took place at Monroe Community College, which Young helped to establish half a century ago. She was a founding trustee and served as chair of trustees from 1978-1998. In 1987, the Alice H. Young Internship Program to support students from underrepresented groups.

The MCC Foundation established a charitable fund in her name.

“It is my absolute honor to present this Liberty Medal … to this incredible, fierce, and brilliant educator and leader,” Brouk said in presenting the award.

“Through her work with the Rochester City School District and Monroe Community College, Dr. Young played a life-changing role in the lives of thousands of children and adults in our community.”

Brouk said that she is among many who “stand on the shoulders of the women who have come before us. If not for the trailblazing and courageous acts of Dr. Young, I know for a fact, I wouldn’t be standing with you today as the first Black woman state Senator in upstate New York. Your work made my future possible. You’ve paved the way for future generations to take up the mantle and do even more than the generations that came before us.” 

Young, born in North Carolina in 1923, earned a master’s degree in 1952 and came to work as a teacher in the Rochester City School District. She was among the district’s first African American teachers and at the time, the only African American reading specialist. She became the first African American principal in the district, a position she held for three years. She later was principal at another school.

She supervised programs for the integration of the district, including the Urban-Suburban Program, and was director of a U.S. Department of Education program that distributed funding to districts with a high proportion of low-income students.

“Because of her extraordinary leadership and her commitment to ensuring access to education for all Rochesterians, the lives of more than half a million students at MCC have been transformed. She is a role model and inspiration to students and educators alike,” said interim MCC President Katherine P. Douglas.

During the award ceremony, Young shared two other lessons from her parents, who were farmers.

”They would also say, ‘Always be kind to people and most of all, say thank you.’ ”