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Young Family To Be Honored as Hornet Heritage Family

For more than 90 years, descendants of Leona C. (Hamilton) Young have followed a path she opened to Emporia State University. Although the year is not available, Young received her teaching certificate in the late 1920s from Kansas Normal School, which, after three name changes, became Emporia State University.

So far, at least 16 of her direct descendants already have graduated or were former students and two are current students. Seven of the spouses also graduated from or attended ESU, according to family spokeswoman Annette Young Stull of New Strawn.

“For several of us, that’s where we met our spouses,” Stull said.

The Young family will be honored as the ESU Alumni Association’s 2023 Hornet Heritage Family during the Oct. 14 Hornet-Washburn football game.

The Youngs tend to favor ESU without much encouragement or nudging from relatives. Family members’ interests lean toward education, business and nursing, Stull said, so ESU—with its acknowledged expertise in those areas—is a natural choice. Leona (Hamilton) Young’s descendants also have received degrees in psychology, industrial technology, computer information systems and sociology/anthropology.

“We definitely talk about ESU. … I don’t know that I’d say it’s an expectation,” she said, referring to high percentage of family members who have chosen ESU. But, she does talk with nieces and nephews about the experiences and advantages gained at ESU and applied afterwards, as a result of her choosing the university for her higher education.

Although now retired, Stull held various leadership positions at an electric utility and has had first-hand experience with the quality of education at ESU from both student and employer perspectives. “I can definitely tell just through the work with people I’ve done, ESU graduates are great employees,” she said. “Obviously, they’re good, hard-working individuals, but some of that’s experience and their professors and the hands-on (learning) and the internships.” Those opportunities simply aren’t as common at large universities.

Young family members not only earned academic scholarships and awards, several also were listed on honor rolls and, after graduation, were recognized for achievements in their professions and for their contributions as volunteers in their communities. In addition to working in the business, education, healthcare, insurance and real-estate careers, some family members own their own businesses or have management roles with major national and regional companies.

Volunteer, civic and community involvement has been prevalent. Among a diverse assortment of interests Stull mentioned were service on school boards, daycare advisory committees, Kansas Hospital Association committees, the Coffey County Health System board of directors, United Way campaign coordinator, parent-teacher associations, Jaycees, high-school basketball and track teams coach, recreation-league coaches, Catholic Charities and more. Former student and Hornet baseball player Charlie Riesgo, husband of Terry (Young) Riesgo, volunteers and sponsors golf tournaments with his family in Tucson, to help finance the ESU baseball program.

Emporia State University sends out students not only prepared for careers, but with a sense of the value of community service. “Members of the Young family have used their education and experiences from Emporia State University to improve the communities in which they live and at the companies for whom they worked,” Stull said.

Stull doesn’t foresee an end to the Young family’s preference to gain its higher education from ESU. “The (Young) family happily continues their support of Emporia State University and future Young family Hornets,” Stull said. “… A lot of these are married and starting to have kids and hopefully they’ll go to Emporia State, too.”