AWM senior overcomes obstacles to succeed

ADD, vision problems can’t stop Riley Young

WM School District The hurdles have always been there for Academies of West Memphis senior Riley Young. But each time she has found a way to clear them.

Young has had severe vision problems since she was 18 months old and she has Attention Deficit Disorder that has been evident since she was in kindergarten.

But as the final few months of the 2016-17 school year wind down she is on the verge of conquering both of those obstacles in a masterful way.

Young is in the top 5 percent of her graduating class and she attended Governor’s School and Girls State last summer.

With the guidance and encouragement from her parents, Tom and Melissa Young, Riley has overcome the tribulations and limitations that caused great concern early in her life.

Before the vision problems and ADD were diagnosed, Riley said she went through a period of confusion.

“When I was younger it was a lot harder to deal with because we didn’t know what was going on with me,” she said. “My parents were really concerned about me and they wanted to make sure that I could learn and do well in school.

“They took me to a doctor and that’s how we found out. With the ADD, the doctors changed my doses a few times. At one time I was taking three pills a day and it was really embarrassing having to go to the principal’s office after lunch because no one else was doing that. I felt really awkward.”

Riley’s vision problems were discovered at 18 months old. She has astigmatism and has worn glasses since she was 18 months old.

“I have a severe problem with depth perception,” she said. “The vision problem was a lot more annoying, but I’ve learned to deal with it.”

Riley had surgery in seventh- grade to try to correct the turning in her eyes.

“It didn’t really work,” she said.

She said she particularly had a problem with math, which she said caused her a lot of frustration.

“My way to deal with that was reading,” Riley stated.

“My parents really got me interested in reading and that was a way that I could tune things out and I think it eventually helped me with my math problems.

Riley credits her parents for all the help in turning it all around.

“They’ve always told me I could accomplish anything I wanted to,” she explained. “They’ve told me that since I was little. It’s been trial and error, but it’s given me a lot of confidence in myself. My parents just never let me give up.”

Only a part of overcoming her vision problem and ADD was the academics.

The other was developing a positive attitude and thriving socially.

“I’ve had her as an office worker now for two years,” said AWM senior guidance counselor LaTarsha Johnson. “She’s just a go-getter.

Anything I put in front of her she’s going to figure out how to get it done.

“She always has a smile on her face and she has the best disposition. She’s also very willing to help other students, especially our new students. Riley’s always showing them around and getting them acclimated. I’ve also noticed that she reaches out to them even after showing them around the first time. Very conscientious.”

Riley is going full steam ahead with her aspirations.

She said she will most likely enroll at Hendrix College next fall and major in psychology, in which she said she will go for her PHD.

“I’d like to do forensic work,” Riley said. “I think the human mind is very interesting.”

By Billy Woods