College Mourns Co-Founder of Security Studies Program

steave young

In Memoriam

Steve Young, one of the founders of the Security Studies program, left behind a legacy in his career and teaching.

Steve Young, one of the founders of the Security Studies program at Sam Houston State University, passed away on March 9 in Corpus Christi with his wife and family by his side.

The College of Criminal Justice will honor Young in conjunction with its Sword and Shield Induction Ceremony on April 27 at 5:30pm in the CJ Courtroom. The Sword and Shield is the honor society for those pursuing careers in homeland security, intelligence, emergency management, and protective services.

Young joined the College of Criminal Justice in 2005, where he helped launch the Security Studies program and served as associate director of the Institute for the Study of Violent Groups. A former CIA counterterrorism officer with tours in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, Young taught courses in terrorism, homeland security and intelligence analysis. Young worked at the College until 2015 as the program grew into its own department offering a master’s degree in Homeland Security Studies and two certificates programs in emergency management and critical infrastructure protection.

“We divided the program into private security and government,” said Jim Dozier, a professor in the Department of Security Studies, who started the program alongside Young. “Steve was the real deal. He really loved his students, and they, in turn, loved him.”

Young was at the forefront of creating a Security Studies program in the wake of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. He witnessed the danger firsthand and was adamant about training professionals to deal with future threats.
“He knew the dangers having worked it, breathed it and lived it so often,” said his wife, Sari Young. “He knew the importance of being acutely aware. In his own way, he had the mindset to stop it or to make it more difficult to commit acts of terrorism.”

Young even taught new faculty, like Nathan Jones, how to conduct surveillance exercises with students so that these real world exercises could continue at Sam Houston State University. “His guest lectures were legendary, and I will always be grateful to him for teaching me how to run the practical surveillance exercise which the students love,” said Jones. “I will continue the exercise annually in honor of Steve Young who did so much for our program.”

Young also would treat students to a movie and pizza at his home.

“He didn’t just want to educate his students,” said Sari Young. “He wanted to embed within them the importance of it and the reality of it. He admired intelligent people and when he saw it in his students, he promoted that and encouraged them to think and feel. To know them on a more personal basis was another way to help them.”

Fabia Mendez, an adjunct at the College of Criminal Justice, credits Dr. Young with playing a “pivotal role” in her college experience and in her career.

“Good teachers impart knowledge, but great teachers like Dr. Young inspire learning,” said Mendez. “His courses were ones I found myself excited to attend and the intellectual discussions had in them developed my true love of learning and teaching.

Wade Zedaker, an executive team leader of assets protection at Target, called Young “one of his most inspiring professors.”

“I became a much more curious, diligent, analytical, and in-depth individual, which has helped me incredibly in my career and life,” said Zedaker.
Steve Fleuriet, who works in global risk management for the Wood Group, echoed Young’s passion for his students.

“Dr. Young had a passion for teaching and truly enjoyed sharing his knowledge and experiences with students,” Fleuriet said. “I can directly attribute a number of skills I use daily in my career as being honed while studying under Dr. Young’s guidance.”

Many described his classes as challenging, forcing student to reach deeper and learn more.

“He was very kind and always made me feel that I was capable of much more than I thought,” said Monique McMichael of Travis County Community Justice Services. “Although your classes were tough, you pushed me to be better. For that I am grateful. Your ideas, spirit and success will live on through each life you touched as an educator.”
Another former student Stevee Franks described Young as “tough, but warm and kind.”

“Towards the end of graduate school, I presented him with a picture frame with little notes from my entire cohort expressing how much we appreciated him,” Franks said. “He was very happy with his gift –it was kind of goofy- so he laughed and gave me a hard hug. When he pulled away, he gave me a few hardy pats on the back as we said our goodbyes, and that’s how I always saw him… A man who genuinely cared about his students and we genuinely cared about him. He will be missed and he will be remembered. “

Michael Coates had Young as a professor and worked with him on federally-funded research projects.

“Having served our country in a variety of roles throughout his impressive career, Dr. Young had a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience,” said Coates, Cyber Security Project Manager STP Nuclear Operating Company . “What I remember most about Steve was his passion for our field. He cared deeply about the work and his students. I know many that benefitted greatly from his mentorship and have carried his passion forward into our own respective security fields. …Rest in peace and Semper Fi, my friend.”

Young also worked with on the ISVG, a collection of open source documents on extremist events across the globe. The database was a valuable resource for professionals in the field and even attracted the attention of the Department of State. “He was also instrumental to the development of the ISVG – he was the driving force behind the collection and analysis,” said Magdalena Denham, an assistant professor in the Department of Security Studies.

Young also published several articles in the discipline and contributed to a book, Critical Issues in Homeland Security by James Ramsay and Linda Kiltzy.

“Steve was a man of integrity and a joy to work with,” said Ramsay, coordinator of the Homeland Security Program at the University of New Hampshire. “His knowledge of the security studies enterprise was valuable and rich. I enjoyed working with him and know that his many contributions to our democracy will be valued for some time.”

Clayton William, a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, remembers Young’s parting word during graduation: “’Now go forth and conquer.’ This is a phrase I remember and reflect on often and will carry with me for the rest of my life because it came from a man for whom I had such great personal and professional respect and admiration.”

Young is survived by his wife Sari and children Kelly Wood, Emma Lee Clarke, Roslyn Corrigan, and Bryce Young.




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