Mae Jemison senior breaks athletic and academic barriers

Kennedy Young is the only girl on the mat and one of the only students with a full ride

Mae Jemison senior breaks athletic and academic barriers

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Mae Jemison senior Kennedy Young has been the only girl on the Jemison wrestling team for the past two years now.

“I told them to not take it easy on me because if they take it easy, I won’t be as good in the long run. Just do what you do with anyone else. Girl or not," Kennedy said.

Kennedy says she’s been used to falling in the shadow of her high-achieving brother, Jailen Young.

He stars in the documentary “Wrestle,” which showcases J.O. Johnson wrestlers battling their personal lives while also competing state-wide.

“It was a little rough my first year, but my second year I feel like after I got my first pin and first tick, it like boosted my self confidence about it and I really like that,” Young explained.

She worked hard to prove herself on and off the mat, and it showed.

Kennedy and her siblings were raised in Huntsville by their grandmother and grandfather.

“With them not having parents, they knew that they wanted to do better and to have a better life,” Kennedy’s Grandfather Cleven Young said.

Young said he always expected great things from Kennedy, but never put too much pressure on her.

“She really worked hard, and she wanted to put herself in the position that she had the options she has,” Young said.

Kennedy had several offers from colleges around the southeast, but she was waiting to hear back from Berea College in Kentucky.

Although her brother Jailen is a sophomore at Berea, she still had her doubts about getting accepted.

“Maybe I’ll get in, maybe I won’t. I’m thinking a little bit on the maybe I won’t side,” Kennedy continued.

Wednesday afternoon a staff member from Berea College called Kennedy.

“She was like, ‘well Kennedy, it was a really hard decision and we had limited spots and we were running out of options, but we wanted to tell you congrats you got in’,” Kennedy explained.

Not only did the Jemison senior get accepted, but she also got a full academic scholarship.

To say everyone is proud of Kennedy would be an understatement.

“I’m just glad to see that she’s done everything that I thought she could do and could achieve, and you know it warms my heart greatly,” her grandfather said.

Kennedy still has a tough decision to make. We’ll let you know when she decides.

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