By HANNAH BRATTON
The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control chose seven students, including senior Emily Young from the University of Mary Washington, to travel the state going to various colleges in order to talk about the dangers of drinking, as part of their College Tour.
Emily Young became involved with the College Tour through the Virginia Department of ABC’s Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Project Conference.
“YADAPP aims to stop the use of drugs and alcohol in high schools and communities around the state. I attended this conference in high school, and I have been on staff ever since then,” Young said. “I spent one year as a youth leader, two years as a junior staff, and this year I am interning for the Virginia Department of ABC as well as doing College Tour.”
As a peer advisor, Young’s job is to facilitate the student portion of the College Tour, along with her six other peer advisors. The Peer Advisory Council is held responsible for marketing each stop on the College Tour in order to get the maximum number of students to attend each stop throughout the state.
At each college, students have the opportunity to listen to speakers who share harsh truths about drugs and alcohol in order to educate students on how to drink responsibly.
“The PAC also facilitates activities like Alcohol Trivia throughout the day and gives students chances to compete against each other for prizes. However, our most important responsibility as this year’s PAC is to facilitate the Grant Plan for Success,” Young said.
According to Young, the GPS allows students who attend College Tour to work with the teams they came with and create a plan to encourage students to be safe and drink responsibly, discouraging any binge drinking and underage drinking.
Students then are given the option to submit their plan to the Virginia Department of ABC. Winners could win up to $500 in grants to implement their proposal.
For Young, promoting a sober lifestyle on campuses is a high priority.
“Drinking on campus, especially at parties, can often be unsafe and lead to larger problems. Alcohol poisoning, spiked drinks and other serious situations can be present when alcohol is involved on campus,” Young said. “I want to eliminate the possibility of some of these issues and create a safer environment for everyone.”
According to Young, harmful drinking behaviors can come in all shapes and sizes.
“The most detrimental effect of alcohol use is that people think it’s harmless because It’s just one drink. They start out with one, which leads to another, which leads to another,” Young said. “In addition to damaging their health, they make bad decisions because they don’t have control over the things they say and do…This opens the door for people to be in some very bad situations.”
Young tries to promote a sober lifestyle in her everyday life by making a conscious choice not to drink and surrounding herself with other people who make that same choice.
“It can often be hard to make the best choice when you are constantly surrounded by people who make the wrong one,” Young said. “By choosing to have fun without alcohol in the mix, I maintain a sober lifestyle, and I encourage others to do the same.”