Youth Challenge Academy at Milledgeville, Ga., graduates its first class

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Story by SGT Clinton J Glenn on 04/01/2017
"We are investing in the future of our country by providing people who can contribute to society, both in military service and the workforce," said Col. Wallace Steinbrecher, state director of the Georgia National Guard YCA program.

The 78 graduates of the Milledgeville YCA walked across the stage and received diplomas and congratulations from David Bill, interim campus director of the Milledgeville YCA; Maj. Gen. Joe Jarrard, the adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard; retired Maj. Gen. Peter Boylan, 20th president of Georgia Military College and Col. Steinbrecher.

The Milledgeville YCA campus is the newest of three academies in Georgia that administer a 22-week program that helps at-risk youths earn their high school diploma or GED. The first YCA was established at Fort Gordon in 1993 and was followed by the creation of the Fort Stewart YCA in 2000. The Milledgeville YCA program was created in 2016, making Georgia one of only three states with three academies.

Combined, the three YCA programs have the capacity to graduate 1,200 cadets per year. To date, the Georgia National Guard YCA program has graduated over 15,000 cadets.

"We have taught them to make good decisions," said Bill, the interim campus director for the Milledgeville YCA. "It may not always be the easiest decision to make, but it's always better to make the hard right decision, than the easy wrong decision."

In 2015, 55 percent of YCA graduates entered the workforce upon completion of the program. Another 40 percent pursued higher education while another two percent entered the military.
The YCA curriculum focuses on academics, discipline, civic responsibility and citizenship. The program provides a structured development environment that incorporates physical education and motivates cadets to achieve in all areas of life.

For graduating cadets like Alexia Greene, honor graduate of class 2017-001, the YCA program provides new opportunity. When asked what the program meant to her, Greene smiled.

"It means that I do have the determination and commitment to stay dedicated to something difficult and not just give up," said Greene, who sang the national anthem at the ceremony.

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