194 graduate from Youth Challenge - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

194 graduate from Youth Challenge

Graduates make their way across the stage to get their diplomas during the Class XXXVI graduation of the Challenge Academy Saturday. Graduates make their way across the stage to get their diplomas during the Class XXXVI graduation of the Challenge Academy Saturday.
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

Nearly 200 former high school drop-outs from across Mississippi are about to begin new productive lives, thanks to the Mississippi National Guard's Youth Challenge Program at Camp Shelby. Saturday morning, 194 Youth Challenge cadets received diplomas at a graduation ceremony for Class XXXVI of the Challenge Academy at the Forrest County Multi-Purpose Center.

Youth Challenge is a 22-week, military-style program which gives former drop-outs a second chance at getting an education.

Maj. Gen. Augustus L. Collins, Mississippi's adjutant general, was on hand to present diplomas for the first time since he was appointed in January.  

"It means to the state as a whole an opportunity for us to recapture some of our youth and give them the opportunity to learn life-coping skills and also an opportunity to get their GED," Collins said.

"I appreciate the Mississippi Youth Challenge for helping me go through my life with changes and they helped me change my life," said Devin Brunet, a graduate from Ellisville.

"It changed me," said Keandre Bullock, another graduate from Tylertown. "The first thing, it taught me how to be a man. It gave me a second chance in life. Without that, I wouldn't have nothing, I wouldn't be nothing," Bullock said.

Since 1994, a total of 7,013 cadets have graduated from the Youth Challenge Program.

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