The Louisiana National Guard’s Youth Challenge Program is teaming up with Northwest Louisiana Technical College to offer cadets continuing education in two fields.
YCP and NWLTC signed the agreement with the three campuses located close to the three YCP locations, River Parishes Community College, NWLTC and Central Community and Technical College.
Capt. Jason Montgomery, Camp Minden YCP director, says they have partnered with the school to offer interested cadets a chance to earn certification in patient care technician courses or machine technology courses.
“The technical college is going to allow us to bring our students into their campus, after they’ve been vetted and tested, making sure they’ve met certain criteria,” he said, “so they can go to the campus and earn their certifications in these two different areas.”
Mongtomery and NWLTC Interim Director Dianne Clark say this is good for the cadets and hopes to add more certification courses within the next year or so.
“This is just the beginning,” she said. “Right now in Louisiana, there are 100,000 people who are unemployed or underemployed and need to get their education. A lot of those need their high school diploma or the equivalent. What this means for us is we’ll be able to tap into that segment of the population who are at risk. They absolutely have at-risk high school students who have not done their high school equivalency, and Youth Challenge offers them the opportunity to earn their HiSET, but also enroll in some short-term certificate training programs.”
Clark says when Dr. Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Technical College System, heard what YCP offers its cadets, he readily got on board.
The idea, she said, is when they return home, they can enroll in one of the three campuses the agreement was signed with and continue their education.
“It’s that first step, and when they go back home, it’s with the certification that transfers into a program,” she said. “For example, with the patient care technician, they can go back and take the second part and they’ll be able to transfer into another health occupation.”
Montgomery says they do not have an agreement with the school for the cadets to take their HiSET, formerly known as the general equivalency diploma, because when the teens return home, it is to different areas of the state. If the cadet wishes to continue their education and still needs to take the test, they must inform the LANG in order to process the payment for the test.
YCP has locations at Camp Minden, in Carville and in Pineville. The program offers at-risk teens, ages 16-18, through a quasi-military program, a chance to get their education and turn their lives around. The program works through intense physical exercise, rigorous education courses that allow them to earn their HiSET, and opportunities to continue their education or join the military.