SC Gov. Nikki Haley Encourages POST ChalleNGe Graduates to Set an Example
Nikasha N Dicks
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SC Gov. Nikki Haley Encourages POST ChalleNGe Graduates to Set an Example

(May 27, 2016, Aiken, SC) South Carolina Gov. Nikki R. Haley challenged the first graduates of the POST ChalleNGe program to be an example for others during a ceremony held Friday at Aiken Technical College.

The POST ChalleNGe program is a collaborative effort between the South Carolina Army National Guard, Aiken Technical College, Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute Camp Long facility, the Aiken County Public School District, and the Lower Savannah Council of Governments’ Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

It was created due to the award of a nearly $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to create a 20-week extension to the South Carolina Army National Guard’s Youth ChalleNGe Academy based at McCrady Training Center in Eastover, S.C.

During the graduation, 24 cadets were recognized for earning an applied science certificate from Aiken Technical College in one of the following high-demand fields: computer networking, patient care assisting, production technology, basic tower and wireless installation, and welding. Many also earned GED and WorkKeys credentials.

Gov. Haley complimented the graduates for being a part of the program and taking advantage of what it has to offer.

“You started in January and you got to this point. Now I know that you’ve had challenges in your life. Whatever those challenges are, those challenges don’t define you. What defines you is how you handle those challenges,” Gov. Haley told the graduates. “So getting through Youth ChalleNGe was one thing. You went a step further. You went to the post-graduate side of Youth ChalleNGe. You know what that shows? You have determination. You know you deserve better. You know you want better. And you know that you need to go in the right direction.”

The opportunity to be among the first to graduate from the POST ChalleNGe program meant a lot to Connor Burch who earned an applied science certificate in production technology.

“At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to come because I wanted to do my own thing but I told myself it was best for me to come here,” said the 18-year-old. “I did and I stuck it out. I couldn’t be any happier that I did.”

He will return to Aiken Technical College in August to work toward a degree in industrial maintenance technology.

Like Burch, most of the graduates have already determined their next steps--continuing their education, entering the military, or joining the workforce using skills they’ve gained through the program.

“As the first graduating class, you’ve set the bar. That’s a pretty high bar,” said Gov. Haley, encouraging the graduates to be examples for future participants. “When they see what you’ve accomplished, it will give them hope.”

The next cohort for the POST ChalleNGe program will begin classes in July.

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