Success Stories

What I Want My Fellow Cadets to Know Past, Present, and Future

By Cadets Corner, News, Success Stories

My name is Jordhan Irvine. I was in Cycle 30 of the South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy. Before attending YCA, I was never really a troubled teen, I’d just gotten side tracked. My senior year in high school all my slacking and laziness caught up with me. In January of 2012 I found out I wasn’t going to be able to walk across the stage at graduation the end of the school year. I ended up being about 4.5 credits short of graduating after the classes I was taking and aside from taking an online class I still wouldn’t be caught up. The only other option I had was to go back to high school for a full year. I tried online school but it didn’t work out well. My mom found out about YCA on a radio infomercial, called and we had an interview.

I enjoyed myself at YCA and took everything from it that I could. It was truly hard being the oldest female in my cycle, but that’s what pushed me harder. Since I graduated from YCA on 12 June 2013, I have been doing very well for myself. Granted I did not get my GED while I was there, I studied and took it when I left then made my way to an Air National Guard Recruiter. Not even Six months after graduating from Youth Challenge I managed to enlist in the Air National Guard.

Currently today, I am still local in Columbia stationed at McEntire Joint National Guard Base. I still visit YCA often because I want to make sure that the cadets know that this program is extremely beneficial and if you’re here you might as well make the best out of the situation.

Youth Challenge truly prepared me for the real world without giving me too much to where I couldn’t learn on my own. They made you remember your cadet creed, which also teaches you how to live with values and standards. They somewhat break you down to build you back up and they also give you the tools all around to be successful in todays society and not just another statistic. They make sure that you understand what was wrong and how to fix it. One of the biggest things was respect at YCA. Not just respect for yourself but everyone. It makes you think about what respect really means and how it will help you later on in life.

What I want my fellow cadets to know past, present, and future; this program has a lot to offer. If you take from it what is given then you will see that 22.5 weeks isn’t that bad. You will gain so much from this program you will always remember the experiences, lessons, the relationships that you build with some fantastic people. Thank you Youth Challenge! I will never forget what you’ve done for me.

Cadet Irvine : Cycle 30


Published By: Marissa Vannall

Graduates of South Carolina Youth Challenge Express Their Gratitude

By Success Stories

Cadet Fenton, D ; Cycle 28

It’s been 3 years since my last day there! It’s been a long road but by far the best thing I have ever done as to change my life and come here! I always think about all the good times I had. I think about how far I have came in life. If it was not for this program and all the help and support I wouldn’t be where I am today! Just wanted to say thanks once again for everything! – Cadet Fenton, D; Cycle 28

View More Stories like this at: South Carolina Youth Challenge Facebook



Cadet Goggins, M; Cycle 33

I’m from cycle 33 and I’m doing well , this program helped me in many different ways, I ended up getting my license here, which helped me get a car of my own faster than I expected. I also have a decent job and my certifications in 3D Printing and Fork Lifting helped me get a call back a day after I applied for a job. I wish nothing but the best for all the cadets that make it through the program. I appreciate everything South Carolina Youth Challenge has done for me. I visit often to stay motivated and encouraged. – Cadet Goggins, M; Cycle 33

View More Stories like this at: South Carolina Youth Challenge Facebook

Published By: Marissa Vannall

Cycle 35 Graduation Day

By Challenge Updates, Events, News, Success Stories

Cycle 35 Cadets graduated Decemeber 9,2015.

Cycle 35 Graduates, you made it. You had doubts, you fought to stay true to your plans of graduating. It was not easy, at times some of you wanted to give up, but you didn’t. All of you took advantage of all the opportunities available to you, even if you did not think you deserved it. Guess what? You all deserved it, you all deserved the second chance at success. This is only the beginning, if you can make it through this, YOU CAN make it through anything, you have the skills, the discipline, and you all know what right looks like. South Carolina Youth Challenge is here for you, once a cadet, always a cadet!

To view more photos please click here: Cycle 35 Graduation Awards and Ceremony

To view the Graduation Ceremony Video please click here: Cycle 35 Graduation Video

By: Marissa Vannall



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Rahynes Clears The Path to Success

By Success Stories

IMG_7307-16 Leron M. Rahynes is a Cycle 8 (2002) graduate of the South Carolina  Youth ChalleNGe Academy. During his youth he spent a lot of his time in  the principal’s office and conferencing with teachers and his parents about  his behavior in the classroom.

Although Leron was very bright and could easily excel in the classroom he  constantly insisted on being the class clown as well as having the last word  in order to prove he was smarter than the teacher thought. During his high  school experience Leron continued his negative behaviors inside and  outside of the classroom. He became must less interested in school and  started to be placed in lower-level classes as his grades went on the decline.  During this time he began use drugs and sell them at school regularly. His  home life also changed as a result of his choices. He was at odds with his parents and was becoming disrespectful and choosing not to honor their wishes. It was at this time that he was warned that if he was suspended from school one more time that he would be sent to military school.

Soon enough that time came and Leron was sent to West Columbia to the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy at the Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School campus. Even though he hated almost every minute of it, it was there that Leron would see the path his life could have taken had he continued making the same bad choices. While in the care of SCYCA Leron was introduced to Community Service, camaraderie, and even took advantage of the opportunity to receive his GED. It was here that he was also introduced to the illustrious brotherhood of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated from Cadre 1SG. Solomon.

Barack With Xi PhiSince graduating from the Youth ChalleNGe Academy Leron has been able to rise above what others may have thought of him because bad choices he made in the past. Leron attended Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. During his time as an undergraduate student Leron worked for 2 Fortune 500 companies as an intern, met President Barack Obama, joined the Xi Phi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated and met his lovely wife of 7 years of who has blessed him with two beautiful boys. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 2008 in the field of Psychology.

Currently Leron is a teacher and the the Owner of his own Educational Consulting business What the Tech!?! Consulting LLC. He is also working on his Master of Education degree with the concentration of Administration and Leadership with a Principal certification.

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Leron, recently spoke to Cycle 33 Cadets about the program and the success that will come to them once they stick to the program and graduate. They must continue on their path of change in order to become successful.

Published By: Marissa Vannall

Cadets From Cycle 28 Return to SCYCA

By Challenge Updates, News, Success Stories
From left to right: Joy Toliver, MSG Morris, Seaman Ansuh, CSM Parker, Petty Officer Daniels, 1SG Solomon, MSG Stewart

From left to right: Joy Toliver, MSG Morris, Seaman Ansuh, CSM Parker, Petty Officer Daniels, 1SG Solomon, MSG Stewart

By Marissa Vannall – Media Specialist/PAO for SCYCA

Seaman Israel Ansuh, 20, and Petty Officer Gerald Daniels, 19, are long time friends from Northeast Columbia, S.C., who enrolled in SCYCA for Cycle 28. At the time neither knew the other had enrolled before the start of cycle 28, each were surprised to see each other. Petty Officer Daniels was in 3rd Platoon, then known as the “Spartans,” and Seaman Ansuh was in 2nd Platoon, Deuce House.  Petty Officer Daniels said, “I was getting into a lot of trouble with school and law enforcement. I was doing things I didn’t need to be doing, involved with drugs and the streets.” He continued speaking about how the program gave him discipline, helped him focus, and kept him out of the streets. Seaman Ansuh agreed with Petty Officer Daniels and added, “I was trying to do something better with my life and this program gave me work ethic.” They continue to remain friends after the program and decided to join the Navy together.

Petty Officer Daniels is an Operation Specialist in the Navy and is stationed in Hawaii. He has traveled to several areas of the world to include Japan and Korea in a year’s time. Seaman Ansuh is a Logistics Specialist in the Navy reserves, stationed in Columbia.

Petty Officer Gerald Daniels had this to say to cycle 33, “Don’t quit, don’t ever quit. Take the G.E.D. and ASVAB seriously. Paying attention to detail is important and so is the military training. You can do it, I did it.” He continued to explain what he was like before he attended the program. He also spoke about the friends who continued down the wrong path, those who went to jail and of those killed because of the bad choices they continued to make. “I was a hustler before I came here; I changed my hustle from a bad hustle to a good hustle. I make great money and I now help my mom,” stated Petty Officer Daniels.

He recalled 1SG Solomon telling him that it starts with a small seed and depending on how you prepared the ground for that seed determines what grows from it. “You don’t want bad fruit to grow from that seed, you need to do what you need to in-order to get good fruit from that seed.” explained Petty Officer Daniels to the young men and women of cycle 33.

Seaman Ansuh continued to explain to the candidates of cycle 33, that they could do this, “It may seem hard, but it gets easier. It’s based off of how you listen and pay attention. The time will fly by if you do the right thing. This place changed my life and how I do things. It will do the same for you.”

Cadets work to improve Palmetto Trail

By Events, News, Success Stories

The South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy has been given the opportunity to help restore the South Carolina Palmetto Trail. This trail, when finished will be a 425 mile recreational trail that goes through the state of South Carolina. The trail will begin in Oconee State Park upstate and end north of Charleston. The trail will have several connecting passages that will showcase the unique history and culture of South Carolina. The trail runs through Fort Jackson and the SCYCA cadets have been working hard to clear areas and make the passages visible. 

“Working on the Palmetto Trail was really fun. The best part about cleaning up the trail is having a sense of accomplishment after completing the project. Knowing that I am apart of helping the community makes me feel good. My group and I walked about 5 miles during our second volunteer trip on the trail. I did not think I could actually do it, but I proved myself wrong. The group faced a couple of big obstacles on the trail. There were a bunch of branches blocking the trail and we had to work together to move them out the way. It took us about 15 minutes to complete that task. Moving trees were another big obstacle. The trees seem to weight over 200 pounds! My group did not stop we worked together as a team.”

– Cade Thompson 3rd Platoon

My Story - Cadet Miller

Turning Away from Gang Life

By Success Stories

My name is Cadet Miller and I’m from West Columbia, South Carolina. I have been in and out of DSS my whole life, running the streets, making bad choices, robbing and stealing. My life has always been rough and my father was never there for me. My mother was having a hard time taking care of me and my siblings by herself. I was impatient and I did not want to listen to my parent or anyone.  I felt like I needed to help my mother manager things around the house so I joined a gang to help her financially. That seem to only make things worse.

By the time I turned eighteen I realized, I had to do something different with my life. So I decided to take the Challenge and attend South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy. The academy has helped me change my life by teaching me about self-discipline, integrity and life coping skills. I now have plans and goals for my life and know what I need to do to achieve them. At South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy I enjoy doing military training I never thought I could do before. I never thought about the military before or the opportunities that I could gain by joining. This program is giving me the education I need to grow. I also participate in sports which I love and am working out every day.

Dream. Believe. Achieve.

– Cadet Miller

Dream Believe Achieve

By Success Stories, Uncategorized


Tyler Clas a cadet from Cycle Eleven  dreamed, believed and is achieving his goals. He dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and had no plans for his future.  After visiting the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy (SCYCA)  he decide to enroll.  He completed the program with his GED and graduated with honors.  He enlisted  into the army where he served 5 years . He deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.  After completing service with the military, he attended Midlands Technical College.  After completing a year and a half at the Technical college, he transferred to the University of South Carolina (USC).   He is currently a junior majoring in mechanical engineering. When asked what advice would he  give to SCYCA cadets,  Mr. Clas said, ” I did not think I could do anything with a GED but I was able to do a lot. I currently have one more year left before I graduate USC with a bachelors degree. It’s important to figure out  where you want to go, what you want to do, you need a plan.” Mr. Clas future plans are to work with Aerospace or nuclear power.


Graduate Cadet Roberts Interview

By Cadets Corner, Success Stories

Ms. Sumbry: Tell me about yourself and why you decide to come to the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy (SCYCA)?

Cadet Roberts: I graduated a cycle ago and  I felt like SCYCA was the program for me. SCYCA  has benefited me, by helping me become a man and helping me get into college.

Ms. Sumbry: Did SCYCA help you change your life?

Cadet Roberts: South Carolina Youth Challenge changed my life in so many ways. I am a better person than I was before I came. SCYCA help me change my future into a positive one. I am becoming a more discipline, respectful young man. SCYCA helped me with some personal things like getting off of probation and made me take responsibility for my own mistakes.

Ms. Sumbry:  What are your future plans?

Cadet Roberts: My future plans are to get a job and go to Valdosta State University and to become more involved with my family. 

I feel good about myself after taking the challenge. I have matured a lot, when I go out in public people see me as a different person. They see me as a young man not a little boy doing the same negative things he use to do. I have changed and South Carolina Youth Challenge made me who I am today. 

Thank You SCYCA