Clemson partnerships change lives

By Allison Caldwell

Collin SmithSeventeen-year-old Collin Smith is a bright, articulate young man with a promising future. But not long ago, he seemed headed down a different track. Problems at school led to problems at home, and in December 2005, Collin was in custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).

He was sent to the Youth Development Center at W.W. Long 4-H Leadership Center in Aiken, an alternative placement facility for nonviolent offenders and a partnership of Clemson’s Youth Learning Institute and DJJ. Collin chose to make the best of it. “I stopped swearing and learned how to interact with people. The staff trusted me and called me a role model.”

Collin completed his assigned 130 community service hours and then applied to the Youth ChalleNGe Academy (YCA), also at Camp Long. A program of the SC National Guard, YCA allows high school dropouts to pursue their GED. Collin served another 300 community service hours and earned the highest score in YCA history on both the GED and the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery. He enlisted in the Army National Guard in November and plans to apply to The Citadel next spring.

His advice to others: “Make something happen. You can’t wait for someone else to fix your problems.” 

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