Lincoln's Challenge Academy cadet receives four-year, $20,000 scholarship PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Sgt. 1st Class Kassidy L. Snyder, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs   
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 13:29

RANTOUL, IL (12/11/2013)(readMedia)-- Yvette Ramirez was sliding fast.

Her grades were dropping, her focus was lost, and worse; she was finding trouble both in school and on the streets of Chicago's Southside. Despite obvious intelligence, Ramirez was in danger of becoming another statistic – just another embittered teen dropout, lost potential among America's promise of opportunity.

Then she decided to accept a challenge.

Ramirez, 16, learned from a friend about Lincoln's Challenge Academy (LCA). This Saturday she will graduate from the 16-week residential phase of the program with her GED and a scholarship worth $20,000 over four years. For the next year, she'll be paired with a mentor to help her stay on track to a university education.

While attending LCA, Ramirez was awarded the National Guard Youth Program Scholarship. This is the first time an LCA cadet has received the scholarship since LCA's establishment 20 years ago. She will receive $5,000 a year for four years to use at any Illinois state-funded college or university.

"I plan on becoming an anesthesiologist, which requires a lot of education and schooling," said Ramirez. "I will use it as an advantage to become someone better in life."

Before LCA, Ramirez said she thought about college, but would probably have gone to a community college. However, now with the help of the scholarship, she is looking at a few different Illinois universities.

"Being at home I would have still been at-risk to fall into negative temptations," she said. "But, LCA has taught me a lot about the basics of being an adult and staying focused."

Ramirez received her General Education Diploma with a score of 3,300 out of 4,000.

"She was one you didn't have to remind to do anything, studied hard and helped out anyone else who had a problem," said Lt. Sarida Schoonover of Thomasboro, Ill., Ramirez's assistant team leader. "She knew why she was here and never gave up."

To apply for the scholarship, Ramirez wrote an essay describing her future and how furthering her education would help her be successful. She said she spent days working on the essay. It paid off.

After LCA, Ramirez plans to join the Illinois Air National Guard in the medical field when she turns 17 in March. In addition to the scholarship, she will be eligible for military tuition assistance and the Illinois National Guard Grant.

"She is going to get that degree and not let anything else stop her," said Schoonover.

Ramirez will join approximately 300 fellow cadets for graduation at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, Ill., Dec. 15.

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