Clint Bryant

Youth leadership program engages high school students

(Featured image is of retired Augusta University athletic director Clint Bryant talking to members of Youth Leadership Augusta)

Teens describe their year in Youth Leadership Augusta as life changing.

“It has been an experience like no other,” said Makaylah Dunn, who attends Hephzibah High School. “The things that we get to do and the people we get to see and meet — it’s very interesting.”

On April 12, the 30 members of this year’s class of Youth Leadership Augusta met with community leaders at a breakfast and a lunch at the Kroc Center in one final event.

 Doctors, lawyers, firefighters, politicians, members of the military and people from a variety of other careers took part in the day that allowed the teens to learn more about their community and the people in it.

Leaders from the community met with members of Youth Leadership Augusta April 12. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Steven Kendrick, Youth Leadership Augusta chairman, invited his area contacts to “come out and see what our future is like” by interacting with the teens.

It was up to the students to take the initiative at this event. They introduced themselves to the adults in attendance and asked questions about their careers, their challenges in their careers and how they decided to do what they do.

Cylicia Byrd-Keller, a John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School student who describes herself as an introvert, said being in Youth Leadership Augusta has helped her interpersonal skills.

“I’ve learned how to be more communicative and outgoing,” she said. “I’m better at talking with other people. I ask better questions and can engage more.”

For 19 years, area students have taken part in the year long program.

“Youth Leadership Augusta is a program of Leadership Augusta for juniors living or attending high school in Richmond County. The program is designed to expose, educate, and motivate potential young leaders and enable them to take an active role in their community. Through involvement in program days that will provide an assortment of experiences, students will begin to develop and establish a leadership style,” according to the Leadership Augusta website.

They learn about different segments of the community such as its history, its medical community, its judicial system and its cultural offerings.

“It’s been a really great experience and really fun,” said Vee Merry, who attends Aquinas High School.

Her favorite day focused on careers in health care — the career field that piques her interest most.

 “We met trauma nurses and doctors and went to a sim lab. It was a really cool experience,” she said.

 Law Day was the most interesting to Key’Nesha Powell, a Butler High School junior, who wants to study law. Meeting District Attorney Jared Williams gave her insight into her career choices, she said.

While the students enjoyed the experiences outside the class, they also enjoyed getting to know one another as the program brings students from wide backgrounds and different parts of the city.

“You meet everybody from everywhere,” Powell said. “Westside, Hephzibah, Westminster, Aquinas. We are one big family here.”

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at

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