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Weekend event gives high school students taste of Corps of Cadets

National Leadership Challenge spring 2019 preview
The next National Leadership Challenge weekend, which gives high school students a taste of life in UNG's Corps of Cadets, is set for April 5-7.

Leading their own events is common for members of the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Corps of Cadets. Twice a year, they share that experience by helping high school sophomores, juniors and seniors get a taste of the Corps life during National Leadership Challenge (NLC).

Cadet Sgt. Maj. Alison Gaynor, a UNG sophomore pursuing a degree in marketing, thrives on these weekends, the next of which is set for April 5-7 on UNG's Dahlonega Campus. The cadet from Hiram, Georgia, experienced NLC as a high school senior, and she served as a cadet mentor in fall 2018 for the high school students.

"Over the weekend, part of what UNG has taught our cadre is reflected in the students," Gaynor said. "They hold their head a little higher and yell the cadence a little louder, proud of being a part of the Corps of Cadets for even a single weekend."

Mike Ivy ('95), director of cadet admissions at UNG, said NLC weekends provide a big-picture view of the Corps. Visitors are split into squads of 10 for activities at Pine Valley's leadership reaction obstacle courses and the U.S. Army Ranger Camp Frank D. Merrill. They spend the night at the Wahsega 4-H Camp and eat meals in a military chow hall. An academic panel teaches them about UNG, which is one of six senior military colleges in the nation.

Previous attendees have listed rappelling, grenade assault, one-rope bridge, and guidance from current cadets among their favorite NLC activities. But Gaynor's favorites are the bonds formed and relationships built.

"My favorite part of NLC is seeing the high school students come out of their shells and become more comfortable with our cadre. They start laughing and absorbing what we are teaching them during the weekend," Gaynor said. "They start to bond with their other squad members and create friendships that last for years. I still know my NLC buddies from three years ago."

Mary Cain, a freshman from Augusta, Georgia, pursuing a nursing degree, had no military background before attending NLC. Cain said the experience of the NLC weekend helped better prepare her for FROG Week and understanding Corps of Cadets leadership.

"You get a feel for what it's like without actually being in the Corps," said Cain, whose grandfather was a UNG alumnus.

Cain also attended a Cadet Overnight Visit Experience, which allows high school students to spend a day with a cadet to learn the rhythms of life in the Corps. The smaller event costs $30 and is available Tuesdays and Thursdays this spring through April 18.

Because much of the weekend is led by UNG’s cadets, the high school students pepper them with questions about college.

"We were asked more questions about classes, clubs, time management, financial tips, and social events than we were asked about the Corps of Cadets," Gaynor said. "We were truly able to reach them through recruiting for the college, and we showed them how the Corps will fit in their life and support their other goals."

The NLC weekend is designed for students on a college preparatory curriculum with at least a 2.5 GPA and costs $115. Registration is available at the National Leadership Challenge Weekend website.

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