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National Leadership Challenge provides taste of life in Corps of Cadets

February 26, 2020

As Baila Edwards took part in a march during a National Leadership Challenge (NLC) weekend in her senior year of high school, she knew the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Corps of Cadets was where she wanted to spend the next four years.

"I stood in the middle of the drill field in awe of everything that was going on," said Edwards, now a freshman at UNG pursuing a degree in criminal justice. "It felt like an honor just getting to do all that."

Edwards, from Cumming, Georgia, gained a deeper appreciation for what life in the Corps entailed during NLC. The next NLC weekend is set for April 3-5.

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. The university carries the distinction of The Military College of Georgia and its nationally recognized Army ROTC program attracts students from across the state, region and nation. UNG's Corps offers a commissioning track and a National Service Leadership Track (NSLT) for cadets who choose not to commission. NSLT prepares those cadets for positions in industry, government agencies and public service.

"They get firsthand exposure to current UNG cadets who can talk about what life is like at UNG," Ivy said. "It's a great opportunity to see if the culture of UNG is something they can see themselves pursuing for four years of college."

Previous attendees have listed rappelling, grenade assault, one-rope bridge, and guidance from current cadets among their favorite NLC activities. Cadets plan and execute NLC weekends — and all Corps events.

"I got to see what the actual leadership structure was like and how fun cadets could be," Edwards said. "It's not all serious. It's still a university. You get to have fun."

NLC weekend is designed for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors and costs $115. Registration is available on UNG's Professional and Continuing Education website.

Edwards encouraged anyone considering the Corps of Cadets to attend.

"They need to come to NLC to see if the Corps of Cadets is right for them," she said. "The opportunity is open to them."

In addition to the NLC weekends, a Cadet Overnight Visit Experience 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 16.

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