We made the decision to fly

Leaders For Life, Inc. commencement featuring UCC YouthBuild students

Students enrolled in UCC’s YouthBuild program took the next steps in their journey toward achieving their career goals during a graduation ceremony held this winter in partnership with the Newark-based Leaders For Life Academy, Inc.

“These young people in front of me today are experiencing this wonderful moment because they were willing and determined to go after their education and attain their diplomas,” said UCC YouthBuild Instructor Tasmeya Hall. “They didn’t let their situations or obstacles overcome them. They didn’t let past decisions define their future. Instead, they set in their minds that this is the moment they world strive for.”

UCC’s YouthBuild students were among the 16 graduates recognized during the Leaders For Life Academy commencement, providing them a chance to relish in their achievements. Leaders For Life Academy served as the educational partner in providing high school equivalency courses to UCC’s YouthBuild students.

UCC’s YouthBuild program provides students the opportunity to obtain their high school diploma while providing pre-apprenticeship training programs in various career pathways such as construction, computer tech, and medical and dental tech. Once the pre-apprenticeship is completed, the young adult will work with YouthBuild’s job developer to find the right placement and will work with an alumni specialist/mentor for a year as they break into their new field.

Alongside job skills training, YouthBuild students dedicate a portion of their time inside the classroom to working on themselves. Students can learn valuable skills such as leadership development, participating in case management group sessions, life skill sessions, job development, and community service.

“It’s an honor to be graduating with such an ambitious class of students,” said Zahmiya Lewis, one of the graduates. “Each of these students, including myself, have dealt with major obstacles in our lives.

When we withdrew from our previous schools, we were standing on the edge of a cliff, compelled to make a decision. We could have given up on our high school diploma and spend the rest of our lives scrambling for success.”

Zahmiya noted that students are given a valuable second chance to put themselves on a pathway toward achieving their goals.

Now, herself and her fellow classmates not only graduated early but are equipped with the knowledge and wisdom they need to succeed in life that many underserved youth aren’t fortunate enough to access.

“We could get back up, find another way and fight for our success,” she said. “Based on where we are today, it is clear that we made the decision to fly instead of jumping off of that cliff.”


United Community Corporation

"Moving people from dependency to self-sufficiency"