Indiana National Guard’s Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy is a free program designed to provide structure and discipline for high school dropouts or failing students ages 16-18. The 17-month commitment includes a 5 1/2 month stay at the HYCA facility in Knightstown, where students have the opportunity to earn a high school equivalency program and college credit courses.
Fishers resident Trossie Stayton wasn’t an at-risk youth when she decided to join the program.
“I was interested in joining the military, and I wanted to get a feel for it to see if it was something I could handle,” Stayton said. “Enlisting was starting to spark my interest, and I thought what better way to know than actually try something military related.”
Stayton chose to participate even though her grades were good.
“I was actually doing pretty well in school, but I do have some things going against me,” Stayton said. “I have fetal alcohol syndrome and ADHD. I had to work really hard but my grades were important to me.”
The 5 1/2-month residential component was challenging for Stayton.
“That was very difficult for me. You feel very alone, especially in the beginning,” Stayton said.
Stayton said her time in HYCA prepared her for life after high school and changed her life.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life,” she said. “It taught me so much. I never knew I could push myself that hard until you’re forced to be pushed that hard. I gained so much discipline. It bettered my life all around.”
Stayton plans to enlist in the U.S. Air Force or Navy and wants to become a surgical assistant. Although she is interested in joining the military, there is no requirement to do so for students enrolled in HYCA. For more, visit hoosieryouthchallenge.org.