A Randolph County YouthBuild North Central graduate was honored Friday by West Virginia first lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin as the first student from the program to receive a Highlands Scholarship to Davis &?Elkins College.
Elizabeth McCoy will attend D&E in the fall studying psychology.
The first lady praised McCoy, the YouthBuild program, its instructors and everyone involved in the success of the program. She said it has a positive impact on West Virginia's youth.
The YouthBuild program helps students attain their GED and further their educational and career aspirations.
Often, students who join the program are ones who didn't fit into the normal school system or were forced to face difficult family situations.
These young West Virginians fortunate enough to find a place in the YouthBuild family find a new direction, help, support and concern.
"This is just another avenue for young people to be educated," Tomblin said. "Not everyone learns the same way."
Tomblin said through the YouthBuild program, these students learn what it takes to make it in life, and learn the skills necessary to find a career.
"YouthBuild offers a chance to help students who may not have had a chance," she said.
She also said it isn't always about a four-year degree when getting ahead in life. The need for skilled workers is growing each year as more workers retire from skilled trades.
Tomblin said by the year 2018, West Virginia will need 20,000 more people with degrees and technical certificates to maintain the current work force in the state, including teachers, nurses, coal miners, welders, laborers, mechanics, as well as oil and gas workers.
"We don't have a big population, so we have to get everyone trained possible," she said. "We need people ready to take on those responsibilities."
Gene Ochsendorf, YouthBuild director, said he would like to work himself right out of a job.
"This is what the job is all about, getting these kids into the world," Ochsendorf said.
"This has been a really good class," he added, noting graduates are heading to college, trade school and the military, among others.
Davis & Elkins Chancellor Michael Mihalyo welcomed McCoy to the college, saying the college is happy to have her, and that it looked like she has already had a wonderful experience with YouthBuild.
"I feel very honored," McCoy said when she was recognized for her accomplishments by the first lady and other dignitaries. "Never in my life did I feel I'd be in this situation."
In addition to honoring McCoy, program graduate Robert Gallew also was recognized for his acceptance into the United States Army after attaining his GED, which is quite an accomplishment now, said Vicki Karickhoff, with the West Virginia Development Office.